In the 2016 Lodging Survey, the most recent AHLA, AHLEF, STR survey available, the percentage of hotels with shampoo/conditioner dispensers in the shower was addressed. Not surprisingly, the numbers were not huge. Fourteen percent of independents said they use them, 10 percent of upper midscale properties said they do, and 9 percent of economy properties. Slowly but surely, however, shower dispensers have been gaining industry acceptance. Today, they look great, reduce plastic waste, save money, and can improve the customer experience with a well-known, branded liquid product inside.
Shower dispensers got their biggest industry endorsement ever this past week when Marriott International unveiled a dispenser program for the five brands that make up the bulk of its properties—Courtyard, Fairfield, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites and TownePlace Suites. (See my article.) The shower dispenser program, which includes Paul Mitchell shampoo, conditioner and body wash, was announced at the Managed by Marriott GMs conference.
There are different dispenser types—some refillable, some with replaceable inserts, etc.—but what Marriott chose are recyclable bottles made from PET plastic. Marriott partnered with Paul Mitchell to develop the dispenser system. The bottles are recycled once empty; they are not refilled. The bottles are much more easily recycled than the small plastic bottles and can be made into new PET bottles or many other products. Denise Naguib, Vice President, Sustainability & Supplier Diversity for Marriott International, told me, “We are still partnering with Clean the World and they can recycle the bottles.” The bottles can also be picked up for recycling locally in most places.
Environmental, Financial Benefits
Naguib says that for a 140-room property, moving to a three-bottle shower dispenser system is expected to result in the elimination of more than 23,000 tiny toiletry bottles annually—the equivalent of 250 pounds of plastic per year. “We expect to see savings of $1,000 to $2,000 per hotel annually,” she says.
The transition to dispensers in the shower will be a requirement for Marriott Managed hotels among the five brands and optional for franchised properties. By the end of this year Marriott expects at least 1,500 hotels out of 3,400 hotels to adopt the program. The switch to dispensers fits well with Marriott’s Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction initiative which was launched last November. One part of Serve 360 is reducing waste by 45 percent by 2025.
Marriott invested a lot of time in testing and developing its dispenser program. It benefited from the experience Starwood had with dispensers in its aloft and Element properties.
As has been written here on Green Lodging News many times, dispensers are a great idea if done right—for the reasons mentioned above and to show your guests you care about plastic waste and protecting the environment. Kudos to Marriott for showing the industry that a large-scale dispenser rollout is not only possible but sensible and acceptable by travelers as well.
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