We beg to differ.
After spending the night with several thousand cockroaches we know that where you stay matters. And it matters a lot. Hoteliers know this, and the race is on to see how they can out-serve their customers. According an article in Vanity Fair magazine, “Hotels are a lifestyle statement. In the 21st century, the hotel you stay in says more about you than cash ever can.” Hmmm. Interesting thought.
Maybe that’s why hoteliers are going to extraordinary lengths to out-do each other. Many offer lovely accommodations, and beyond the call of duty customer care, but some are taking it a step further. Take the Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tennessee for example. Here you can customize your visit by choosing from a variety of unique services:
A Lava Lamp: Shades o’ the 70s!
A Love Kit: A what? We don’t even want to know what this is …
Mick Jagger: Think it’s a photo or a bellman named Mick Jagger?
A Pet Fish: We love this! You chose a fish and he’s yours for your entire stay!
An Ocean View: In Nashville! We want to stay here just to see how they do this.
A Primp Kit: His, Hers or Spot’s
Milk and Cookies: Rich’s favorite!
There’s even a Gripe Session if you are so inclined. The amenities at the Hotel Preston sure beat the little bottles of shampoo at other hotels.
So if hotels have become lifestyle statements, it’s no wonder so many of them now allow you to take their rooms home. No, you can’t steal the towels, but you can buy a set of your own. Almost all top drawer hotels are selling their wares on-site and on-line. The Westin Hotels feature their trademark “Heavenly Beds”, a detriment to the business world because once you get in one, you never want to get up and go to work. Now you can buy your own Heavenly Bed, Heavenly Bath, Heavenly Crib, even a Heavenly Pet Bed.
W Hotels will sell you everything in your hotel room, from the bed and bedding, toiletries, chairs, pictures, mirrors, lamps, CDs, even their “World’s Best Cookies.” And they will ship your order right to your own front door. The W Hotel’s website even offers books, gifts, jewelry, clothing, footwear, and accessories for both men and women.
And whichever hotel amenities you choose for your home, they don’t come cheap. So we wondered how this new trend might translate to your stores.
Years ago we were standing on the sales floor of Ben Franklin Crafts & Frames in Redmond, Washington when a woman remarked that the overhead lighting was just what she’d been looking for, but couldn’t find. Owner Bob Ferguson got out a ladder and sold her the bulbs on the spot. Another time we saw a retailer sell a woman an antique armoire that was being used to display blankets and throws. What would happen in your store if a customer asked to buy a store fixture or display piece? Why not have an advance plan, or better yet, let your customers know that all they see in your store can be theirs for a price. Here’s how:
* If yours is a creative store, build a craft or crop room in the corner of your store. Make it a working display so that customer’s can take it for a “test drive.” Create a list of the components you used to build your work center along with a price for each one. Have order forms available at the checkout counter. Other retailers can set Lifestyle Displays that will show shoppers exactly how your product might look in their own homes.
* Add a design center to your website. Set up various sample craft rooms and photograph each one individually. Customers who visit your website will be able to peruse the pages and choose the configuration that works best for their home. These photos, coupled with the ability to order the product on-line, will give you the perception of being a full service store, even if you’re not.
* Contact your vendors and get all the information on minimums, shipping information, etcetera, so you will have it on hand when a customer inquires about purchasing an item or display piece.
* Create custom specialty kits with your store’s name on them – a little bit of your store’s magic to take home! You can do them seasonally or by theme. For example, create a “Your Name Here’s Mardi Gras in a Box”, and sell the kits in your store and on your website. You can make a single display sample and build the kits as you sell them. You can even elect to place a disclaimer on your sample kit that states “some merchandise substitutions may occur” so that you don’t have to hold product by building your boxes in advance.
Your list of opportunities is endless! Customers who visit your store have probably dreamed about having parts of your store in their homes. Why not help them make that happen and make some extra cash at the same time?
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