After a lifetime in travel, my home is full of souvenirs and mementos of places I have visited. From the outrageously tacky to the downright bizarre, the list of trinkets sold to tourists is endless. And the memories they bring back as I look at them are still a treasured part of that travel experience, writes Marjorie Dean. That’s why they are important.
The lodge/hotel/ship “gift” shop, with its mix of essential practical sundries, souvenirs and branded merchandise, has been a predictable if uninspired lobby fixture for years. But as hotels scramble to distinguish themselves, many are rethinking their shops, upgrading and expanding the merchandise and positioning their shops as destinations for both guests and local residents, much as they did with restaurants a decade ago.
With the development of electronic technology, guests and others can use an in-room iPad to shop for an expanded list of minibar offerings, including branded towels and vanity bags. Items are delivered to the room in 10 minutes.
With occupancy rates and the number of travellers on the rise, industry experts predict growth in high-concept hotel shops. “Shops are one of the remaining opportunities hotels have for people to say ‘This place is different, better, cleverer and more exciting than I expected.’ But to do that they need to stock items that people will want to buy and take home. These are often the property’s branded items that people “lift” from hotel rooms, thus requiring expensive replacements by the property.
So why not give them the opportunity to buy these covetable souvenirs from the gift shop? But there are some points to consider. Most travellers are flying home, so souvenirs must be small and light for ease of packing. Also it’s preferable if they are not breakable, and can be used after getting home.
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