Q & A with Chris Smith, EVP of Sales, about what ReadyCare is seeing in the private label market

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Why do hotels, spas & club explore private label?

Chris - Properties typically explore private label for two reasons. First, it allows them to extend the reach & visibility of their brand which is extremely important in today’s competitive marketplace. Secondly, private label opens the door to potential retail sales. If a guest uses a private label personal care product on a property and likes it, why not let them buy a bottle or two for home? That’s delivering a positive guest experience and the property gets to open a new revenue stream that can be very profitable. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Where does private label work best?

Chris - We’ve seen private label work in many different situations, but one that stands out is at resort hotels with a spa on property. When a line of private label products are used in the hotel room and a guest likes them, they are motivated to check out the spa which uses the same products. Then, these same products are offered for sale in the spa’s retail area as well as in the hotel’s gift shop. It’s an extremely powerful combination that we call “Private Label Integration.” We’ve also seen a recent trend where the spa director is being included in discussions with housekeeping about guest room amenities.

Are there any new trends in private label packaging?

Chris - While rounded bottles like a Boston Round are always popular, we’ve definitely seen a move toward taller, slimmer, sleeker bottle designs. The aluminum bottle has also been an interesting addition to the mix and is popping up here and there where it makes sense to support a specific property’s brand.

Regarding private label fragrances, have you seen any recent changes?

Chris - We certainly have. Citrus blends and green tea lemongrass have been extremely popular for the last few years, but we’ve also seen a trend toward more subtle, classier fragrances. We encourage customers to avoid the fragrance trends and pick a scent that supports their brand and the overall guest experience they’re trying to deliver.

Which private label products sell best at the retail level?

Chris - We recommend that properties initially focus their private label retail lines on body care products -- body wash, body lotion, hand soap, body cream, body scrub, lip balm and bath salts. These products will always be your best sellers. Plus, they can help promote your signature scent. Hair care products are a nice addition but only add them if there’s demand from guests. We also encourage properties launch their private label retail effort with more than one fragrance because guests are drawn to different scents. One fragrance just can’t satisfy them all.

Have you seen changes in the size of properties exploring private label?

Chris - Historically, private label has only been available to larger properties due to high minimum requirements. However with advancements in technology and a more competitive marketplace, some suppliers like ReadyCare go down to a minimum of 50 units per product which opens the door to smaller properties. Regardless of your size, it’s important to select an experienced partner like ReadyCare to guide you through the private label development process.

How long does it take to develop a private label program?

Chris - While every program is different, the private label development process typically takes 2-3 months. The hard work is figuring out what a property wants to accomplish and getting all of the internal stakeholders aligned regarding product & fragrance selection, packaging and design. If you select an experienced partner like ReadyCare, the development process should be both smooth and successful.

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Chris Smith is Co-Founder and Executive Vice President at ReadyCare, and manages all of ReadyCare’s customer-facing teams including: sales, account management, product management & marketing. Chris is an expert in the use of private label within the hospitality industry to deliver better guest experiences. Prior to joining ReadyCare full-time in 2005, Chris managed the Western U.S. sales team for Oracle’s Major Accounts division. He is a graduate of the University of Denver.