B&B Guest Amenities: Mini bottles, or big dispensers?

As a business owner, and responsible human being, I am ever conscious of our carbon footprint. At Westville B&B we recycle as much as we can instead of sending it off to the landfill. Cans, glass, plastic, paper, light bulbs, batteries, bread tags, egg cartons, loo roll inners, these all find a home. Our plastic shopping bags have been replaced with Uzwelo Bags and we are very conscious of trying to support our charities with linen, towels etc. that are no longer “five-star” but still usable.

So, this got me thinking about the mini amenities bottles that we offer our guests in our en-suite bathrooms. I met with Debbi Van Heerden of Mitras Amenities who has been my supplier for 16 years and said I would like to explore the option of more environmentally friendly options such as glass and paper.

Glass Bottle dispenser samples were made up, and before I could even decide, an impromptu discussion at my breakfast table got me thinking that I should put this question out to my guests and see what they say. I started by putting a post on both my personal Facebook and our Westville B&B page, asking people whether they preferred mini amenities or whether they preferred bigger dispensers. I deliberately did not use the words “plastic” or “glass”.

Doing a quick poll… for you travelers out there…
Which do you prefer when you stay at a B&B or guest house? Mini amenity bottles or bigger dispensers?

    • Combining the personal and business FaceBook pages the totals were: 36 for Mini and 47 for Dispensers. I had expected a bigger margin.
    • There seemed to be strong push for the big dispensers as they are more environmentally-friendly being glass and not single use plastic. The biggest draw-back seems to be where the nozzles are not serviced regularly, and they get clogged or have not been refilled. Perhaps we could encourage guests to recycle their plastic minis and add the story to the directory of services.
    • Many guests prefer the minis for their convenience.
    • There is a perception that they are more hygienic than a “push down” nozzle that may or may not have been cleaned by housekeeping after the previous guest used it.
    • There is also a perception that the bigger bottles are the establishment being “cheapskate”. One reply was: “If it’s more than R1000 (no breakfast) per night I think little bottles are cool”. Ironically, switching to the glass dispensers comes with a hefty set-up price tag for the stainless-steel brackets for the dispenser, and the new glass bottles
    • Some felt that the little mini amenities are a great little “souvenir” or even “gift” that they can take home. Personally, as a B&B Owner, the minis serve as tiny little brand ambassadors, a marketing tool proudly showing off my Westville B&B Logo and contact details so that they remind my guests of their stay with us, and quietly sit there till they need to book again.
    • My international travellers have said that they like the little bottles as they pack them in their luggage rather than taking their own big bottles. One male guest says he always takes the body lotion and mini soaps, as he uses them on the plane. He cannot stand those big push dispensers they have on the plane!
    • There was some concern about possible injury to guests if the glass bottles break, there is the possibility of damage to porcelain tiles too if they fall, and some polled were worried about guests taking the big bottles.

All in all, the bias is in favour of the bigger dispensers, but not by that much to warrant throwing the baby out with the delightfully soapy water!

Posted in