SAN DIEGO—Branding is a way for a hotel to get creative, to showcase its identity in the hopes that guests not only connect with the brand but remember it. Hospitality supplier Front Desk Supply has launched HotelSupplyHQ.com to solve a branding dilemma: unifying a brand across hotel products.
HotelSupplyHQ is a one-stop shop for hotel leaders to fully customize products from key cards to key holders, valet tags, notepads, signs and pens.
“A primary issue hotels face is unifying the brand across the products that guests interact with most frequently,” said Mark Zisek, director of commercial operations, Front Desk Supply. “We also want to offer our customers more tools and self-service options. Thus, HotelSupplyHQ was created.”
HotelSupplyHQ offers additional branded products, but also, a more convenient and organized platform for hotel staff to view and order supplies.
“Coming to Front Desk Supply for new products through HotelSupplyHQ also allows our customers to rationalize the number of vendors they work with, making it easier to have one-stop shopping for their supplies that they regularly reorder,” Zisek explained.
The site also allows for easier customization. For example, a coffee mug comes in different shapes and sizes, making customer review much more efficient. Branding is also simpler on the site, with logos shown on the product so customers can get an accurate view of the finished product.
“For our core products, there are often more complicated graphics involved and thus require a higher ‘touch.’ Our team of graphic artists are complimentary for our customers to make this easier,” Zisek said.
Front Desk Supply and HotelSupplyHQ are functioning as a single entity, with Front Desk Supply managing the higher-touch products and HotelSupplyHQ offering items that are more easily managed via self-service.
“The high-touch offerings that Front Desk Supply focuses on are offered on the HotelSupplyHQ site as well, though pricing is likely less speaking to our sales representatives,” said Jasmin Friedman-Enriquez, senior director of sales operations, Front Desk Supply. “If a customer wants to review options, any of the Front Desk Supply sales team members can assist with questions on the HotelSupplyHQ site.”
HotelSupplyHQ’s core products include key cards, key holders, notepads and signs; hotel products include stationery and branded gift shop items; in-room products include coffee mugs, wine glasses, wine openers, coasters, other glasses and accompanying products; other in-room products include binders/directories, laundry bags, hangers and other housekeeping items; and staff products include name tags, uniforms and awards.
“These items were selected based on previous demand and customer requests. We know our customers would appreciate the ease of ordering from one vendor. For Front Desk Supply to continue to be recognized as a leading vendor, we realized we needed to extend our reach within the hotel industry,” Friedman-Enriquez said.
Hotels can customize pretty much all of these products, which is especially useful for independent and boutique hotels; according to Zisek, this segment represents the majority of Front Desk Supply’s customer base.
“Once we receive a logo and a hotel’s colors—if any are specified—we are able to take this and other elements and carry that forward across any of the products we offer,” Zisek said. “For many products, we can also add pictures or other elements to be sure the experience at the hotel carries over to all branded items, so the guest walks away never forgetting their stay. We also understand that hotels have budgets and not every product makes financial sense to brand, so we keep a supply of many of our products in stock as a ‘generic’ option that any hotel can order. Keeping this stock helps maintain a lower cost than a custom order.”
This marks one of the biggest challenges, Zisek said: balancing branding and experiential guest stays with financial needs.
“The hotel industry is looking to provide unique experiences for their guests through unique branding,” he said. “It can become a challenge to provide a personalized experience while being cost-effective. This becomes a bigger challenge for independent and boutique hotels as they often don’t have as big of a branding budget, nor a team of marketing people. We do our best to recognize this and offer independent or boutique hotels a wide range of branded products at a worthy price.”
Along with working with customers to find the best product for their budgets, the actual ordering process is simple: Customers select and set up their orders online, or reach out to their sales representative.
It takes one to two days for coordinating graphics with its graphic artists, one to two days to receive a final/production proof and two to three weeks for production.
“There is no need to review prior invoices, sloppy notes or search through the files of someone’s desk who used to order the products,” Friedman-Enriquez said.
This also ensures a consistent brand message with an ordering experience that doesn’t require an outside agency or marketing team.
“Further, our team of graphic artists is able to not just assist with a layout but also add input to the design based both on experience with other hotels, as well as knowledge of our print methods,” Zisek added.
Front Desk Supply’s products have a variety of sources—direct to manufacturer, buying groups, etc.—and is hospitality industry-focused, which helps the company offer credible knowledge, Zisek noted.
“We see hotels doing what they can to be efficient, while also being high touch and high brand, so their guests leave with a positive experience that they want to share,” Zisek said. “It is vital to have a supplier that understands this and does their part to help.” HB