When it comes to in-room appliances, hotel guests are craving products that deliver value, ease of use and a touch of luxury. As hoteliers up the ante on delivering seamless service and memorable experiences, they are also bringing that focus to the everyday fixtures of the guestroom that enable guests to make themselves feel at home.
“The market for microwaves has been shrinking over the years,” said Bob Tomaso, senior national account manager, Magic Chef. “I see a trend where hotels enhance the guest experience by creating dining and entertaining areas in their lobby areas with the intention of keeping the guests on-site.”
While the landscape of appliances in the guestroom will vary by chain scale and property type, one thing is common: Refrigerators are always in demand. Tomaso has seen an increase in sales of units featuring stainless-steel finishes.
“I also see the purchase trend moving toward smaller-size refrigerators,” said Tomaso. “Over the past couple of years, the market has shifted from a 2.4-cu.-ft. unit to a 1.7-cu.-ft. size. This may be due to a design trend of reconfiguring the furniture in the room so that it appears larger for the guest.”
Research has shown that value and convenience are drivers in a guest’s decision to stay at one hotel brand versus another. In addition, in-room appliances are critical elements for making a comfortable and efficient guestroom for longer stays.
“At Extended Stay America, more than two-thirds of our guests stay with us for seven nights or more, which means they require a more home-like environment than a transient guest would,” said Amy Hollis, director of design, Extended Stay America. “To accommodate that need for home-like conveniences, each guestroom is designed with a full kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, Whirlpool cooktop equipped with smart burners and a General Electric microwave. Other conveniences, such as toasters, coffeemakers, plates, flatware, pots and pans are available upon request.”
A freshly brewed cup of Joe has been a staple in guestrooms for decades. From coffee grounds and filters to single-use pods, the in-room coffee experience has evolved as tastes have changed. Quality remains paramount.
“The days of ‘it’s pretty good for hotel coffee’ are in the past. Guests demand high-quality, so the marriage between the coffee and the brewer is more important than ever,” said Eva Franchi, founder and director, hospitality division, Conair Corp. “As a brewer manufacturer, we work very hard to ensure every nuance of the brewer is optimized.”
Elsewhere in the room, upgrades to hair dryers are enabling guests to achieve salon-quality tresses. Franchi sees a shift toward higher-end models with more power and a larger set of features in the attempt to offer guests a more spa-like experience.
“We have seen many mid- and high-tier accounts moving from our traditional dryers to the upper-end of our product offering,” said Franchi.
Hollis noted that a reputation for dependability, functionality and overall performance are key factors. “From an operational and facility maintenance perspective, smart burners have served us well and allow complete functionality of the cooktop while controlling heat levels,” she said. “[It’s] proven a worthwhile change from utilization of standard coil elements. While we are aware that some other brands are utilizing ceramic cooktops, we’ve tested them in model rooms and found that, while streamlined in appearance, ceramic tops are subject to more breakage and are more difficult to keep clean. As of now, they do not have a feature to prohibit overheating, which is an obvious concern. We will continue to explore them as technology catches up to the need.”
While in-room appliances offer form and function, aesthetics matter greatly, too. “Guests prefer products that have a pleasing design,” said Tomaso. “We have also seen an increase in demand for our countertop ice makers and smaller 6- and 12-bottle wine coolers. These items enhance the guest experience and provide that luxury experience.”