Exit through the Gift Shop

Hotel merch is having a bit of a moment. Products emblazoned with iconic, aspirational or retro logos can gain cult status, boost brand awareness, encourage loyalty and shape perceptions.

Hoteliers are presented with two clear sales strategies. Keep products exclusive and only available at the hotel – could covetable souvenirs motivate a booking? Or add a brand new revenue stream by launching an online shop, making the brand accessible to customers all around the world.

Souvenirs are a brilliant addition to any hotel business, but only when executed well. Investing in thousands of units of product nobody wants is to be avoided. So where to begin?


Define your target customer and do some market research. What are your demographic buying and why? What are the market trends and what is driving them? What trends are emerging and which are passing? Look to forward-thinking businesses, aspirational brands and successful campaigns for inspiration. Consider the level of demand. What would your customer be willing to spend on a souvenir? Put together a mood board of visual inspiration and aesthetic trends.


Conceptualise the product line. You could lean into the retro classics: key rings, matchboxes, ash trays, eye masks; or tap into the kitsch slogan apparel trend with caps, sweatshirts, t-shirts. Make it make sense; if you have a fantastic pool, a range of swimwear, swim caps, floats and towels will help promote your best asset. Perhaps you already use branded tableware or toiletries? You almost certainly have branded stationery. Package it up!

Keep it simple and stamp your logo across notebooks, pyjamas and tote bags, or work with a talented illustrator or artist to create a motif, slogan or surface pattern. Collaborate with an artisan, designer or brand to create a brand new collection. At the design stage, consider the environmental impact of each option. Avoid plastic and materials that use excessive water to produce. Work with local manufacturers to keep the carbon footprint as small as possible. Consider the lifecycle of the product and avoid anything disposable.


Once you’ve settled on product and surface design, it’s time to find manufacturers who can supply in a volume that will best suit your business. You will need to meet minimum order requirements that will differ between suppliers, so do some research and balance the volume with the cost per unit. Some suppliers may offer an extended sample run so you can gauge demand before placing large and costly orders. Print on demand is another option for those opting for an e-commerce approach, but you will have little control over the quality or postage.

Establish lead times including for repeat orders so you can forward plan when you need to restock.


Transform a corner into a boutique or simply set up a stand on the reception desk to showcase your products. If any items are used in guest bedrooms, provide a price list to indicate what’s for sale. Set up an e-commerce proponent on your website, send out press releases and create a compelling social media campaign to launch your products. If your products are desirable enough, go one step further and get your products stocked at Harrods like Ritz Paris or Maison Flaneur like Hotel Amour.

Hotel Palette can look after this whole process for you, from concept to completion. Get in touch to discuss.

Contact Hannah

If you are looking to develop an existing or brand new hotel concept,
guest experience or creative strategy, I’d love to help.



Subscribe to Palette Post