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Retail Remix: Taco Bell Hotel

Why Retailers Are Checking in to Hotel Pop Ups

Whether you’re a fan of Taco Bell or not, hot sauce packet pillows and mild sauce wall art and floaties are quite the sight in a hotel room. And on June 27, travelers wanted to see this up close, making reservations in four hotel room types at a resort in California’s Palm Springs.

In two minutes, the Taco Bell Hotel & Resort completely sold out for the upcoming August 8 event. Guests will get the usual amenities, plus a hot sauce room key upon arrival. And retail companies are taking note of why this trendy boutique hotel promo is so appealing.


“Window” shopping from your room

In a survey of 1,600 people from Touring Plans, travelers were asked how much they spend on souvenirs per week. Approximately two-thirds of those surveyed spent up to $100. In addition to setting aside money for sightseeing and trying different foods, travelers usually end up in souvenir shops finding knickknacks for loved ones. And you best believe the Bell Hotel has a gift shop stocked with taco-themed merchandise to help you Live Más.
But what if travelers didn’t have to leave their hotel rooms to shop for souvenirs?

In a world of increasing cashless retailers and digital pay-me-later options, consumers are making convenience a top priority. And to remain profitable and on-trend, many retailers are following suit.

Travel Weekly reports that Shinola Hotel, a downtown Detroit hotel, offers Runwell desk clocks, alpaca throw blankets and signature candles for sale in all of their 129 guestrooms.

The Bulgari Hotel Shanghai gives travelers the opportunity to experience 63 rooms and 19 suites with their contemporary, high-end Italian furniture. And if home decor isn’t their point of interest, personal shopping services and private showings of Bulgari jewelry in guest suites may do the trick.

Muji is providing everything from irons, toothpaste, nail clippers to cell phone adapters. Exposure to these hotel amenities are a simple way to advertise Muji products without traditional print or digital ads. Guests can see them in the flesh. And these products are available in all 79 hotel rooms in the Ginza neighborhood of Tokyo.

Homeowners (or renters) who aren’t quite sure what kind of bedroom furniture they want can test it out first. Visit a New York Hotel at 55 Gansevoort St., which will soon have 14 hotel rooms available — and if they like the furniture setup, walk right around the corner to Restoration Hardware, where the furniture came from.

And West Elm Hotel, scheduled to open in 2020, is looking out for local artists in Indianapolis. Rooms will include local art from Indianapolis artists and furniture may come from area woodworkers.


Tweets and shares: Free social promotion

While the primary way for retailers to sell their products this way is hotel stays, there’s a second way that can be profitable without them spending a dime. User-generated photographs and perfectly organized images rank high on the list of social media favorites. Tourists — who already tend to be more attached to their cameras during vacations — could ideally see cool things in a hotel room, click a pic and share with their followers. If the photograph is successful, a unique follower could become a new retail (or hotel) customer without ever stepping foot in that hotel.

While the social media shares probably won’t get the 26.3 million likes that a cracked egg did, retailers that want to understand their ideal audiences should pay attention to the top 10 brands on Instagram and TIME’s last list of top Instagram users state-by-state. From beauty brands to luxury suitcases, accounts like these can help retailers find potential new audiences and customers. It may also come in handy for finding their regional audience.

Even if potential customers can’t make their way to Bulgari Hotel Shanghai or the upcoming Bulgari hotels in Moscow this year, Paris in 2020 or Tokyo in 2022, they can easily log into the retailer’s website with new inspiration. The same goes for other retailers showcasing their products outside of traditional brick-and-mortar stores.


A shopper’s holiday

Retail experts on Shopify claim the number one way to market and grow stores is give people a strong reason to visit a store. Online coupons and limited sales work for some shoppers, but exclusive events, such as the kind that the Taco Bell Hotel & Resort will provide this August, add a trendier new way to make consumers excited to buy and try new products. A mild sauce pillow pic on Instagram is intriguing. But it doesn’t have quite the same zest as sitting poolside in Palm Springs; in fact, as Taco Bell has already figured out, there’s no reason why you can’t do both.

By SHAMONTIEL VAUGHN | Contributing Writer‍