The Do’s and Don’ts of Hotel Pantry Planning

By Janine Roberts Director of Sales and Marketing, Tradavo | April 03, 2011

In any industry, there are basic tenets and practices that industry experts rely on as common knowledge. But in an industry like hotel retail, where two industries cross over each other, many basic retail practices are misunderstood or completely overlooked because the professionals in charge of overseeing the effort typically come from a hospitality background rather than retail

Unfortunately, this creates a scenario where fairly simple, yet costly mistakes are made when it comes to planning for, supplying, and managing a hotel pantry or gift shop. Many of these revenue mistakes are made by well meaning managers trying to create a clear-cut financial plan for their retail effort by setting budgets, selecting vendors, and closely managing overall Cost of Goods spent on the pantry but end up limiting the revenue and profitability potential of the retail operation.

Budgeting for Retail

Hoteliers are experts at managing budgets and procurement down to the penny. Cost conscious managers know exactly how much can be spent on FF&E, food service, and payroll on any given day.

Unfortunately, hotel retail is often treated like an operational cost rather than the profit center that it should be. Working on a fixed budget for retail can be a detriment to profitability. So long as product is selling and margins are set correctly, the ROI is immediate. Sales should be the determining factor in what is ordered, not an arbitrary number that could cause costly out of stocks when product is moving and there is no money left in the budget to re-supply.

Often I walk into a hotel pantry and find numerous facings missing leaving half empty shelves and a lack luster appeal to a potential buyer. When asked why so many holes, more often than not the response is, “We are waiting to place an order after our budget is renewed at the first of the month.” These out of stocks can costs hundreds even thousands of dollars a month in a busy market.

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