Today's Chicago Tribune has a discussion about how hotel customers perceive the various unattached in-room amenities -- towels, toiletries, paper and pen/pencil, robes, hangers, etc.  I'm not sure the article really makes its point -- that the majority of items provided in a hotel room are for the customer's convenience while staying there, not as take-alongs.  However, who can forget the famous Friends episode where Ross takes everything that isn't nailed down.  Apparently, some hotel customers assume all is fair game.
One point that today's Tribune article only glances upon is the matter of toiletries.  

Even if hotels expect their guests to help themselves to unopened amenities in their rooms, the hotels don't really get much marketing value out of those items, said John Bowen, a co-author of "Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism" and the dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.
I don't know about that.  I certainly notice when a hotel is featuring a "luxury" line of bath products -- Aveda at W Hotels, L'Occitane at Four Seasons.  In fact, I'll admit, with some risk of being labelled, that the bath product selection factored into my decision to stay at the Four Seasons in Toronto last week -- it certainly wasn't about the rest of the experience, which was unremarkable.
Now, the Tribune article isn't clear on this toiletry topic.  To me, if you open a bottle of shampoo, lotion, or bath gel, you might as well take it with you -- I sure as heck hope the hotel isn't re-using it!  And my marketing side says, I'll bet the cosmetics companies factor the marketing value of product placement into the price they charge the hotels for the bath items.  So why not consider it a little take-along?  Heck, the W website says
CLEANSE - Custom formulated AVEDA bath products, with a subtle fresh green scent. You'll just have to take them home.
W Hotels even has an online store, so you can live your home life just like staying at one of their properties.  Cool.
Bottom line on all this -- while I would never be interested in snagging a hotel towel (they are always paper thin, and of course they've been used by who-knows-who), I do return home on occasion with acquired items in my travel kit -- either from hotels, or from airline business/first class amenity kits.  After 1 million+ miles flown, I even have some favorites.  And with more upcoming travel, a good bottle of shampoo might make all the difference in the world.
Link: Chicago Tribune: Hotel might call 'souvenirs' stolen >

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