The end of the tiny bottle?

Hotel shampoo, soap and lotion.

Jeremy Hobson: If you think about it, the hotel industry hasn't changed much in the last several decades. You've still got the same things: bed, TV, dresser, tiny little shampoo bottles in the bathroom.

Well, actually that last one may be on the way out, as Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: It can be frustrating in a hotel shower not to have enough shampoo left in that little, tiny bottle. You shake and cajole in an effort to squeeze out just a little bit more.

But not at the high-end SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, where they've stocked the shower with full-sized bottles.

Thomas Meding: Which really allows you to go completely crazy and soap yourself as much and as often as you want to from head to toe.

Thomas Meding is the general manager there. You can tell he's good at what he does by the very next line out of his mouth:

Meding: Or not at all, it's really entirely up to you.

Meding says the hotel use big bottles because they want to create more of a residential feel, plus they reduce waste -- which is something a whole lot of hotels are aiming to do, both up-market and down-market.

Michelle Millar is a professor at the University of San Francisco. She says those tiny plastic bottles create extra work for housekeeping; they create a whole lot of trash and can cost more than the alternatives. But getting rid of them is tough. It's hard to come up with an alternative that visitors will like.

With big bottles:

Michelle Millar: Consumers are still a little bit hesitant with the big bottles because of sanitary reasons, what's in those bottles, did anybody tamper with them.

And with the other primary option -- those wall-mounted soap dispensers:

Millar: Consumers have been really reluctant to use those. I think it reminds them of going to the gym.

Brandon Conard: They see it sort of like truck stop bathroom dispensers.

Consultant Brandon Conard says those perceptions could change in time, with a good education program. Kind of like the tags you see about saving water by not replacing towels.

Conard: You could put a little sign on the soap that says, "Hey, we're saving 10,000 bottles from going to the landfill by using these dispensers, we hope you like them."

Or maybe it'll just take more people realizing how fun it is to go lather-crazy with all the soap they could possibly use. Or not.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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