“We hope that by providing guests with these premium instruments, it will create a memorable journey,” said Audrey Hardy-Lenhart, Director of Sales and Marketing for the hotel. “And that hopefully they’ll come back to see us again or at least tell their friends about it because it was such a unique experience.”
Although the words “lending library” may initially conjure up books, more and more hotels are getting creative with lending programs, offering musical instruments, movies, indoor plants, outdoors and more. It’s a move he hopes will create excitement about their property, provide new ways to explore the local community and attract guests who aren’t as keen on hanging out at the bar. ‘hotel.
One of the most common hotel loan programs is for vinyl records and record players. The Elizabeth Hotel, along with the Saint Kate in Milwaukee, the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon, the Highlander Hotel in Iowa City, the Kimpton Alton in San Francisco and the Edgewater in Seattle, are among a myriad of accommodations to offer this style of library. Each has hundreds, if not thousands, of discs available for customers to play for free, often with a small in-room selection at check-in, which can be exchanged for other titles.
“It’s a good resource, especially for guests who prefer to spend time in their rooms rather than in common areas,” Hardy-Lenhart said. “It’s unusual for a hotel to offer guests opportunities for interaction beyond food and drink. For us as a brand, it’s important to create these new ways to engage customers. »
Another hotel chain with a loaner program aimed at homemakers is Kimpton. Nine of the brand’s US hotels offer a selection of chess boards that can be sent to guest rooms. Although game closets are another popular solution (the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach, Florida, and the Bowery Hotel in New York are just two others that offer board games such as checkers and Chinese cards), Kimpton’s program was launched in response to the pandemic. and the newfound popularity of chess thanks to the Netflix show “The Queen’s Gambit.”
“It’s always our priority to provide sincere care to our customers, and at the height of the pandemic, we had to get creative about how we did this again as we overhauled our customer experience,” said said Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer of Kimpton. . “The board lending program allows us to extend on-site interactive programming to travelers staying with us. For those who may not be interested in our evening social or bike rental, the board lending program offers an alternative activity to enjoy in the safety and comfort of one’s room.
That’s not the only loaner program the hotel chain is offering this year. The brand recently launched a loaner program of Sunset lamps, which provide a type of light intended to help with seasonal affective disorder, in 10 of its properties. Over the years, the various Kimpton hotels embarked on other programs, including one where guests could discover a goldfish to keep them company (although this has since been discontinued).
Although lending library programs have existed in hotels for years, said Felicia Rahm, director of sales and marketing at the Zags Hotel in Portland, Oregon, they have become even more popular with guests since the start of the pandemic, as they provide travelers with more opportunities to recreate either in their rooms or outside in the community. The hotel’s Gear Shed focuses on the latter.
“There’s a lot in there,” Rahm said. “We have ukuleles, e-bikes, hoverboards, skateboards, helmets, fishing rods, tackle boxes, cameras, Nintendos. It’s a pretty eclectic mix of things.
Acting as a conduit for guest experiences, Rahm said, was the primary reason the space was created.
“The hotel is really for the urban adventurer, people who want to get out and explore Portland,” Rahm said. “We hear all the time that people have taken a bike and gone to a food truck or to the [International Rose Test Garden], which is great. Building experiences that have positive impacts is important to us.
Other accommodations share Hotel Zags’ belief that a free set of wheels helps travelers have richer, deeper experiences on the road. Many hotels, such as the W in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Hawthorn Suites in Naples, Florida, the Halcyon in Denver and the Heywood Hotel in Austin, have launched free bike programs.
Although Denver’s Catbird Hotel didn’t open until August 2021, well before the pandemic hit, its sales and marketing manager, Austin Cooper, believes its double-loan programs have met the moment.
“It’s about thinking about what these people value in their own space that they’ve created for themselves at home, and how can we bring that to them as a service here,” Cooper said.
One of Catbird’s loan programs is for potted plants. The hotel has partnered with ReRoot, a local houseplant boutique, to provide flora (and brief care guides) that guests can take to their rooms to brighten up the space.
Cooper said part of the reasoning was that people were staying longer in hotels with the rise of remote working. Having access to extras such as plants makes their home more intimate.
The hotel’s other lending program is called Playroom. From here, customers can rent Vespa Primavera scooters, Polaroid cameras, backgammon boards, soccer balls, picnic kits, Vitamix blenders, panini presses, Ninja air fryers and more. again.
“It’s all the things that make customers feel at home here or get them out in the area,” Cooper said. “We really want them to get a sense of the neighborhood and be part of the community.”
Ultimately, Cooper said, traveling is about having experiences and creating memories. Access to libraries, traditional or otherwise, gives travelers a few additional tools to do so.
Berg is a Colorado Springs-based writer. Find it on Twitter (@baileybergs) and instagram (@byebaileyberg).
Prospective travelers should consider local and national public health guidelines regarding the pandemic before planning any travel. Information on travel health advisories can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map showing travel recommendations by destination and on the CDC’s travel health advisories webpage.