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Hotel Hair Dryers–They Blew It

The Scribble Lounge was on a brief hiatus due to the editor giving birth to an adorable baby girl.  But we’re back! Thank you for reading.

Hotels today strive to make their amenities not just like home, but better than home.  The Alex Hotel in NYC and Ritz-Carlton hotels feature luxury Italian-made Frette linens. Aveda and Bliss brand toiletries are staples in many hotel bathrooms.  Loews hotels have a welcome bag for your dog, complete with gourmet treats and poop bags.  But when it comes to the hair dryers, even at top of the line hotels, they falter.  Badly.

At a Kimpton Hotel, Washington, DC

The issue is four-fold.  The design of the wall-mounted dryers allow long hair to be sucked into the air-intake fan, leading to that sizzle and awful smell of burning hair.  The cords are too short. In addition, many hotel hair dryers are a measly 1600 watts.  For a woman going to a business meeting, that means allowing at least an hour to dry her hair.  An hour with these dryers often leads to burn out and a half-wet head.  1875 watts is recommended for quick drying time and the power of many $25 drug store dryers.  For less than $50, hotels could really provide a great option to guests.

For years, this element of travel, for business and pleasure, has been my bailiwick.   I was most appalled with a stay at the ritzy Miami Mandarin Oriental in 2005.  The hair dryer was the standard issue wall model that practically ripped my hair out.  I wrote the manager afterward and received a personal response.  But for some reason, I doubt that all hairdryers in all Mandarins were updated.

Sexism?

The number of women travelers varies widely, depending on the source.  The Bureau of Travel Statistics claims 77% of business travelers and 54% of general travelers are men.  Other surveys suggest as many as half of business travelers are women.

Super Solano 1875: A REAL Hair Dryer

A 2003 study by New York University, “Coming of Age: The Continuing Evolution of Female Business Travelers,” found that only 51% of women business travelers felt like valued customers at hotels.  From that survey, the top three amenities women “must have” to be productive on the road are a mini-bar (71%), brand-name bath amenities (56%) and spa services (47%).  OK, so a hair dryer isn’t on that list.  Perhaps they have resigned themselves to packing their own, so they don’t even give it a second look.  But they should!

When it comes to travel in general, Travel + Leisure estimates that women make 80% of all travel decisions.  Eighty percent!


Theft deterrence and a marketing opportunity

Hotels are probably worried that decent hair dryers would walk along with the nice toiletries.  (Admit it–you made sure to get extra travel-size sets of Bliss or Aveda products.  And for fancier brands, you might even raid the housekeeping cart).  But just like your bill will be inflated if you poach the fluffy bathrobe, the same policy could apply.  Problem solved.

At the Westin in Chicago

In fact, when hotels offer fancy toiletries, there’s a two-fold benefit that could apply to hair dryers.  The hotels appear to cater to customer needs with high end products and the companies likely get increased sales after hotel guests sample those products.  The same could work for hairdryers.  Companies like Sephora or Folica.com could reach new customers easily with a tag on the hair dryer cord: “Like this dryer? Buy one for home at Folica.com.”  Or, like “W” brands everything from its bed linens to its towels, hotels could brand high-end hair dryers.

The Cranky Consumer

Surely I can’t be the only one with this gripe.  However, a web search only turned up complaints about general lack of hair dryers in particular hotels.  I say traveling tress dressers unite!  With luggage restrictions, bringing a personal hair dryer adds unnecessary weight and takes up valuable space, space that would likely be better fit with an extra pair of shoes.  It’s not just a business travel issue.  Any travel experience where appearance must be tended to is a target:  weddings, vacations, reunions just to name a few.  Why can’t my hair look as good on the road as it does at home?

The Campaign

I can’t do this alone.  Next time you are at a hotel and it takes too long to dry your hair or worse, it gets fried, drop the manager a note.  Comment on the survey that will land in your email in-box after your trip.  Stand up for your hair–it’s the one accessory you wear each and every day.

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