Why hotel rooms are the next retail frontier

type - big idea
Big Idea
sector - retail
sector - travel & hospitality
Brands are augmenting the guest experience by turning hotel and rentals into immersive storefronts, ushering in a long-awaited revival of souvenirs

Bringing retail to rentals: Glimpse

Offering an antidote to e-commerce fatigue, Glimpse provides immersive opportunities to trial products in person – in a natural setting on holiday. Merging try-before-you-buy with the popularity of short-term rentals such as those available on Airbnb, the tool allows consumers to browse through a variety of products in a natural, home-like setting, from bedding to electronics and even direct-to-consumer names like cult water brand Liquid Death.

Brands, on the other hand, can select the ideal showrooms around the US to display their products, approving properties based on intelligent curations of over 8,000 short-term rentals in over 40 states.

Short-term rentals provide the perfect environment for customer engagement, as guests can truly experience these products in their intended setting,’ says Akash Raju, co-founder and CEO of Glimpse.

Elevating the ‘always shopping’ mindset: Minoan

Tuning into the idea that were always shopping, Minoan wants to be a convenient tool to help people quickly access and shop for products, particularly when there’s a post-pandemic boom of Bleisure travellers hitting the road. The best products are often discovered without intention – while living your life, or often, while on vacation. We believe the best retail experience happens all around you,’ the brand explains.

The idea for Minoan was born when its founder, Marc Hostovsky, discovered a high-end portable speaker in his Airbnb. He now works with more than 160 premium brands such as West Elm, Phaeton Books and Public Goods bodycare, providing property owners with steep discounts’ that allow them to finish a property to a high spec while also earning a percentage of product sales, ‘transforming the furnishing process from a cost centre to a source of revenue generation’.

Published by:

25 August 2022

Author: Holly Friend

Image: Minoan, US


Minoan, US

Turning guests into super-fans: The Host Co

This new platform allows Airbnb or home-sharing guests to buy or pre-order anything in their rental through a custom-made digital store, from the items in the pre-stocked pantry to the art on their walls. Essentially, operators can use The Host Co to create a virtual storefront, connecting with local stores or vendors to provide guests with a higher level of service – in a similar vein to a product concierge.

This even extends to services that would more typically be found in hotels, such as restocking fresh flowers or mid-stay linen laundry. In this way, The Host Co doubles as a personalised boutique that can be tweaked and tailored throughout the year to align with factors such as the seasons or who is staying – for example, a couple or extended family – and to match with guests’ personal preferences. According to The Host Co, some hosts are making up to £125 ($150, €147) more per booking, and are able to keep 93% of all sales.

Championing the souvenir market: LiBi (Love It, Buy It)

Built to help hotel brands streamline the shopping experience, UK-based platform LiBi uses QR codes to bring hospitality storefronts to life. From the mattress they sleep on to the paddleboards used during their stay, LiBi emphasises the emotional connection that people make to objects in their home-away-from-home.

‘We see the future of travel retail differently, where quality purchases and brand relationships of choice are forged with thought and meaning behind them’
Suzanne Mahoney, co-founder, LiBi

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