The global supply chain crisis is hitting hotels where it hurts the most

Right now, supply chain shortages in hotels — and, quite frankly, everywhere else — are an all-too-familiar scenario in the wake of the pandemic. At the start of the week, the the wall street journal reported that properties across the country have struggled to source mini bottles of shampoo, towels and other basics. And get this: items such as champagne flutes are also rare.

Forget the flutes, says Bjorn Hanson, adjunct professor at the Tisch Center for Hospitality at New York University– even if they had the glasses, today’s properties may not be able to find the champagne to fill them. And no, it’s not a joke. “The list of what hotels need today that they don’t have due to supply shortages and shipping delays goes on and on,” he says. “A consumer typically buys one item, but hotels need 50, 100 or more of a single item, and those large quantities have been very difficult to come by.”

The Stone Hotel overlooking Central Park.

Bill Ross

Le Pierre, an upscale hotel on Fifth Avenue just off Central Park, is an example of a property that struggles to find the essentials. “We struggled to buy enough soap, shampoo, slippers, cotton swabs and many other items,” says general manager Francois-Olivier Luiggi. “We are a luxury hotel which means we want to provide our guests with a lot of amenities and need more items than many other properties.”

Because hotels tend to order their supplies a year in advance, he explained, La Pierre was well stocked for more than the first year after the pandemic began. Now that the world has opened up and hotel occupancy has increased (the first few weeks of January due to Omicron aside), Luiggi says the property has run out of supplies and ordering new inventory won’t help. was not easy. He and his team of managers have dealt with the problem by looking for alternatives that offer equal quality. Instead of Italian brand Etro for its in-room toiletries, for example, The Pierre switched to Fragonard from France. “Even that was difficult, but we succeeded,” he says.

Many hotels in New York have encountered similar difficulties, according to Vijay Dandapani, president and CEO of the New York City Hotel Association, an organization that represents 300 hotels in the three to five star range. “Anecdotally, we’ve heard of shortages of napkins, silverware, napkins, linens, and pretty much anything you can think of,” he says. The shortage of supplies probably only started to impact the guest experience in late November, Dandapani says, because hotel occupancy rates in the city were low. “When occupancy began to pick up again in December, it is possible that a stay for guests was and continues to be compromised due to the lack of certain goods,” he says.

Judging by occupancy levels nationwide, the situation in New York extends to the entire country. As the WSJ reported, “Despite the record number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, fueled by the Omicron variant, people are flocking to resorts, ski lodges and other recreational destinations. Hotel occupancy on Christmas Day hit a record high for that day at 47.2%, just above the previous 47% in 2015, according to hotel analytics firm STR.

New hotels have been particularly hard hit by supply shortages as they rush to open and establish a footprint and attract customers in a competitive industry.

Spanish way

Joe Raedle

Take the Esme Miami Beach, located on Española Way, which opened in November, about six months late. “Our setback has been the delays in supply,” says general manager Jessica LaRosa. “Our kitchen equipment was seriously delayed, and we needed it to pass our inspection, and the custom uniforms and furniture we ordered waited up to nine months.” Even now, LaRosa says, the property is still expecting custom pieces from Europe for its rooms and public spaces. In the meantime, Esme has been creative in finding temporary solutions. “One of our owners has a collection of fabulous antique furniture that is a perfect replacement for our custom order,” she says. “We roll with the punches as best we can.”


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