Should hotels provide free period care products? Meet Hannah Frances Boulton, who’s campaigning to get hotels to start providing tampons and pads to guests.
Firstly, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
“I’m a travel writer, hotel reviewer and consultant with a background in hospitality marketing. Alongside my freelance work, I run a creative consultancy business called Hotel Palette which advises hoteliers on guest experience, brand purpose and marketing strategy.”
What’s the ‘Checking in When You’re On’ campaign all about?
“Last year, I stayed at over fifty different hotels and started to notice the absence of period care products in bathrooms. Not a single hotel that I stayed in – including a number of luxury properties – provided these essential items as standard bathroom amenities.
I put together a survey to gather the experiences and opinions of other female travellers. Of the people that completed the questionnaire, an overwhelming majority had never stayed in a hotel that offer pads or tampons in the bathroom and would like to see these products provided.”
Why do you think many hotels do not provide period care essentials in the room?
“I’ve raised this with a handful of clients who are mostly concerned about the degree of choice and personal preference in the period care market, but my experience and research has proved that when we’re caught out, we would be grateful for whatever is at hand.
Price is another factor, but the argument for increased spend is that tampons and pads are essential items much like toilet roll and tissues, and not luxury products. This point was emphasised by many of my survey respondents.”
When doing your survey and research, what stood out to you?
“I was taken aback by the number of personal stories that women shared, including an incident abroad where reception staff didn’t understand a late-night request for a tampon, and another forgetting their moon cup for a rural hotel stay. These moments are awkward and can spoil a whole trip.”
Why are you specifically campaigning for hotels to choose eco-friendly period care?
“The environmental impact and waste created by the packaging of pads and tampons was a point of concern for many people that completed the survey. There’s a growing awareness of the bleach and toxins used in products supplied by market leaders and the impact of the single-use plastic packaging, creating a demand for biodegradable, organic and reusable alternatives.
I’m currently working on a number of sustainability initiatives with clients, as the food waste, energy consumption and excessive use of single-use plastics in hotels is shocking, and something I’m working to change albeit through lots of tiny improvements. Partnering with like-minded suppliers with a transparent supply chain and a focus on sustainability can help reduce environmental impact throughout any hotel. “
Why do you think the hotels can benefit from providing period care in the room?
“I searched TripAdvisor for bars, restaurants and hotels that I know provide period care products in their bathrooms and found that it was nearly always commented upon in reviews. It’s a thoughtful touch that could be the difference between booking and the guest looking elsewhere. And the stats on female buying power in the travel industry are pretty persuasive.
It’s important to mention that most hotels do provide these products at reception, along with toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Sometimes they’re free, other times they’re not – but they are available. The point I’m trying to make with this campaign is that when I’m desperate for a tampon, it’s really not convenient to go down to reception and ask for one. It’s a question of comfort, and luxury hotels are in the business of comfort, so it seems foolish to overlook female products when planning bathroom amenities.
I feel sad suggesting that the provision of tampons and pads is progressive, but I do think hotels providing these products would have an extremely positive impact on the normalisation of periods in our society. “
What are the next steps for your campaign and how can people support this?
“I’m currently in talks with a number of small hotels who will hopefully introduce a small selection of period care products to bathrooms this year. For updates, people can follow Palette on Twitter @hotelpalette.”