Erica Pierson knows what makes a good hair dryer. Pierson serves as regional sales manager for Conair Corp., a manufacturer and retailer of small appliances, personal-care tools and health and beauty products since it was founded in 1959, and as a lifelong traveler Pierson has worked to ensure the Conair products on offer in hotels reach the quality she expects on the road.
In advance of HOTEC Operations' upcoming event taking place June 2-4, 2019 at the Eau Palm Beach Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., Hotel Management spoke with Pierson to discuss upcoming hospitality trends, the amenities guests are most interested in and what she hopes to achieve attending this year’s HOTEC.
1. What are Conair’s primary objectives for 2019?
Our objectives for 2019 are to expand into new markets, such as boutiques and [vacation rental by owner].
We are working with American Hotel Register to package items such as ironing boards with hair dryers and shipping them to VRBOs as a sort of room in a box.
2. What are some of the challenges you have to overcome in the hotel segment this coming year?
We try to keep an eye on the economy. It’s difficult to turn off and turn on, so we’re constantly looking for trends. God forbid we have another event like 9/11. I wasn’t in the industry at the time but it took a long time for every business to overcome. From that perspective, watching the economy is a big deal. We know people are traveling right now, though, and that’s something to keep an eye on.
3. What sort of amenities are currently valued most by hotel guests?
Branded products are big in hospitality because they provide something guests are familiar with. Ninety-five percent of households have at least one or more Conair products. We have about 15 different brands, and people may not realize they have many of our brands already in their home. Having those recognizable amenities gives them the home-away-from-home feeling and that’s what we pride ourselves on. Cuisinart, bobby pins, hair dryers, flat irons… even before I worked at Conair I owned at least five of their brands!
4. What excites you most about the hospitality industry in 2019?
All the major players are continuing to open new flags and introduce new concepts to the industry. It’s nice to see new concepts such as Moxie and Aloft, which are taking chances and introducing cool concepts. So now we are bringing in products for [those brands]. Moxie has a pink hair dryer, Aloft has a yellow one, and more people are switching over from irons to steamers, which hotels are offering. I never would think a bright yellow canary hairdryer would be a requested product in a hotel!
5. What do you expect to get out of this year’s HOTEC event?
As a previous HOTEC attendee, I hope to continue to make new contacts and friends and keep my finger on the pulse of the industry. I’m always looking to get a feel for what we’re lacking. The way the event is set up, you don’t see one person once and never see them again. You see them at lunch, during meetings and throughout the day. These are friendships you make and they don’t just go away. That’s the way some of these shows go, and it’s not like that with HOTEC.