Some entrepreneurs are inspired to start companies to solve a problem they have experienced in their own lives: GuestBox Founder and CEO Shuchi Vyas, for instance, was an Airbnb host and struggled to wow her guests with offerings beyond just the basics. She wanted her guests to feel welcome and like they received value for their money, too. “I would always go above and beyond,” Vyas told PYMNTS.com in an interview, pointing out that she would run out to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to buy something extra at the last minute. But that strategy took a toll on her schedule: She was managing international campaigns for Habitat for Humanity and her own travel schedule, after all. Vyas saw all kinds of subscription boxes on the market and thought, “Why not create something that actually helps hosts standardize a high-quality guest experience?” she recalled.
The company’s boxes, which contain luxury goods such as toiletries, skincare products and snacks, come with its branding at lower quantities. But, at higher quantities, “We’re actually able to provide co-branded and customized boxes,” as well with a hospitality property’s logo and branding. When the company first launched, it was testing multi-property Airbnb hosts, but GuestBox has since made a push with hotels (particularly boutique properties). These businesses can standardize their guest welcome budget, Vyas says, and they can provide useful items to their guests without much effort. Companies also don’t incur fluctuating hard costs with her product and the company works with them with their budget.
The aim is to help these hospitality companies replace the ad hoc solutions that properties create. The toiletries don’t compete with the products that hotels already provide, while the snack products are unique, healthy and a bit different than what they offer in a gift shop or mini bar. At the same time, they can give guests something that they will use for a longer time. If a guest does not use a product, the company provides a transparent TSA-friendly bag in each box. “You’re really able to give some longevity to that experience,” Vyas said, as opposed to say, fruit, that a guest may or may not eat on the spot.
GuestBox works with a variety of companies from large firms to mom-and-pop kinds of businesses. When it comes to specific firms, the company works with brands such as Justin’s (the maker of almond butter). According to the company’s website, other items in the box encompass products from brands like Alpine Start (instant coffee), Bear (fruit snack), Daily Concepts (exfoliating body scrubber) and Dr. Hubert’s (natural coconut toothpaste.) The aim is to provide brands that people know and those they’ve wanted to try in addition to companies that they are coming across for the first time through the boxes with an experience of familiarity and discovery.
eCommerce and Customization
The company lets customers purchase its boxes through its website, which Vyas noted is a great way to acquire a new client. (Through that option, the company accepts credit card as well as PayPal.) In those cases, they’re making a small investment to try the company out with anywhere from one to 10 boxes. The company offers those boxes on either a monthly or one-time basis. (According to the GuestBox website, there is a discount for consumers who opt for a subscription.) That’s where it gets requests for co-branding and customization.
When it comes to working with hotels, Vyas said the company works to understand a property’s overall demographics (such as the mix of men and women or share of business travelers). It might also mention, for instance, that there are certain companies that it works with as those firms could be located nearby. The company has an array of different product partnerships, and it seeks to select, mix and match from the list as it builds new relationships as well to offer relevant items to meet a given demographic.
With the help of eCommerce, customization and a roster of both big and small brands, online companies are aiming to provide boutique hotels and vacation rentals with a way to impress their guests through curated boxes of toiletries, snacks and skincare products.