The hocance boom boosts the trade in used hotel equipment

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Free gifts at hotels may end this year due to disposable packaging regulations

Complimentary toiletries at Lotte Hotel Seoul (Lotte Hotel)

With overseas travel all but decimated by the pandemic, many Koreans are choosing to splurge for a one- or two-night stay at a luxury hotel. While trying to make the most of their hotel experiences, from free drinks at a lounge to access to an indoor pool or gym, some are even trying to recoup some of their expenses by reselling toiletries.

Yoon, a 33-year-old office worker in Seoul, recently spent a night at Josun Palace, a newly opened upscale hotel in Seoul’s Gangnam district. The first thing she did after entering her room, which costs between 330,000 won ($275) and more than 500,000 won ($420) a night, was to find six miniature bottles bearing the company logo. European luxury brand Byredo.

“I stuffed the goods in a separate bag to keep them neat and clean so (potential buyers) wouldn’t think they were used,” she said.

Yoon’s souvenir package from Josun Palace, consisting of hair shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, body lotion, weighing each 40ml and a soap, was sold for 30,000 won at an online second-hand market Joonggonara.

A screenshot of posts on Joonggonara selling bath products from luxury cosmetics brands that were provided to customers for free. (Joonggonara)

“A 225ml of Byredo body lotion is sold for 70,000 to 80,000 won at local department stores, so it was a real bargain,” she said.

A quick search of popular second-hand marketplace platforms shows that Yoon isn’t the only one swapping hotel freebies.

The number of posts on Joonggonara selling skincare products in hotels rose sharply from 550 in 2019 to 950 in 2021, according to the data.

Lim, a 28-year-old office worker in Daegu, also recently tried to resell hotel toiletries during her frequent business trips to Jeju.

“I travel to Jeju for business five to six times a year. Since I stay alone in a hotel, I can’t use all the free skin care products. Seeing a lot of leftover lotion and shampoo, I think it’s best to sell these high-end items online,” she said.

Some hotels have taken steps to limit freebies.

Sol Beach hotels and resorts in Gangwon Province and South Jeolla Province, for example, do not distribute another set of toiletries from beauty products manufacturer Aveda to guests staying two nights in a row, the channel said.

“As for customers staying two days in a row, we don’t replace products with new ones on the second day because the first set is enough to last two days and some people take them out to sell online,” said one. manager of the hotel chain. said.

Along with the resale trend comes the growing popularity of “hocances” in recent years. Combining the English word “hotel” and the French word for “vacance” (“holiday”), it is a Korean neologism referring to holidays primarily inside a hotel, in the same city or in a different city.

According to Good Choice, a local accommodation and flight booking app operated by Withinnovation, the transaction value of hotel bookings last year jumped 25% over the previous year.

However, luxury hotel gifts may no longer be available in the coming months as hotels come under increasing pressure to reduce the use of disposables.

The Department for the Environment has advised hotels with 50 or more rooms not to offer bath products with plastic packaging from this year, as part of a national campaign to reduce disposable products that has led to a ban on the use of paper cups, plastic straws and stirrers. in cafes and other restaurants.

Restrictions on the use of plastic in hotels and other types of accommodation will get legal backing from 2024, as part of the ministry’s plan to revise related laws.

Some hotels have already removed disposable equipment, but many are cautious due to current pandemic conditions.

Lotte Hotel, part of the Lotte Group, has already replaced recyclable dispensers of hair and body products offered at its L7 and Lotte City hotels in Seoul.

The Shilla Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Seoul and global hotel chain Marriott International also plan to stop offering beauty products with plastic packaging, officials told the Korea Herald.

Starting in late February, every guest room at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul will offer toiletries from high-end fragrance brand Diptyque in recyclable containers, an official said.

Marriott International said while it is committed to reducing plastics, it is exercising caution as guests worry about potential virus transmissions through shared items.

“The exact implementation date for the plan has not been determined, but (Marriot International) will soon begin removing plastic products from its hotels around the world,” an official said.

By Choi Jae-hee ([email protected])

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