Will Rent the Runway‘s hotel concierge deal change how people travel?

Discussion
Photo: W Hotels; Rent the Runway
Dec 06, 2019
George Anderson

Rent the Runway has teamed up with W Hotels in a deal that will enable guests at the Marriott property to travel in style wearing specially selected items from the subscription service’s clothing wardrobe.

Guests who book a room at one of four of the hotel’s properties — W Aspen, W South Beach, W Washington D.C. and W Hollywood — will be given access to Rent the Runway’s Unlimited Closet collection for $69. The subscription service has also put together a curated selection of items to fit the needs of travelers to each of the specific locations. Items ordered by guests will be waiting for them upon check-in and can be dropped off at each site’s Welcome Desk at checkout.

“Traveling without luggage has always been my dream,” said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway, in a statement.We are thrilled to partner with W Hotels to bring the RTR Closet Concierge to life, so travelers can simply show up and have their dream closet waiting for them in their hotel room.”

“Collaborating with Rent the Runway — such a creative, conscious and trend-setting brand — allows us to reinvent the way our guests pack and dress as they travel,” said Anthony Ingham, global brand leader at W Hotels. “Skipping the packing process is a whole new level of luxury for our guests and is yet another surprising way [we] continue to reinvent hospitality.”

Will Rent the Runway‘s hotel concierge deal change how people travel?
Photo: W Hotels; Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway heads into its deal with W Hotels just a few months after announcing a pause on new subscriptions and special occasion clothing rentals due to issues in the company’s supply chain. The announcement made in September followed complaints on social media by Rent the Runway subscribers about delayed or canceled orders. The company blamed the delays on “unforeseen issues associated with a significant software transformation” at its New Jersey distribution center.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree with Rent the Runway and W Hotels that the deal between the two companies has the potential to dramatically change the way many people travel? Would it be worth $69 to you to pack lighter when you travel for business or pleasure?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Renting a wardrobe for $69 sounds like a true game-changer for W Hotels. If this takes off (and I’m sure it will) other hotels will be pressured to add this amenity as well. "
"Now this is a great idea. I’m imagining packing about half the crap I would normally pack and just renting what I need when I get there."
"This is amazing...It also has the magic touch of solving a problem the consumer did not know they had."

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19 Comments on "Will Rent the Runway‘s hotel concierge deal change how people travel?"


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Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Rent the Runway’s foray into hospitality/travel is yet another brilliant business extension for RTR. Was it chosen as a lower-volume growth vehicle that won’t put strain on the structure? The stakes are certainly higher for people traveling for business or special occasions so “we’re sorry” won’t soothe any snafus this time. Rent the Runway is setting the standard for innovative partnerships and brand extensions. Hopefully it can remedy supply chain issues to reach its full potential.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Renting a wardrobe for $69 sounds like a true game-changer for W Hotels. If this takes off (and I’m sure it will) other hotels will be pressured to add this amenity as well. I’m sure the people at Le Tote and Lord & Taylor will be watching this closely.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

And speaking of “taking off,” imagine now you are sitting in an airplane with free Wi-Fi. You had forgotten to bring with you the something-or-other you needed for this trip. You open up your “travel portal” app. You enter your destination. You select the “clothing” category. You go to the RTR site (they would participate). You order what you need. You enter the final destination hotel and bingo! You’re saved at the last minute.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

The brilliance of this idea lies in the simplicity of the logic. It’s a perfect extension of the rental model. I can see it as especially useful in traveling between different climates. Live in Miami and traveling to Denver? It’s January and your closet is not exactly well stocked in cold weather gear? But it would only take a couple of disappointments for word of mouth to kill this great idea. Travelers arriving at their destination would NOT want to deal with a wardrobe malfunction.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

WOW. I only wish this was available for men and I could be sure what I ordered would be there and fit properly. For $69 it is a no-brainer. Traveling almost costs me that in cleaning bills.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Retailers are getting more creative. Many things will change the way we travel and all of them are possible because of already-existing technology that has to be put to another use (we call these use cases).

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Retail Industry Analyst
8 months 7 hours ago

This is a stellar idea. When traveling to an important meeting, dinner or event, packing formal apparel is always a challenge due to wrinkles. The ability to have the clothing ready for you at the hotel will enable people to pack less and avoid the headache of wrinkled clothing. This is a great strategy that, if properly promoted, should be a success.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

It would absolutely be worth the $69 if I were assured that that garments I chose were guaranteed to fit. If they didn’t, or were not what I visualized when I placed the order, I imagine my panic would be similar to an airline losing my luggage.

Westin’s Gear Lending program, a partnership with New Balance, allows guests to rent running shoes and attire at its hotels. This I would do, but leaving my wardrobe to chance before a presentation? I think this partnership with Rent the Runway is a great idea, but personally I’m not there yet.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

Good point. I do wonder how well Rent the Runway fits on the first try. If it was home and it doesn’t fit you can return it, but as you said it is one off for one night, a misfit would be bad….

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

This is amazing. A superb example of a new business model and exploiting a new ecosystem partner relationship. It also has the magic touch of solving a problem the consumer did not know they had. So often a stay at a hotel is paired with an important social engagement so this seems to make absolute sense from a consumer perspective.

It also suggests “free and unconstrained thinking” on the part of both parties. Preconceived ideas of what might or might not be possible can sometimes get in the way of innovation – as indeed can technical obstacles. In my experience, eliminating these is key to successful innovation.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Great idea. Success will depend upon how well RTR manages the subjectivity of individual client fit, look and feel preferences, while under the emotional pressure and expectations of a long awaited vacation or important business meeting. Four hotel experiences may give RTR insights, invisible during the in-home experience, to individual human responses to the RTR algorithms. A test lab of sorts.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Sold! Of course, many travelers will find this an outstanding offer. Two immediate concerns come to mind:

  1. Not only does RTR need to ensure the items will be there (no room for error) they need a way to ensure the right fit. Travelers arriving to find the size they thought was right for them doesn’t fit will be greatly disappointed and potentially have nothing to wear!
  2. Why just these four hotels? Sure, this is a great test of the logistics needed to ensure 100 percent success rates, but I can see this being a game-changer for Marriott hotels if they can work out the necessary logistics with RTR to supply this across their properties. I can see this as a new feature in their Bonvoy app as an option for a reservation booking. I’m sure other hotel chains will be watching this closely!
Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Now this is a great idea. I’m imagining packing about half the crap I would normally pack and just renting what I need when I get there. You usually pick the wrong thing somewhere down the line and wind up buying something overpriced anyway (see also: Baja). Dress up? Dress down? Solve it when you get there. I love it.

My only question is, from a purely business/investor standpoint is; how big an opportunity is this? Twenty hotels? Thirty? I believe we’re talking thousands here, not millions and certainly not billions. Nonetheless this is a great idea and definitely repeatable (by other companies).

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

It’s a great promise, but can they deliver consistently? Oh and how does RTR make money on this exactly with all the shipping and dry cleaning?

Scott Norris
Guest

Breakthrough thinking! Now let’s take this to the next level. How about this:

Seatback ordering on Delta’s inflight entertainment system + Target.com = items available in a locker right next to the baggage claim at your destination by the time you arrive (give it a two-hour window). Delta is putting in seatback screens across the fleet while American is taking them out. Target has the selection, quality, and most importantly proven capability this year of fast fulfillment.

I would have used this twice in the last month!

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Brilliant solution to help consumers travel light. This partnership will attract shoppers for the convenience, variety and hassle-free nature of the customer experience.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Why not? Many folks expense their dry cleaning bills to their employers. Why not a subscription service for apparel? As long as the selection, sizing and drop-off/pick-up are satisfactory … why not?!

Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

What a great idea! Not only does it offer up a new way for RTR to gain customers and create brand loyalty, but it also offers customers the benefit of packing much lighter on their next trip to avoid those pesky airline fees.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

No. This is a solution looking for a problem. Packing light (in a small suitcase) that fits in the overhead, plus one additional personal bag, can handle most people’s needs for several days or longer. Rent the Runway’s hotel concierge does not address the more personal issue of makeup, toiletries, medications, personal beauty aids and equipment that people insist on taking with them when they travel. People who travel have personal requirements that go much further than simply the clothing that they wear.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Renting a wardrobe for $69 sounds like a true game-changer for W Hotels. If this takes off (and I’m sure it will) other hotels will be pressured to add this amenity as well. "
"Now this is a great idea. I’m imagining packing about half the crap I would normally pack and just renting what I need when I get there."
"This is amazing...It also has the magic touch of solving a problem the consumer did not know they had."

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