7 Hot Markets to Penetrate Now: Break Into the Hospitality Market

Businesses that specialize in welcoming guests, such as restaurants, hotels and resorts, count on decorators to help them make brand impressions and provide a cohesive look with uniform programs. Over three-quarters(77%) of large decorators who responded to this year’s State of the Industry survey reported selling into this market.

Tactic 1: Scout out prospects

Donna Szakats, owner of Spring Lake, NJ-based Initial Impact, keeps track of new restaurant members in her local Chambers of Commerce. “Sometimes they join before even opening their doors,” she explains. “We introduce ourselves at meetings and mention our other area customers.” Albuquerque, NM-based Black Duck Inc. scopesout clients that could use any of the e-commerce store,fulfillment, packaging and shipping services it provides. “We try to solve their pain point,” says Erich Campbell, e-commerce manager and digitizer.

Tactic 2: Get a leg up on hospitality wear

Traditionally, front-of-house employees need crisp, classic options, such as poplin or oxford shirts, black pants with stretch, vests and aprons, says Taraynn Lloyd, vice president of marketing for Edwards Garment (asi/51752). Nelson Penalver, vice president of LOI Marketing (asi/255497) in Miami, sells mainly polos and golf shirts for resort staff, as well as camp shirts and tanks for retail needs. For progressive companies with younger staff, consider fashion-forward T-shirts with understated logos.

Tactic 3: Make an appointment

A decorator should do deep research on the company they’re courting. Penalver recommends first visiting as a guest. When asking for an appointment, either over the phone or in person, know who should be present, whether it’s a uniform coordinator, purchasing agent or individual department head, says Joe’l Bastien, director of strategic accounts at alphabroder (asi/34063). “Oftentimes, they all have a hand in the decision-making. If possible, present to all of them, so there’s buy-in from everyone.”

Tactic 4: Make sure preferred styles are in stock

Clients often stick to tried-and-true styles to maintain group cohesion, though that doesn’t mean Campbell won’t try to pitch others. “You have to demonstrate that your finger is on the pulse,” he says. “Have a stock of favorites, and always make sure suppliers have what you need.”

Tactic 5: Keep clients front-of-mind all year.

To create long-term loyalty, “stay involved,” says Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images (asi/702505). “Ask about upcoming needs, team up on fundraisers and promote each other.” Ginny Fineberg, owner of Wildwood Crest, NJ-based Sandpiper Embroidery, suggests digitizing their logo and keeping it on file for one-offs for loyal clients’ new hires,” she says. – SL

From the Buyer’s Mouth

UCR Delias.jpg
a and p- 2nd tee back.png

Heather and Frank Delia own Utica Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee roasting enterprise and café in Utica, NY. They pride themselves on serving the highest quality coffee available, in small batches, for retail and wholesale markets. “We practice current, sustainable, renewable business practices, and we hire and sell locally,” Heather Delia says. “We say our coffee is synonymous with Utica itself in that it’s simplistic, no-nonsense, rich and strongly independent.” Utica Coffee Roasters turns to A&P Master Images (asi/702505;) to provide it with T-shirts, sweatshirts, headwear and hard goods, for its apparel program and merchandise. “We appreciate the quality, price, great service and strong relationship,” Delia says. “Decorated apparel is part of our brand strategy, and a revenue source. We do business locally as well.”

Case Study

How I Scored Sandals and Beaches Resorts

Nelson Penalver, vice president of LOI Marketing (asi/255497) in Miami, has worked with Sandals and Beaches resorts at its various locations across the Caribbean for 10 years, supplying uniform apparel and for-sale merchandise. It’s a significant account, and Penalver initiated the relationship with a cold call. “I called them up, found the advertising department, and made an appointment with them,” Penalver says. He continues to provide polos, T-shirts, hats, custom-made camp shirts and even winter coats. Penalver estimates that he’s sold more than 90,000 pieces of apparel to Sandals and Beaches resorts over the past decade.

As the resort chain started to approach LOI Marketing for additional needs, Penalver made sure he could meet the requests. “When there’s a client-specific event, they come to me,” he says. “They have their best guests coming in, and they want me to help them with products. When they say ‘jump,’ I say ‘How high?’”

Landing and keeping a large and discerning client in the hospitality sector is two-fold, Penalver says. “You have to understand the way they market using promo products, as well as the kinds of styles you can offer,” he says. “You present a solution based on facts. You want to be a partner and advisor, not just a supplier because they compete with everyone. I bring samples with me on sales calls, because they want to see and touch” the garments.

Hospitality Market

What You Need to Know Now

From the legions of staff at hotels and resorts, to the countless shifts of servers at restaurants, bars and bistros, the hospitality industry is vast. Check out the following impressive statistics and find out where you can create your niche.


The National Restaurant Association predicts that restaurant sales will hit a record high of $709.2 billion in 2015, and that the restaurant industry will maintain its ranking as the second-largest employer in the private sector, with a workforce of 14 million people.
Tip: To make sure these employees are accounted for when pitching a uniform program, research all the possible applications for one particular client. “Always be ready to pitch to subgroups,” says Erich Campbell, e-commerce manager and digitizer at Black Duck Inc. “Do your research on the company, and when you bring the wovens for servers and the front desk staff, also bring polos, aprons and caps for the in-house coffee shop.”.


Hot Apparel: Vantage Apparel (asi/93390;circle 90 on Free Info Card) carries the Clutch Bio-Washed Unconstructed Twill Cap (0700) that’s made of 100% cotton twill and comes in a variety of vintage colors and features a neutral logo.

3.2% In its latest Restaurant Industry Forecast, the National Restaurant Association estimates that the number of employees in the restaurant industry will increase by 3.2% in 2015. This equates to approximately one in 10 employed Americans.

Across the globe, the hotel industry maintains an estimated 14.6 million rooms, according to Smith Travel Research.

Tip: One of LOI Marketing's (asi/255497) larger clients, a major Caribbean-based resort chain, has approximately 10,300 employees, from concierges, to housekeepers, to kitchen staff and more. After a decade of servicing the account, VP Nelson Penalver estimates he’s only just scratched the surface of what’s possible to provide them. “Sometimes I’ll show them products they didn’t even ask about, just because I thought of them,” he says. “You have to keep giving them ideas and build trust.”

$777.9 billon The U.S. Travel Association estimates Americans spent $777.9 billion on travel within the U.S. in 2015, and that America welcomed 72.2 million international visitors in the same time period. Those numbers are expected to rise to $805.7 billion and 75.1 million, respectively.

45% increase In a recent study, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that hotel construction will increase 45% in 2015 over its 2014 pace.

According to MMGY Global, a travel marketing agency, millennials make up approximately a third of all American travelers, and will make up over half by 2025.
Tip: Black Duck Inc.’s Campbell says that fashion-forward companies in the hospitality industry, especially those with a majority of employees in their 20s, increasingly look to garment-dyed fabrics, military-inspired styles and eye-catching patterns for their uniforms and merchandise offerings. “They want to maintain their own design,” Campbell says. “There’s more awareness now that a place should have its own look, and many look to retail trends.”

Continue to Health-Care Market      Go Back to Service Market