Public face of private labels

Recently, while checking in at the fabulous Taj in Mumbai, I was accosted by the familiar sight of the complimentary bottle of wine that greets every guest checking into their palace wing. At least, I think, it was complimentary or else I am now culpable for the crime of theft.

The bottle is called Palais and, last I checked, was an Italian one. The hotel F&B had made the painstaking effort to tie up with a reputed Italian producer, decided on a fairly good wine to stick a special label on and adopt it as their house wine. The bottle, with its gold-on-black print sticker, subtly outlining the hotel's silhouette reminds one of the unmistakeable facade that greets visitors to the hotel, besides the Gateway of India in India's financial capital. The bottle is placed in every room along with a set of lovely wine glasses (Zwiesel trumps Riedel any day) and an opener. Most guests drink it during their stay and those who are there for a short sojourn, make it a point to pack it into their departing luggage. Wherever they open the bottle, the wine will be appreciated and the hotel will be spoken about even as nostalgia floods the room.

Full marks to the hotel and its team then for a) choosing the right wine; b) branding it fantastically; and c) creating the best marketing campaign for their hotel ever!

What I fail to understand is why don't more places do this? In fact, apart from this hotel (and also its three palace properties in Rajasthan that use a superb Bordeaux claret from the house of Chateau Cos d'Estournel as their house wine) none of the other Taj properties does this. There are enough chains (hotels and restaurants) today across India that can benefit immensely from this client-centric effort to show respect and gratitude and award patronage, but the disappointing absence of more private labels across the board is just too hard to comprehend. Instead, most establishments are busy wasting time on run-of-the-mill loyalty programmes, meal coupons and discount vouchers—shoddy efforts mostly to keep clients; efforts that discount their own product and don't always bring back the most desirable guest profile.

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