Research company Trend Hunter last year released a list of the 25 most high-tech hotel innovations. As one might expect, the list included such innovations as digital key access via guests’ smartphones, robots that make small-item deliveries to guestrooms, virtual reality previews used for marketing properties, and artificial-intelligence-enabled systems in rooms such as Amazon’s Alexa. Hotels are laser-focused on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing tools and amenities that their guests may soon come to expect. But what didn’t make the list of most high-tech hotel innovations is a hotel’s laundry services.
There are plenty of opportunities to improve hotel laundry operations. According to TRSA research, less than half of all hotels account for key laundry costs such as energy, water, machinery maintenance, and employee labor costs, and one in three would prefer to outsource their laundry services altogether.
But this isn’t just a back-of-house issue—a growing number of consumers care about sustainability when they travel. TRSA research found that nearly 60 percent of consumers want hotels to pursue more environmentally friendly laundry practices. Even when hotels do implement conservation programs, 77 percent of consumers in the TRSA research felt that those programs are just about saving money. But consumers do not have a preference whether a hotel’s sheets and towels are laundered on- or off-site—they choose a hotel based on factors like price, location, and amenities. While guests do expect the quality of linens at a property to correspond with the tier of the hotel, they care more about how sustainably their linens are laundered rather than where they are laundered. Outsourcing laundry services is an option for hotels to use fewer resources such as water and energy while also ensuring guest satisfaction.
There is significant room to improve hotel laundry cost calculations and to better educate guests on specific steps hotels are taking–on their own or with a commercial laundry partner–to reduce their carbon footprint. And by innovating an area of a hotel where the money is—like laundry services—hotels can focus on other innovations to the property—like adding digitized check-in kiosks—that guests may soon come to expect.
About the Author
Joseph Ricci is the president and CEO of TRSA, the association for the linen, uniform and facility services industry.