By Chris Kim, Ed Hawkins and David Hill. Published on 11/27/2018 in Hotel Management.
Today’s hotel operators can appreciate the importance of managing a reliable laundry and linen program. Hotel guestrooms, along with food-and-beverage departments, simply can’t function without it. Travelers trust that hotels are providing them with clean bedding, bath towels and table linens 365 days a year; if that trust is broken, loyalty will disappear as well. Unfortunately, running a hotel laundry is far more complicated and costly today than in years past. Maintaining periodic automatic replenishment levels, protecting staff from chemicals spills, rising labor costs and shrinking allocations of physical space are just a few of the many challenges. The alternative is to outsource to a commercial laundry, preferably one that features considerable automation. When sheets, pillowcases, towels and table linens can be folded by machines, it reduces laundry operating costs significantly.
Here are just a few considerations impacting owners’ decisions to outsource their laundry processes:
- Labor represents 50 percent of a hotel’s laundry operating costs. In cities where the minimum wage is exceeding $15 per hour, it is cost-prohibitive to staff an on-site laundry.
- As new hotels are being built, owners and developers are allocating less discretionary space for nonrevenue-generating areas like laundry and linen storage. In some cases, onsite laundries are excluded from the planning altogether because it is deemed an unnecessary expense.
- Larger hotels, especially those in the full-service and luxury segments, are removing laundries during renovations and using the empty space to lease to a dry cleaner or they are finding that it can be used as meeting space, depending on its location in the building. If location is a problem, the vacant area is ideal for engineering offices or inventory storage.
- Do-it-yourself laundry machines are proving to boost satisfaction for guests in the select-service and extended-stay segments. Adding this convenience for guests requiring onsite servicing is taking the pressure off hoteliers to manage the process themselves.
Automation Lowers Costs
Technology is one of the main reasons that hoteliers are choosing to outsource their laundry operations. Not only do commercial laundries eliminate investment risk and lower costs across the board, they are more adept at using chemicals properly. Owners can avoid costly workers’ compensation claims and remove risk and physical damage from chemical spills, while extending linen life at the same time. Improved wash formulas use new chemicals to combat premature wear and tear of linens, and they do a better job of removing stains and extending linen life. With greener technology and better chemistry, hotels are less likely to discard linens prematurely, especially when there is less damage from overdrying. According to TRSA, a group that represents companies that supply, launder and maintain linens and uniforms, newer technology is extending linen life by 20 to 30 percent.