By John Goetz
January 20, 2020
Today, hotels are faced with increased competition from other properties and competitors like Airbnb. Research released in 2018 found that in the ten US cities with the largest Airbnb market share, hotels saw a 1.5% decline in revenue. Additionally, a study conducted by TripAdvisor revealed that four out of five of those surveyed (81%) always or frequently read reviews before booking a place to stay. More than ever before, hotels need to find ways to retain loyal customers and attract new business through positive referrals.
According to the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA), the US commercial textile service industry processes 15 billion pounds of laundry annually, and hospitality businesses process about half of this total. With so much riding on the cleanliness of linen, hospitality managers overseeing laundry operations learn that it is important to understand the laundry process in detail. Being familiar with every aspect of the process, as well as tips for success, can help increase profitability, guest satisfaction and sustainability efforts.
Factors Affecting the Triple Bottom Line
The triple bottom line is often referred to as people, planet and profit. This framework allows organizations to evaluate their performance more broadly and understand how processes impact key constituents, the environment and profitability. Perfecting the laundry process is vital for keeping linen clean and customers happy, or the “people” component. It also plays a major role in supporting sustainability (“planet”) and keeping costs in line (“profit”).
There are many factors impacting the laundry process that need to work together seamlessly. These include labor, as well as chemical, energy and water consumption:
- Labor. Training staff on the proper use of machinery, such as chemical dispensing systems and standard operating procedures, is essential as it reduces downtime and allows staff to move on to other key tasks. Selecting easy-to-use, low-maintenance equipment reduces the training burden by shortening learning curves. When employees clearly understand their responsibilities and how to wash linen correctly, it can contribute to lower rewash rates, which also lessens energy and water consumption. Increasingly, on-site laundry operations are turning to equipment like smart dispensers that can further boost productivity and curb operating costs by closely monitoring the laundry process.
- Chemical. Using the right type and amount of chemical when washing linen is essential for thoroughly removing difficult spots and stains from sources such as makeup, coffee, and wine. Even with items that appear clean at first glance, applying the appropriate chemicals is key to properly disinfecting towels, bedsheets and cloth napkins for the next guest’s use. Too little chemical can drive up rewash rates while too much chemical is wasteful and can also impact the texture and quality of linen. Therefore, investing in the right laundry solutions is imperative for accurately and consistently dosing chemicals into washers.
- Energy. Washer-extractors, tunnel washers, dryers and other equipment associated with the laundry operation require large volumes of energy and utilities to function properly. Most machines typically wash laundry at 160 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively disinfect linen and reduce the amount of chemical, time and mechanical action needed to achieve cleanliness. Keeping energy consumption low by incorporating best practices and curbing rewash rates helps reduce operational costs and supports sustainability initiatives.
- Water. The amount of water used in laundries varies tremendously. The Alliance for Water Efficiency estimates that water and wastewater costs can represent as much as 50% of the total operating expenses of laundry operations. To keep water consumption from skyrocketing, hotels should invest in technology that monitors water usage and install dispensing systems that produce water savings.
Best Practices for Improving the Laundry Process
Consider incorporating the following recommendations to improve the laundry process in your hotel operation:
- Implement low-temperature wash programs. Lower temperature washing, in combination with low-temperature chemicals, can reduce the washing energy consumption considerably. Implementing a low-temperature wash program also prolongs the life of linen. Linen washed at lower temperatures goes through less wear than linen washed using higher water temperatures. However, while cold water washing can result in 50% savings, it may not clean and disinfect linen properly without the proper chemical use and dosage. Before switching to a low-temperature program, make sure you have the right tools and system in place to monitor and show that the proper chemical dose was delivered.
- Install accurate and reliable dispensers. The monetary and environmental cost of cleaning linen is high, especially when chemical is not properly delivered or diluted. Today, hotel properties can install smart dispensing solutions that offer increased visibility into operations and optimize production, reduce cost and increase guest satisfaction. These smart platforms can be operated remotely and transmit real-time data back to managers, who can alert employees of any abnormalities during wash cycles.
- Use dispensing data to drive continuous improvement. Utilizing data collected from smart dispensing platforms can lead to a more efficient operation. Today’s intelligent dispensing platforms provide users with precise data on productivity levels, chemical use, chemical cost per formula, inefficiencies and analytics into the entire process. The use of this information will further improve the operation and will ensure profitability and sustainability.
- Conduct preventative maintenance. Creating a schedule of preventative maintenance for washers, dryers and dispensers can reduce the risk of wear and breakage. The cost associated with broken equipment not only includes the cost of repair but also the cost of additional labor and downtime. Preventative maintenance ensures equipment functions as it is intended to and prolongs the lifespan of expensive and important equipment that is used daily.
A Smarter Approach
No hotel guest wants to be greeted with stained towels or scratchy bedsheets that are past their prime. With increasing competition from platforms such as Airbnb, the hotel industry must recognize the role that clean linen plays in securing repeat business and rave reviews. By keeping the triple bottom line in mind and implementing an efficient laundry process that includes new technologies and best practices, properties can set themselves up for success.
John Goetz is a global product manager for Hydro Systems, a world leader in delivering chemical dispensing and dosing solutions including equipment, software and services. For more information, visit www.hydrosystemsco.com.
 Farronato, C., & Fradkin, A. (2018, February 22). The Welfare Effects of Peer Entry in the Accommodation Market: The Case of Airbnb. Retrieved January 20, 2020, from https://www.nber.org/papers/w24361
 Online Reviews Remain a Trusted Source of Information When Booking Trips, Reveals New Research – Jul 16, 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2020, from https://tripadvisor.mediaroom.com/2019-07-16-Online-Reviews-Remain-a-Trusted-Source-of-Information-When-Booking-Trips-Reveals-New-Research
 Fixtures, Appliances, and Equipment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2020, from http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/commercial_laundry.aspx
 (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2020, from http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/297086/What-to-consider-between-in-house-outsourced-laundry