A Case Study in Hotel / Laundry Relationships

Perspectives on How hotels can Effectively Work with Their Laundry providers

By Joseph Ricci President & CEO, TRSA | June 05, 2016

Good relationships with all vendors in a hotel's supply chain are critical for smooth, efficient operations. With laundry, the stakes are higher than with many others; encountering stained linens or being forced to wait for towels can sour a guest's experience of a hotel. In this article, we take a close look at what a great hotel-laundry relationship looks like through a case study of the relationship between a large hotel and their commercial laundry contractor. We identify the principles underlying this successful partnership and what it means for hotels looking to close an on-premise laundry or select a new laundry provider.

Hotel guests don't usually spend a lot of time thinking about laundry-unless, of course, they have run out of towels. But they enjoy that luxury because housekeeping managers and other hotel managers devote resources to keeping soiled and clean linens flowing seamlessly in and out of the housekeeping closets and carts. For an increasing number of hotels, the secret to this success is a relationship with a commercial laundry services provider who launders, inspects and manages linens, sometimes under a rental agreement.

For a clean and seamless guest experience, that working relationship needs to be a strong, collaborative one. It requires shared quality standards, consistent communication and a mutual commitment to sustainability. To demonstrate that sort of relationship, I spoke with hotel leaders and the laundry providers that serve them. I hope the results can provide a roadmap to other hotels looking to close on-premise laundries (OPLs), change laundry providers or simply make the most of their outsourced laundry services.

Case Study: Westin SFO and Sacramento Laundry

Before he was a customer service manager for Sacramento Laundry Services, Marc Kuder was a housekeeping manager at a large California hotel. Before he was the housekeeping manager at the Westin SFO near San Francisco, Jason Lustbader worked for a commercial laundry. Their professional histories helped them find common ground that set a solid foundation for a collaborative working relationship that minimizes linen loss and maximizes sustainability efforts.

Located less than a mile from San Francisco International Airport, the bayside Westin SFO is has 397 guest rooms and 29 meeting rooms. Thanks to their location, they serve many business travelers, and they also host events in the form of corporate meetings and weddings. Sacramento Laundry Company serves a customer base in the hospitality industry. They use water-conserving machinery and eco-friendly chemicals and processes to launder about 80,000 pounds of linens per day in their 60,000 square foot facility. The two businesses began working together in September 2013.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.