By Simon Hart, National Account Manager at the Professional division of Miele
The PwC UK Hotels Forecast report estimates that the sector’s ‘revenue per available room’ growth will remain static at 0.3% for 2019, as it did for 2018. That rings alarm bells when it’s compared to the 4.6% growth that it saw in 2017. The industry is competing with alternative forms of accommodation, including services provided by the likes of Airbnb and Couchsurfing.com. In fact, 42% of Airbnb customers use the platform to find accommodation instead of booking a hotel every time they travel, according to investment banking company Morgan Stanley. It’s key for hotels to set themselves apart from competitors to win back this business.
In a Miele survey of 100 UK hotel workers, we found that cleanliness is the top priority among guests. This means that hoteliers should invest in quality on-premise laundry (OPL) equipment to ensure that bed linen and towels are thoroughly cleaned. Few providers of Airbnb accommodation can buy commercial laundry equipment, and that’s how hotels can offer a competitive advantage by ensuring that guests never go without immaculately clean towels and spotless bed linen.
But OPL will only be a success if hoteliers pay careful consideration to the machines they have in place. If not, OPL won’t work to the hotel’s advantage. Here are some dangers of poor OPL equipment, and how hoteliers can ensure that they use appliances that don’t pose these risks:-
Good value for money is a hotelier’s top requirement when looking for new laundry equipment, according to our survey. Despite this, only a third are happy with the cost of their machines. The key is to invest in laundry equipment that can withstand constant use and promise longevity. Commercial washing machines and dryers last longer than domestic ones, and while this is the more expensive option, it pays off in the long-term as the hotel won’t need to pay for an OPL upgrade so soon.
Slow room turnaround times
Our survey found that laundry turnaround time is the most common laundry challenge for hotel staff. Without washing bed linen and towels, and returning them to rooms in time for check-in, guests won’t get into their rooms at the time they were promised, impacting on customer service. A commercial washing machine and tumble dryer can eradicate this, and carry out laundry quicker than domestic equipment, without compromising on the quality of the washing and drying processes. As a result, guest check-in times won’t be affected.
Poor quality washes
One of the most common cleanliness complaints according to the hotel workers we surveyed are about stains on bed linen. There’s a good chance that an ageing, worn-out machine no longer performs well and doesn’t clean items thoroughly enough, leaving dirty marks on bed linen and towels. TripAdvisor has many bad hotel reviews slamming poor standards of hygiene, so to avoid being named and shamed, hoteliers should invest in a machine that can provide quality washes for the long-term.
Inefficient laundry processes
Efficiency is another top factor that affects a washing machine purchase decision, according to our research. Some washing machines don’t offer an extensive range of programmes that wash items according to how dirty they are. This means hotel staff are using as much energy and water for once-used bed linen as they would for particularly dirty linen. Mounting up over a long period of time, this leads to a significant amount of wasted energy and water, which has a negative impact on costs and CSR image. That’s why it’s key to look for a commercial machine with a variety of programmes – for more heavily soiled items and also economical options for less soiled items.
When scouring the market for a new commercial washing machine, hoteliers should see how brands and models compare when it comes to water and energy usage. Some machines can thoroughly wash items at as little as 30˚C, which can minimise energy bills considerably. Hoteliers should also look for specific features that add to efficiency, such as a high G-Force in the spin stages of the programmes. This indicates the force of gravity that the machine has – one ‘G’ is one times the force of gravitational pull. The higher the G-Force, the less residual moisture the items will have after being washed, reducing the drying time required and saving energy. A high G-Force will keep energy costs particularly low.
Long periods of downtime
Our survey found that when it comes to operating an OPL, reliability is the top factor. Broken washing machines and tumble dryers will mean the hotel having to outsource laundry. As a result, they have to factor in time travelling to and from the launderette, and wait around for bed linen and towels to be washed and dried if carrying this out themselves. Not only that, they don’t have control of the laundry process and therefore can’t control the care that the items receive and the quality of the wash.
Given that some hotels don’t have the storage facilities for additional bed linen and towels, laundry equipment breaking down will hold up room turnaround and impact on customer service. That’s why it’s vital to buy from a brand or retailer that promises service call-outs within 24-48 hours whenever a repair is needed. Their first time fix rate is another vital piece of information; if the laundry equipment supplier has a good record of repairing products straight away then hoteliers can rest assured that breakdowns will cause minimal disruption.
An OPL doesn’t just serve as a practical purpose for a hotel; it’s an asset that adds to a positive overall experience for guests. It only takes a few poor decisions about an OPL facility for it not to deliver high standards of hygiene. That’s why hoteliers should consider all the factors that will make it a success to meet guests’ high expectations.