Outsourcing Increases Sustainability Through Volume Production

By Joseph Ricci President & CEO, TRSA | May 07, 2017

Economics and sustainability are inextricably linked and their bond is growing tighter. It's long been true that the fewer natural resources you deplete, the less it costs you. Because large commercial laundries use mass-production technologies that conserve supplies and labor, hotels save significantly by outsourcing instead of operating on-premises laundries (OPLs). It's better for the environment and a hotel's bottom line.

This economic benefit will get even better in coming years. Water and electricity aren't getting any cheaper. While scarcity creates economic pressure where not enough supply is available to meet high demand, even conservation can raise costs. Our TRSA members (outsourced laundries) and other industrial users of sewer systems have experienced this with local publicly owned treatment works (POTWs).

High-volume wastewater dischargers are large water users so they are focused on reducing consumption. In using less fresh water, their sewage discharges are less diluted (i.e., more concentrated), which creates economic challenges for POTWs:

  • Less revenue, as they bill dischargers based on gallons discharged to them
  • Higher infrastructure expense for technology to treat more concentrated wastestreams

Michigan State University forecasts a 41 percent increase in the cost of water over the next five years. The price of natural gas rose 72 percent in the six months between April and October 2016 and is anticipated to rise another 4 percent by 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Administration, with electricity prices on the same growth path.

A hotel will shoulder these burdens on its own for linen processing unless it outsources this function. Linen, uniform and facility services are far more capable of absorbing such price increases. Since the late 1990s, TRSA members have reduced gallons of water needed per pound of laundry 33 percent on average. Some have been able to do 40 to 50 percent better than that. Average energy consumption per pound has fallen 27 percent in that time and some TRSA members have done 30 to 40 percent better than that.

Hotels can be assured of achieving such significant environmental gains in linen processing by contracting with a TRSA-certified Clean Green laundry. To receive this designation, a laundry's water and energy conservation success must be gauged. The certification aligns with the ASTM International standard, "Guide for Sustainable Laundry Practices," which recognizes Clean Green's key criteria as universal indicators of maximum sustainability in commercial laundry work.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.