Improving service by outsourcing hotel linen

With the number of visitors to the UK set to continue increasing this year, the demand and pressure on hotels of all sizes is increasing too. Paul Swift, Business Development Manager at Berendsen UK, sheds a light on why the majority of hotels are outsourcing their linen to better cope with the growing number of guests.

The UK is as popular a tourist destination as ever before, with the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and Brighton Pier just a few examples of must-visit tourist hotspots – attracting over 15 million visitors between them last year. While this is terrific news for the hotel sector, it places greater pressure on hoteliers as they attempt to meet the demands and expectations of a rising number of guests.

Although there are many variables that can influence whether a guest deems a hotel experience as positive or negative, one main consideration for hoteliers is linen, which if substandard can directly impact on a guest’s stay. In fact, new research has found that 96 percent of hotel guests would be less likely to return to a hotel if their bed linen and towels are unclean or of a poor quality, with 95 percent stating that they would tell others about their bad experience.

It therefore makes good business sense in both the short and long term to ensure linens meets the expectations of guests. However, achieving this high standard consistently can be a problem for hoteliers, who are also responsible for ensuring that guests are pleased with a number of other important aspects of the hotel during their stay. In-house laundry can be an expensive process, with electricity, water and staff costs to consider as well as investment of both time and money to source and purchase linen.

One of the key reasons why more and more hoteliers are outsourcing linen is because textiles service providers can remove the hassle and pressures of running an in-house laundry facility. Many external suppliers, such as Berendsen, don’t just take away and launder linen supplies, they offer a full rental service with a number of different product categories to match a hotel’s budget and profile.

In the case of Berendsen, the leading provider of textile services to UK hotels, the selecting and hiring of linen is designed to be as easy as possible for customers. Customers choose from a selection of product collections, which are streamlined into Classic, Premium and Superior Collections, whilst Spa, Banqueting, Leisure and Kitchen packages are also available. In the event that a bespoke option is required, Berendsen can meet this need by providing a more individual look or branding to linen. Thanks to online ordering, the process of selecting collections and quantity is also as simple as possible.

Despite the many benefits to outsourcing, some hotels are reluctant to transfer the washing of their linen to an external supplier. With concerns over reliability and quality standards, they prefer instead to operate an in-house facility. However, today’s leading service providers can deliver a level of quality and reliability often unattainable in the hotel laundry room.

Retaining control in-house comes with its own drawbacks. As well as electricity, water, linen purchase and staff costs to consider, there is also the question of what happens if laundry staff are absent from work with illness or if a washing machine or dryer breaks down. In the event of either of these happening then the likelihood is that the output of an in-house laundry facility will be reduced, whereas an external supplier has contingency strategies in place for these situations – meaning there is minimal impact on output and performance.

In addition, there is no guarantee that quality will be improved by continuing to operate laundry facilities in-house. Often, hotels don’t have the manpower required to check the quality of the towel itself or the standard of cleanliness. A textile services provider, on the other hand, has the processes in place to regularly check both quality of finish and cleanliness, with linen that falls foul of its high standards disposed of or replaced where necessary. Bearing in mind the impact that substandard and poor quality linen can have on a guest’s stay and any repeat bookings in the future, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.

External laundry service providers are part of a hotel’s environmental footprint and, as such, many leading suppliers hold environmental responsibility in the highest regard and at the very core of their operations. Berendsen, for example, has significantly reduced its water and energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions since 2008. Thanks to changes in its cleaning process, Berendsen has decreased its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 35,000 tonnes, which is the equivalent to the emissions of 5,000 UK households, and cut water usage by one billion litres per year, which is enough to fill 400 Olympic sized swimming pools.

In terms of set up, outsourcing linen extremely simple: a set service price is agreed, service and quality levels are determined and the service commences. Costs vary with occupancy rather than being fixed and are predictable and simple to budget for. The purchasing and management of the linen stock is handled by the supplier and the majority of the ongoing management can often be completed online.

As the number of visitors to the UK continues to rise and so do guest expectations, there’s now more pressure on hotels than ever before for linen to be of a certain level of quality and cleanliness. By partnering with a textile services provider, hotels can not only better cope with the demands of an increasing number of guests, they can also enhance the quality and cleanliness of their linen and remove the stress associated with operating in-house laundry facilities.

About Berendsen

Berendsen provides innovative industrial textile services to customers in the healthcare, hospitality, industrial, commercial and public sectors. With over 7,000 employees working at 45 sites across the UK, Berendsen is able to provide dynamic, cost effective solutions thanks to its experience and know how in textiles, business operations and logistics. Berendsen has a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and holds the Carbon Trust Standard certificates demonstrating its achievement in reducing both carbon and water usage. The company is part of Berendsen plc, a leading provider of textile services in the UK.

For further information contact:
Berendsen UK Ltd. Intec 3, Intec Business Park, Wade Road, Basingstoke, RG24 8NE


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