Prevent Loss of Hotel Towels, Prevent Loss of Money

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Plush bathrobes aren’t the only item some hotel guests take as souvenirs from their travels. At beachfront properties and resort destinations, pool towels are among the most frequently pilfered items, generating significant losses for hoteliers who have to constantly purchase replacements.

Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, technology has been around for years and its application is versatile, from tracking assets that are often lost or stolen to using it as a convenient way to pay for products and services—the opportunities are endless for hospitality companies. With this RFID technology gaining traction, guests may think twice before leaving a hotel with a fluffy towel in tow.

Don’t resign yourself to the belief that towel thefts are a necessary cost of doing business just yet. Steven Molewyk, founder and COO of Towel Tracker based here, has created a towel management solution using RFID technology that may help hoteliers reduce costs, better allocate labor hours and keep the pool area tidy.

“It’s a big problem. Hotels are losing thousands of dollars a month as a result of towel losses and they live with that frustration. Towel Tracker helps to eliminate the problem and reduces laundry costs as well,” Molewyk said. “When hotels heard about us, they were surprised anyone was addressing it because for so long, it’s been a standard issue in the industry that was built into their budgets.”

When a hotel knows its towels are going to be returned, they can feel confident about making a significant investment in the quality of the product to further enhance the guest experience.

“Using Towel Tracker, 99% of towels are getting returned now and it’s a huge boost for the hotel. Now they can offer a larger, upgraded towel because it’s going to stick around,” he said.

So how does it work? Guests scan or swipe their room card through a card reader on the front of Towel Tracker’s kiosk, then they open the door and take the towels they need. Keeping hotel guests honest is easy—there’s an RFID chip embedded in each towel and the remaining towels inside the kiosk are tallied using the same technology to keep track of inventory.

Towel Tracker is currently in use at DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL; The Cove at Yarmouth in Cape Cod, MA; and Island Vista Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC, according to Molewyk.

Through effective towel management, hotels can find ways to better allocate staff, as the Towel Tracker doesn’t require a towel attendant.

“Many hotels and resorts will manually check out towels or have some kind of exchange system. Towel Tracker is truly a guest-facing technology and enables guests to walk up to the machine, swipe a card and take as many towels as they need. Staff members receive text alerts or email alerts when the clean side is running low or the return side is getting full, so they know when to add more towels or remove the dirty ones. It’s completely automated,” he said.

Getting set up with a Towel Tracker kiosk starts with a few questions, which allow Molewyk to analyze what a hotel is currently spending and determine how much it costs to purchase and launder towels. He then presents the findings in a proposal to the client.

“There are different variables that can impact the price. We work with the customer to determine the cost. All of our customers say our projections are right on. We also do a subscription model and have an in-house leasing company to streamline the purchasing process. You’re dealing with us, it’s all under one roof and helpful for our customers as well. It’s as simple as possible,” he concluded. 

—Corris Little