Coin operated laundries have been an option for accommodation providers for decades, previously associated by guests with less expensive hotels, backpackers or motels.
Now however, the coin operated laundry has risen in favour with four/five star hotels and resorts. But how great an option are these laundries? What are the pros and cons for properties and guests alike?
Having worked both as a sales representative for coin laundry equipment and as an employee within the laundry and hotel industry for 15 years, Jordan Ryan of Laundry Machinery Solutions was able to provide his uniquely objective opinion on this matter. “There are several pros of having a coin operated laundry in a hotel/resort,” Jordan began, “convenience for guests, providing an additional service for guests, possible back up of an OPL laundry in emergencies, additional revenue through both usage and sales.”
Gabrielle Worthington, director of Dependable Laundry Solutions, had similar assertions, “The absolute pros of a coin operated laundry, for the owner, is a passive income that depending on how many units he has will dictate how much money he will make. Another pro is providing a service to the patrons (whether in a motel/hotel situation, common laundry in a multi group dwelling or laundromat situation for surrounding community folk) whereby efficiently both time-wise and economically they can launder their clothes or linens.”
Gabrielle went on to say that, “laundry is not usually on top of the ‘hit list’ of favoured things to do but it can certainly become a chore that is not time or money consuming if the provider has installed the correct machinery both in terms of quality and quantity”.
Jordan later discussed the cons of having a coin operated laundry, “equipment can be damaged from misuse by the guests (like overloading), finding space and a convenience locations, requiring to run additional utility services such as water-power-gas and exhaust ducting and additional area to be maintained by housekeeping, noise and smell from equipment, potential theft issues of guest’s personal clothing, lost revenue if providing an in house dry cleaning and laundry service to guests or lost revenue if receiving a percentage of the dry cleaning from an outsource supplier, external repair technicians needed and not in-house maintenance staff for repairs”.
Gabrielle reiterated, “The only ‘con’ we believe there is a coin laundry situation would be malicious damage or vandalism which can never totally be eradicated. There will always be an element within society that will seize upon opportunities to remove and obtain cash or items illegally. However, educating providers of coin vending machinery on security measures around their premises is paramount as well as promoting a good old-fashioned ‘neighbourhood watch’ atmosphere, which together reduce this con to a minimum in the vast majority of instances”.
Another question accommodation providers find themselves asking when faced with the option of coin laundries, is whether they are convenient for guests and reliable.
First, touching on convenience, Jordan explained, “Convenience for guests should be separated into two sections; those who already use coin operated laundries when travelling and those guests who would consider using a coin laundry or dry cleaning laundry service.”
“Guests who already use coin laundries either because they prefer to look after their own personal items or who try to save on costs, would benefit by an in-house coin laundry as it will take away the inconvenience of trying to find a local coin laundry and having to carry around dirty clothing. Having the laundry located close to their room means they can start a load of washing and return when the cycle has completed and then start the drying cycle and return once again when the items have dried. Guests could all so use the time either staying in there room or within the hotel, either way they could be spending additional money on hotel services.
“Guests who would consider using a coin laundry may find that waiting for their clothes to wash and dry may take time away from doing other activities. A dry cleaning laundry service will collect the clothes from the room and return them cleaned, folded or pressed. A local coin laundry may provide a bag wash service and wash and fold their clothes for them to be picked up later. The added benefit and sell point for customers to use the coin laundry will be in a saving to have items washed and dried and the convenience to do their own laundry at any time of the day. Express laundry services usually charger a 50% -100% surcharge to have items returned out of standard operating hours.”
In terms of reliability, Jordan insists, “A reliable laundry facility would consist of coin operated washing machines in either a top load or front load configuration in capacities ranging from 6kg-9kg. Top load washers are common in the United States and Australia and are extremely reliable due to their simple construction but also use a large amount of water. Front load washers are common in European countries and are extremely energy efficient using half the water of a top load washer and spin at higher speeds reducing drying time. Both commercial coin operated washing machines have a wash program that are reduced in time and take approximately between 25-40mins.
“Dryers manufactured by the same company in the same capacity are usually inefficient and take long amounts of time to dry a load. Dryers need to be matched to the washer and have a capacity approximately 50% larger. This will result in efficient drying at an acceptable cycle time. Manufacturers of dryers have a range of coin operated dryers in a capacity to suit most washers in the market. The dryer required may be a different brand then the washing machine.”
Gabrielle supported this view, claiming that “in a communal situation, coin operated laundries are extremely convenient for patrons as the savvy patron would be looking for a clean venue, with reliable equipment units and space to conveniently load/unload their laundry and attend to washing/drying as quickly as possible in an economical fashion.”
The question remains, however, whether or not coin operated laundries have the potential to increase revenue for accommodation providers. According to Jordan, the answer is yes.
“Revenue can be increased by bringing in customers who would normally look for accommodation with an in house coin laundry or dry cleaning service or a coin laundry within close proximity. All in house services advertising and website listings must refer to this additional service.
“Hotels can offer an additional service of providing a vending service for packets of laundry powder or softener. This would be installed in the laundry area readily available to customers. Revenue can simultaneously be generated from the actual use of the equipment but the real revenue would be gained via attracting additional guests, especially guests for long stays.
“Essentially, having heads on beds is where the money or revenue is made for a hotel or resort – this is the core business – and a coin laundry would add value to the guests stay.”
Gabrielle added that “having machinery which reduces your carbon foot print by being environmentally friendly (eg front load washers) or dryers that have improved heating and venting to provide a quicker drying time, thus using less energy, all add up to opportunities to market your laundry and increase business revenue”.
Maytag Commercial washers and dryers have “a heavy focus on energy consumption and conservation”, according to Jay Bailey of Richard Jay Laundry Equipment, which has proven to offer hotels and resorts “another facility or service for their guests during their stay and can generate a good, steady source of income for the hotel”.
Finally, there are things hotels and resorts need to actively pursue when selecting coin operated equipment. Jordan asserts that providers should, “purchase from a reputable supplier with industry experience; ask for reference sites and contact details; purchase reliable equipment with a history of manufacturing; purchase equipment that has been tried and tested in the Australian accommodation industry; request information on the running costs of the equipment and how eco friendly it is; ensure that the after sales service is excellent for local technical service and spare parts supply; and finally, providers should purchase a product that is priced competitively and has a comparable warranty to other suppliers”.
Other things to look out for and ensure, according to Gabrielle, include ” resorts considering whether a company is listening to their specific needs on a daily basis to achieve a quality outcome with reliable laundry equipment; ensuring their purchase has a very solid backed Warranty and Service / Maintenance schedule which has been discussed and implemented to avoid and reduce any possible machinery downtime; allowing to chosen company to provide personnel training at the resort on using any purchased equipment, to maintain sound practices of the machinery; selecting a company that will ensure Site Inspections and Proposals are drawn, and qualified Trades Technicians are utilized to ensure they make the best decision for their Resort”.
Taking all this into account, it seems the coin operated laundry may well and truly find its way back into your business!