July 29, 2011

New Technology Keeps Track Of Hotel Towels

A new technology may persuade hotel guests to keep from putting hotel robes and towels in their suitcases.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been used by various industries for several years to organize product storage and tall shipments.

Hotels are now using the tech to monitor the whereabouts of bathrobes, bed sheets, duvet covers, bathmats, pool towels and banquet linens.

According to estimates by William Serbin of Linen Tracking Technology, about 20 percent of hotels' stock goes missing.
He said a towel with a chip is about a dollar more than other towels.  The bendable and washable tags can be read by sensors up to six feet away.

When towels are removed from a closet, a reader station can register how many until that closet can be restocked.

Jeff Welles of InvoTech, a firm that sells linen chips to hotels, said theft by guests is a factor but not the primary concern.

He said linens often go missing when they are shipped to outside laundries and they are difficult and time-consuming to keep track of.  Hotels can also use the system to ensure their laundry bill is correct.

"When you're sending them in and out, everything gets mixed up," he told USA Today. "There's no way for hotels to know what they sent to launder. It's a tremendous problem."

Tim Harvie, CEO of Fluensee, said the tracking system also enables an accurate count of towels and linens stored in the closet on each floor.

Scott Mitchell, director of room product development for Marriott International, said the tagging is too expensive for now to be widely embraced by the industry.


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