During major emergencies, communities rely on the hospitality industry for housing and shelter, and the industry, in turn, relies on hotel laundry operations.
Hotels operating an on-property laundry, or OPL, may not fully appreciate the importance of their laundry capabilities until it’s too late and they’re left unable to effectively accommodate guests, evacuees, emergency workers and first responders during a disaster.
These best practices for hotel laundry emergency preparedness are a good start to making sure you’re ready to offer a safe haven when it’s needed most.
Identify Internal and External Threats That Are Specific to Your Laundry
Gone are the days when emergency preparedness meant being ready for every single thing that could possibly go wrong. Instead, it’s about identifying the internal and external emergencies you’re most likely to face and prioritizing your mitigation strategies.
You and your team know your property best and are most aware of your facility’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the outside forces that could affect your laundry operation.
Internal threats include commercial laundry equipment failures, hazardous material spills, leaky pipes or even fire. External factors are things like municipal pipe failures or leaks, or severe weather and natural disasters that may cause power outages and flooding.
If your hotel laundry has a commercial washer that is on its last legs or sits on an area of your property that always floods during storms, those are the risks you want to pay the most attention to. After you’ve identified your threats, meet with your property’s emergency preparedness director to make sure to incorporate your laundry into your planning.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you’ve identified your prioritized list of threats and how you’re going to mitigate them, you can add your proposed emergency plan to your drills.
If there are gaps in your emergency preparedness planning, frequent drills give you an opportunity to identify and fill them before an actual emergency strikes. The more comfortable your staff is with your emergency plan, the more confident they’ll be should something happen.
Drills should cover everything from preparation for events such as storms and flooding, to what your plans are for the laundry during the incident to continuity planning for how to keep or get your laundry room back online after the worst is over.
Partner with a Laundry Service with Multiple Locations
In addition to delivering cost and resource savings, outsourcing with the right hotel laundry partner provides built-in backup when an emergency strikes. Choosing a commercial laundry with multiple facilities in different locations ensures that there’s never a single point of failure.
Even during a large-scale emergency when entire regions or areas are affected, a laundry with redundancies in its operations will have the ability to shift customers’ linens from a non-functional site to those that are still up and running.
During Hurricane Irma in 2017, only two of Crown Linen’s five facilities had power, but the company didn’t miss a single laundry delivery and turned everyone’s linens within 24 hours. Planning, collaboration and operational redundancy all helped us stay open.
If you’re considering outsourcing your laundry in the future, or if your property already does, make sure you’re clear on your laundry vendor’s emergency preparedness planning and how they work with customers to ensure continuity.
Whether you outsource or operate an OPL, you may want to consider stockpiling linens that can be used in case of emergency either at your hotel or offsite.
Plan Ahead So You’re Not Left Behind
If you haven’t already, invest the time and energy in establishing a hotel laundry emergency preparedness plan. You owe it to your staff, guests and community to be ready.