Towel Thieves Beware: Hotels Using Chips To Track Linens


I’m not going to say that I’ve ever helped myself to a hotel hand towel, but I’ve heard they could be used to wrap souvenirs when packing. It’s a good thing I’m not this sort of linen thief, as some hotels are using tiny, wash-safe trackers to crack down on guests’ sticky fingers.

The Daily Mail reports that a Miami-based technology company has designed a tracking device for towels that purports to have reduced the rate of missing linens from between 20% and 30% each month.

Nearly 2,000 hotels have signed on to use the technology, which was initially designed to keep an eye on linens as they left the hotels to be cleaned.

William Serbin, executive vice president of the company tells the Daily Mail, that the hotels using the technology like to remain anonymous, so they don’t alarm guests.

Still, he says that while all hotels are different, most properties using the trackers save about $50,000 a year in lost linens.

The microchip trackers allow managers to track each and every towel in real-time using UHF Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID).

The small, flexible chips, which are supposed to last up to 300 washes, send signals to antennae positioned at the hotel’s entrance or exit when they are as far as six feet away.

While the tracker does not tell hoteliers the exact coordinates of a missing towel, robe or sheet, Serbin says that several guests have successfully been asked to return the stolen property.

In addition to keeping track of snatched linens, the trackers can be used by housekeeping staff if they want to find out when a towel was removed from the closet, so it can be restocked.

“Our solution not only provides total inventory information, but provides additional data like dwell time, wash count and laundry reconciliation which assists properties to become more efficient,” Serbin says.

Have YOU swiped a robe from your room? Hotels using tracking devices to keep tabs on linen… and the guests who steal them [The Daily Mail]