Putting a Stop to Towel Thieves

Thinking about stealing that hotel towel? Not so fast, my friend.

It’s common knowledge that hotel towels are better than the ones you have at home. Because of this textile superiority, many hotel guests help themselves to one or two during their stay. Harmless little act, right? The hotel will never know.


Towel bandits beware: Hotels and gyms have been getting wise and are using radio-frequency identification to automatically track towels in an effort to stop this type of shrink. That’s right… towels are now being serialized with small, washable RFID tags. At the pool or fitness center, companies are using vending machine-style dispensers to dole the towels out once guests swipe an ID card, and scan the tags once the towels have been returned.

This technology can help hotels and gyms save a lot of money by reducing theft and laundry costs. Turns out guests get a little more careful about towel usage when they know they’re being tracked, resulting in fewer towels borrowed (and subsequently washed).

Is there “towel data”? Of course there is. There are all kinds of analytics to track towel inventory, towel usage by room, etc. Creepy? Well… yes. But I would probably implement this if I owned a hotel chain.

There are, of course, different ways that hotels and gyms can manage situations in which a towel ends up in a customer’s luggage… whether they charge the card on file or make an embarrassing scene at checkout is up to them.


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