When Dominic Longo first started working in the hotel industry, housekeeping carts were large, metal and heavy, not perfect for use in cramped hotel hallways. Over the years, according to the corporate director of rooms for Red Lion Hotels Corp. (RLHC), carts have grown smaller and lighter for the sake of safety.
“The old metal carts used to weigh a ton, even with nothing on them,” Longo said. “Now there are more amenities in the guestroom than ever before, so carts have to be lighter. Smaller hotels, though, don’t need to use a large cart.”
Longo is referring to the industry’s newest housekeeping trend: smaller luggage-like carts that are more maneuverable and practical compared to their bigger brethren. Rubbermaid produces one such cart, the Quick Cart, which has a lower weight allowance in exchange for a more discreet operating process.
Overloaded carts are a safety hazard for housekeeping workers who push them all day, and can also obstruct hallways. Hotels can get away with using a smaller cart if linens are bagged and left outside a guestroom for later pickup, while cleaning tools and amenities are stocked inside the cart.
Jeff Amerin, director of brand management at Rubbermaid, said that ergonomics is the greatest concern when designing carts due to the exertion needed to transport them from room to room. “The overall weight of large carts can come out to hundreds of pounds once they are fully loaded,” Amerin said. “If the unit is smaller, you simply can’t add as much to it. This helps with transportation, but always be sure your staff is pushing the carts and not pulling them.”
According to Mark Sheley, director of marketing at hospitality and F&B manufacturer Forbes Industries, building smaller carts is the only reliable way to reduce the weight housekeepers have to contend with. Large carts can also cause damage to walls or present dangers to guests if blocking a hall.
“No matter the size of the cart we produce, hotels overload them,” Sheley said. “This creates a vicious cycle of workmans’ comp injuries, so the best answer is to switch to a smaller cart. Housekeeping has been done one way and only one way for a long time. It’s time to re-evaluate.”