4 ‘fun’ facts to underline the importance of the laundry room
How important is a laundry room? What challenges and opportunities does it present? In this blog I would first like to state some ‘fun’ facts. These underline the importance of the laundry room in international student housing or Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA).
1. The most shared facility today. 90% of the international European student accommodations or PBSA possess a laundry room. This is the highest percentage of all shared facilities / amenities which were researched.
2. Most frequently used shared facility. During a seminar I asked an architect what the importance was of the laundry room. She answered: the laundry room is super important as it is the most used common area. A fact, not only an architect should use to its advantage designing a new accommodation, but also super important if you run the daily operations.
3. The most hidden shared facility. Certainly not every laundry room is hidden. But after looking at many pictures, laundry rooms tend to be located in the basement of a building. Not quite the most prominent place.
4. Funniest room of the building. Another conclusion drawn after some research at Google Images. On the walls of many laundry room some great quotes and insights have been written. I bet that in a competition for the funniest room in a shared living space, the laundry room could win.
The challenges a laundry room could have
Except for keeping the laundry room clean as an operator, investing in and operating a laundry room does present challenges, like:
- High investment costs for the co-living developer and investors for buying and maintaining a laundry room themselves (eg. laundry equipment).
- When the laundry room is located in the basement of the building it may be difficult to connect the reservation and payment system to the internet.
- When the laundry machines are not yet equipped with a mobile app solution, the administration of coins and replacing key cards will be burdensome.
- Increasing energy costs might be hard to recover.
- Tenants might not be happy with the laundry room, they might complain about this on the internet or in a Google review.
4 opportunities a laundry room can offer for operators and international student housing providers.
Next to challenges, the laundry room does offer operators opportunities such as:
1. New business models for operators.
As suggested by some, a revenue-split arrangement with an equipment supplier, is a good option. In the commentators opinion: ‘the constant revenue stream from this is small but fruitful and the best part is that the external company [ read: the equipment supplier] takes charge and fully manages/maintains the laundry equipment’.
2. More sustainable impact with pay-per use & smart technology.
Included in the rent, limited ‘free’ washes during your stay or vouchers; all kind of offers are made by operators to cover operation costs. However, as shown in the case of Homie, pay-per-use can drive sustainable consumption and therefore create positive environmental impact. Further hints of evidence can be found from other studies. Firstly, 80% of the UK students would like to have more smart technology in their accommodations. Secondly, an even bigger percentage (82%) of the students would use less water and energy if they could measure what they were using real time. Pay-per-use helps create awareness.
3. Connecting the community with “in the moment” meetings.
A recent market investigation by Michael Steinman, showed that the biggest challenges for tenants are:
- A good start/onboarding is critical for a positive experience
- Residents love to meet in the moment rather than through top-down events
- Loneliness has increased during Covid, due to less personal interactions.
The laundry room, as most used shared space, can offer a great contribution to creating a community in natural way. Incidental meetings, not forced top-down, but encouraged by locating the laundry room well, can really help increase personal interactions and henceforth health and well-being.
4. Allowing neighbours an extra service?
Another idea, which has not been tested yet, but might proof relevant, is allowing neighbours, especially in big cities, to make use of the laundry room. Again, (new cloud) technology could enable this. According to some market researchers, the global market for coin-operated laundry is still growing. Still, in some West-European countries, self-service laundries are in decline, even though the number of single person households increases. If located well and equipped with the right technology, the laundry room does not only have a good impact on the environment or community, but also on the society as a whole.