What happens to the soap after a guest checks out of their hotel? This question posed by frequent business traveler, Shawn Seipler, inspired a green movement. He embraced the opportunity to turn one man’s trash into another’s life-saving treasure.
Clean the World is the result of that vision. It’s mission: “recycling soap to save lives.”
Concepta became a partner in that mission by providing a new automated system for interaction with their hotel partners. This automation means Clean the World can now bring on thousands more hospitality partners and improve customer service at the same time.
Clean the World has paved the way for another unique movement. In 2014, they became Florida’s first Benefits Corporation (B-Corp). A social enterprise with a charitable mission and an environmentally-conscious corporate ethos. Where many non-profits struggle with donation-based funding, this business model ensures stable funding to all their charitable programs. And business is thriving.
Complex social and environmental climates leave no shortage of need for Clean the World’s services. For a decade, the organization has provided bars of soap to the communities of developing nations. This has resulted in a 60% reduction of the death rate of children under the age of five due to hygiene-related illnesses. In addition, Clean the World’s foundation provides hygiene supplies for emergency response. When disaster strikes, whether home or abroad, victims are recipients of their hygiene kits.
Clean the World funds their mission through their hospitality partners, who pay to have hygiene products collected and recycled, and thousands of generous donors and corporations that support Clean the World’s programs. By partnering with Clean the World, businesses earn a reputation of corporate social responsibility.
Today, over 8,000 hotels participate in Clean the World’s recycling program. Participation results in a reduction of their negative environmental impact and allows them to spotlight their company's humanitarian side. Housekeepers around the world collect hygiene amenities from over 1.1 million hotel rooms daily and contribute to the diversion of over 20 million pounds of hotel waste from landfills. Combined, these efforts ease both an environmental concern and a humanitarian crisis.
It’s more than a philanthropic gesture, of course. Customer experience and hotel reputation are critical brand differentiators for travelers, especially with rates leveled by bargain apps.
“People want to know that their money is going back to a worthy cause,” explains Sandra Beauchamp, CTW’s Vice President of Marketing, Products, & Technology. “They’re starting to choose hotels based on the give-back programs they have.” Clean the World’s data is a major marketing boost for hospitality partners, who can share measurable results to share with their guests.
How It Works
The collection process is simple. The housekeeping teams gather the leftover hygiene items after a guest checks and deposit them into dedicated bins. When the bins fill up, the hotels submit a request for pickup. The bins are then swapped for empty ones and the full bins get shipped back to a Clean the World facility.
Teams of volunteers help sort the collected hygiene products. Clean the World recruits these volunteers from local businesses and organizations that emphasize volunteering as a morale boost and team-building event.
The sorted soap is then ground down, treated with a proven disinfecting process, and reformed into brand new bars. Bottles such as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash get recycled or sent to an Energy from Waste facility.
Volunteers and businesses also support Clean the World by assembling hygiene kits containing soap, shampoo, conditioner, socks, and toothbrush and toothpaste. The kits are distributed with the help of NGOs, both domestically as well as in 127 countries around the world. Hygiene kits find their way to shelters, refugee camps, schools, deployed soldiers and more.
Proof that their methods benefit all stakeholders while contributing to a cleaner environment has won Clean the World international acclaim. This has attracted the interest of many more prospective hospitality partners.
That’s great from a profit standpoint, but with substantial growth came an increased need for a tool that would help with logistics. A manual system for requesting bins, printing shipping labels and viewing impact statements would no longer suffice. They needed a tool that would create a good customer experience while streamlining logistics.
Their previous model required reliance on direct contact. A staffer had to address every request, even for a routine shipping label. This was easy to do when Clean the World was small, but as they grew it became progressively unmanageable.
Over time, the hassle experienced by hotel partners could have translated into less frequent impact updates. Room attendants, unable to see the results of their efforts, could have stopped taking the extra step of collecting the toiletries.
That’s dangerous for a program that relies on internal buy-in. If the team isn’t on board and there’s no visible impact to motivate them, the hospitality partner might lose interest in the program altogether.
Clean the World needed a better way to facilitate shipments and demonstrate impact to their growing network of partners.
The Search For The Right Developer
As enthusiastic supporters of technology, Clean the World started looking for a development partner to address the issue instead of considering a more analog solution.
“We went through a very extensive vetting process. We had 15 that we were looking at and we narrowed it down to 8, then compared them across the board,” Beauchamp said of the decision process.
Their requirements were simple but non-negotiable. As a B Corp, Clean the World needed a responsive developer with a clean reputation, someone who wouldn’t damage the brand they’ve worked hard to build. They wanted a partner with a portfolio of similarly high-volume projects that demonstrated quality and flexibility.
Also important was the potential for long-term collaboration. “We didn’t look at this as one project. We have a lot of technologies we want to do going forward, so we want someone we can grow with,” says Rob Keefe, Manager of Products and Business Development at Clean the World.
Based on these requirements, the team settled on fellow Orlando business Concepta. Proximity tipped the balance in Concepta’s favor. Their downtown office gives the team a physical location to meet and talk over issues.
Programming Around Bottlenecks
After identifying the main bottlenecks in Clean the World’s process, Concepta went to work on an ambitious solution. They designed a digital platform that provides hospitality partners real-time, round-the-clock, direct access to Clean the World’s services.
Requesting new bins is now an automated process that generates shipping labels and orders new bins on demand. The need for frequent direct contact has been eliminated. Hotel staff can simply sign in, print labels, and schedule the exact bins they need.
Most exciting is the responsive Impact Portal. Partners can pull up live, site-specific metrics illustrating exactly how much they’ve accomplished. The feature was one of Clean the World’s priorities, says Beauchamp.
“A big part of our service is the impact statements. Hotels want to know their impact: how much waste they’ve diverted, and how many bars of soap have been distributed because of their hard work. We want to show room attendants the results of their efforts, so we can make a huge difference in the lives of the people we serve. Soap really does save lives!”
Results That Shine
The online portal went live December 4, 2018, and the impact has been transformative. Where once 10 people were responsible for adding new partners manually, onboarding is now an efficiently automated process. In one day, Clean the World onboarded over 4,000 hotels - a feat which would have been impossible under the old system.
“It’s a turnkey process,” Beauchamp explains. “They get started faster, they can send their soap in faster, and we can process and get it out faster.”
She adds that the impact statements are a huge success with hospitality partners. “It’s like a competition now. They say, ‘I want to get to 1,000 bars!’ or ‘Let’s do a million by the end of the year!’ Knowing how many bars they’ve shipped, how much waste they’ve diverted, that keeps them invested.”
In a year’s time, Clean the World’s online portal has nearly 20,000 users, with more than 60,000 sessions logged so far. The self-service option has been a big hit. Users are spending a consistent average of 5 minutes on the portal per visit, which surprised the CTW team. “I expected that at first, because we have training videos on there. But we’ve maintained a 5-minute average visit. That’s great! It means people are staying involved and engaged.”
Freed from tedious tasks, Clean the World can focus their efforts on higher quality customer service. “We still get calls, but they’re more technical,” Beauchamp says. “The nice thing is that now it’s quality conversations we’re having with our clients.”
Concepta and Clean the World plan to use the portal to automate even more processes. Today, hospitality partners are able to upgrade their accounts through the portal. For example, some only use the soap recycling program. They’ll are now able to upgrade to bottled amenities right within the app.
There’s also an in-app retail store in the works. The store would offer shirts for crew members, recognition items for top performers, marketing materials, and other products to help hospitality partners make the most of Clean the World’s services.
Beauchamp has also anticipated a need for the dashboard to be customizable on an individual level. Hospitality partners will be able to adjust what they see and arrange things to fit into their unique workflows.
For now, the portal is living up to Clean the World’s high expectations. Beauchamp was enthusiastic about the wider benefits it provides to hospitality partners. “Of course, they can get an answer more quickly, cut down the time to service, but it’s also a chance to see the exciting things Clean the World is doing. They’re able to see their dollars being utilized in a meaningful way. Clean the World partners are able to engage with us better than ever before. Any time there’s a hygiene crisis, we respond, and our partners are a part of that story.”
Founder and CEO Shawn Seipler says, “The development of the portal has been an instrumental component of the onboarding process. Partners can see their real-time impact and Clean the World can allocate more resources to our mission: recycling soap to save lives.”
That’s the real impact of the portal: more resources being diverted from landfills and sent where they’re most needed. It’s a win for Clean the World, a win for the hotels and resorts involved, and a win for the planet.