A new year with Caractère: Disposable solutions for ‘Back to School’

This time of year coincides with several changes. The long and sunny days start to lose their spark, not to mention length. People move around in droves, beginning new jobs and seeking new titles. The produce available changes, just as the coulors of the leaves on trees. For students and teachers, another year starts to take shape, along with its inherent excitement and anxiety. How can school administrators and education policy makers ensure a safe, easy and comfortable return to the classroom? Let’s explore the opportunities to improve your institution over years past with Caractère’s wide range of disposable products for schools and day care centers!

Naptime hygiene
Does your establishment encourage kids to take nap? A vital moment of rest during a child’s formative years, naps help the child to recharge and reboot. Pediatricians explain the need for naps as a result of the process of growth and development, a highly energy-demanding experience for children. Experts agree that as long as one imposes limits and sticks to a regimen, naps will not interfere with the child’s ability to attain a normal night of sleep.

While most teachers believe in the necessity of naps, the problems of modern life can make this normally simple concept more complicated than necessary. Naptime hygiene, in particular, proves a constant problem for daycare centers and schools. How do some institutions prevent the spread of lice, fleas, chicken pox and other diseases and pests; problems that perennially plague others? How can the school’s administration provide a comfortable solution for children often required to sleep on the floor? How can ease of use, affordability and cleanliness intersect?

To answer these questions, Caractère proudly presents disposable sleeping bags! The bags come in sets of 10 units that measure 2 m (6½ feet) long and 1m (3¼ feet) wide each. Imagine trying to travel or go camping with a group of children and having to organise logistics. Among the prime concerns of food and shelter would be the decision of where to sleep. Clearly, there now exists a quick and simple solution. Custom-designed from a resistant, non-woven fabric, these lightweight sleeping bags can be used as liners inside more traditional insulated sleeping bags, on top of nap mats or thick carpeting, or with blankets and other traditional bedding materials.

Large enough for adults yet cozy enough for children, Caractère designed the sleeping bag liner with every need in mind. In the unfortunate event of a natural disaster, they can provide ease of mind in relief centres and airports. Ever versatile, homeless shelters and other group housing establishments could use them to avoid the spread of infections. Zipper-free, there’s no danger of snagging or hurting yourself, or feeling a cold shock from metal touching the skin. Individually-wrapper packaging ensures a hygienic distribution to each and every user. Finally, created with the environment in mind, the liners can then be thrown away or recycled. To learn more, see the Sleeping Bags page on Disposable Linen’s website.

For the youngest among those at daycare, Caractère also created a baby-friendly version of the sleeping bag. Ideally for children of two to 18 months old, the bags are available in sets of 6 units. A wonderful, innovative and popular product not only for day cares, but also for parents on the go who want the best quality sleeping arrangement for their children. Available in 6 colours, you can choose one to match your mood. This solution ends your worries about cleaning, ironing and looking out for baby sheets!

Both the adult and baby sleeping bags’ lifespans range anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on the user’s cleanliness and preferences. In terms of safety, the baby-sized version closes thanks to a Velcro seal sewn on shoulders, instead of the buttons used by other products that pose a choking hazard. A zip fastener on the side prevents injuries to the baby’s neck. Adjustable in size thanks to shoulder straps, the sleeping bag also offers room for a personal touch with the choice of six colours: Blue, Light Blue, Golden Yellow, Light Yellow, Salmon and Light Green. Please see the Disposable Linen website for more information about our comfy Baby Sleeping Bags.

Library and media room cleanliness
Does your school integrate multi-media presentations or activities into its lessons? Research shows that switching from the typical, top-down hierarchy of lectures to a more inclusive and varied set of media sources encourages the development of a child’s mind. In addition, it helps provide a moment of discovery for the children, who feel they have a choice over what information they access and for how long. Why not take advantage of advances in technology to accelerate learning and give your kids a more accurate view of the world?

Unfortunately, the realities of lice and ticks often put a damper on multi-media aspirations. A pesky issue, these critters can dig deep down in the padded foam that lines earphones and headsets, ready to strike at any moment. Once infected, a child can spread lice to an entire class in a matter of days. After a tick attaches itself, it can spread lyme disease and stay on the child’s skin for extended periods of time, undiscovered, sucking blood as long as it desires.

Fortunately, Caractère’s disposable headphone covers present a perfect solution! Totally hygienic, this is the only way to avoid infections because each user puts on a different set each time. Avoid the lice, ticks, flu viruses and mega-resistant bacteria with sanitary equipment for each user. Luxury gyms and fitness centres already provide their clients with these headphone covers to allow users to listen to music or watch television while they enjoy their favourite exercise activities. This after they found it too costly to give a new pair of headphones to each guest, not to mention the environmental waste that would entail!

Easy to wear and comfortably breathable, the earphone covers feel almost undetectable when worn. Caractère now offers six different sizes of headphone covers, designed and tailored for devices between 1 and 7 inches (3 to 12 cm) in diameter. They also fit the ear pieces of conventional telephones and function as an ideal cover for cellular and mobile headsets, such as CN® ou jaffa®. Fitting snugly, they guarantee your listening comfort while providing the safety desired by parents and health inspectors by showing your respect for hygiene. Individually wrapped and sealed for sanitary conditions, they come in sets of pairs for simple distribution. Each package contains 100 pairs (200 individual covers), in an easy-open box that doubles as a dispenser for the covers.

Video: How to measure the size of your disposable headphone covers

For the style-conscious, Caractere manufacturers them in both black and white versions. Check our website for more information and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Our staff is standing by to ensure your transition into this new school year goes as smoothly as possible. Finally, we want to wish the best of luck to the teachers and students out there!

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AirBnB in the UK: Trend or Necessity for BnB Owners?

Logo of Airbnb

Airbnb’s logo


 

Originally a relatively small website created to connect hosts and travellers, Airbnb expanded at an astronomical pace over the past few years. Today, the site offers its services to more than three million people per year around the globe. Some consider the growth a result of the injection of more than $120 million in venture capital a few years ago. Others consider it a product of word of mouth advertising among satisfied users. Either way, the spike in popularity means property owners have added an abundance of new listings, which now total more than 300,000 options in 192 countries. Despite recent  reporting of scandals (discussed below), Airbnb opens a world of opportunity for inn and Bed and Breakfast owners who want more exposure and clients.

A shining example of a new movement termed the “sharing economy,” AirBnb provides a direct link between the guest and the host without the need to go through an intermediary. Of course, the site takes a small commission on each transaction, a fee added in to the booking price. Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia spoke as a headliner of this year’s LeWeb conference in London, which focused on the sharing economy as its theme. In his own words, “the story of Airbnb is really the underdog story.” It all started when he and his flatmates decided to rent out airbeds in their living room (hence the origin of the name) to business travellers who had come to San Francisco to attend conferences. From its humble beginnings, Gebbia says he “wanted to create an experience for our guests: more than just a place to sleep. We wanted to cook breakfast in the morning, we wanted to provide a subway map for our guests, pick them up from the airport…”

In effect, the roommates formed an improvised Bed and Breakfast in their own apartment. Surprisingly, Gebbia and his other co-founder Brian Chesky managed to rake in $1,000 rather quickly. A third co-founder, Nathan Blecharczyk, joined the team and helped create the first proper website for the service, originally known as Airbedandbreakfast. To gain better name recognition, the group chose to shorten their name to Airbnb in 2009.

Worth a look: This Airbnb infographic “10 Million Guest Nights Booked” by Kelli Anderson

Once on the road to success, it was only a matter of time until Airbnb ascended the ranks of travel websites. Gebbia revealed some of the keys to his business advancing in this difficult economy: hire staff in the other countries, expand the community of hosts and plan meetups for users. For example, the site announced one such occasion in London the day before the LeWeb conference. Gebbia explained, “Entrepreneurship is about connecting two dots in a new and different way… My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs out there is to marry the problem. Find a problem that you’re so close to that you can empathise with it in a way that others can’t… You can see it so closely, that it gives you that ability to connect the two dots together” (1).

According to Dennis Jones, the CEO of the mobile phone and card transaction specialist Judo Payments, one cannot deny the role of mobile phones in people’s daily lives today. The shift from shopping in retail stores to internet-based vendors, and also from using computers to mobile phones and tablets, also coincides with a revolution in the hospitality industry. As far as parallels, Jones identifies companies like Airbnb, “driven by the sharing economy… are cutting into hotels, car sharing services, even plane sharing services” (2).

Now, a word of warning. Some bad always seems to accompany the good, right? With every decision comes the consequences. While registering for the site of course increases visibility, this practice can also incite the wrath of legal experts, especially in regions where one must license or register rooms for rent. Perhaps the most well-known episode of this sort of drama occurred this spring, when a prosecutor in the Big Apple brought apartment owner Nigel Warren before a judge for conducting unlicensed short-term room rentals. To defend their user (and in another sense, the site’s platform as a whole), Airbnb provided its own lawyers to help Warren out. Unfortunately, they lost the case, and the judge ordered the defendant to pay some $2,400 (£1,600) in fines (3).

Gebbia retorts to critiques about the site’s ambiguous legal status, “When the car was introduced in 1908, people could experience a brand new way to travel that was more efficient than a horse and buggy. Can you believe that cities tried to outlaw cars in the United States? Can you imagine driving a car for a year then having to go back to a horse and buggy? The policy-makers adjusted to meet the demands of the people. We believe it’s time for our invention, and it appears the world agrees” (1).

Founders of Airbnb

Airbnb’s founders

After the news broke of Warren’s plight, similar efforts arose in Amsterdam and Quebec to limit Airbnb’s ability to conduct business. Montreal hotel industry officials estimate that sites like Airbnb cause traditional accommodations to lose a massive amount of revenue through the diversion of reservations to property owners. Daniel Weinstock, Professor of Ethics at McGill University, brings up the memory of Napster, one of the earliest sites to pioneer sharing music online. Although authorities shut down Napster a decade ago, ultimately they made their efforts in vain, as music downloads (legal and otherwise) have never been more popular (4).

To respond to concerns about whether Airbnb’s growth necessarily means bad news for the traditional hotel industry, Gebbia stuck by the potential of his website for all sorts of rental locations, from small to large format. He continued with an illustration of this concept: “If you have a pie-chart of all the available combinations in a city, it’s not like we’re taking a slice out of the pie. We’re taking the pie and making it bigger” (1). Debatable? Perhaps, but as the age-old phrase says, “if you can’t beat them, join them!”

In fact, when one thinks about it, professional guesthouses and Bed and Breakfasts on AirBnb can take advantage of the best of both worlds. They can access the site’s click traffic without having to worry about the potential for legal concerns because they’ve already registered their properties. Plus, with an established reputation, these owners will rise above the rest when it comes to quality ratings on the site. At the very least, from the perspective of the traveller,  professional offerings usually guarantee privacy and cleanliness. Anyone who backpacked around Europe as a youth and stayed in hostels knows that these details count among the most important aspects of a comfortable night’s sleep, something shared rentals popular on Airbnb can’t always offer.

Finally, the company made great strides in its attempts to reassure users on both sides of the transactions. For example, they created a 24-hour crisis management hotline, added section of safety tips to the website, and “a link to contact the CEO.” In August, 2011, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote in a blog post that the site’s “trust and safety center has ‘tips’ for choosing guests and putting up the right postings.” The company also claims a $1 million (£600,000) “host guarantee,” a form of insurance to cover property damage and theft.

Airbnb homepage

The homepage of Airbnb’s website

So, should you list your property on Airbnb or not? Peter Tompkins, who started subletting his London flat one year ago, felt that overall it has proven a positive experience. The worst case scenario in his words happens when “a book goes missing or some cutlery goes out on a picnic and doesn’t return.” On the flip side, he states, “I have not yet had a visitor I actually disliked. And they are gone after a few days – unlike a flat sharer” (5). After a few simple clicks of the mouse, your property can join the online rental frenzy that has become Airbnb. With some luck and internet-savvy skills, soon the online traffic will translate into foot traffic for your business.

Whether you decide to list your guesthouses or bed and breakfasts on Airbnb or otherwise, don’t forget to check out Caractère’s lines of disposable towels, linens, bathrobes, spa wear and much, much more on our site specialized to cater to customers in the UK, Disposable Linen!

1. Dredge, Stuart. “Airbnb co-founder: ‘We believe it’s time for our invention, and it appears the world agrees.'” The Guardian, June 5, 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2013/jun/05/airbnb-leweb-london-joe-gebbia

2. Zainzinger, Vanessa. “Three thought-leaders on thinking big with mobile.” RealBusiness, May 28, 2013. http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/20058-three-thought-leaders-on-thinking-big-with-mobile

3. Stevenson, David. “City Insider: Growth – it’s back and it’s online.” Travel Weekly, June 06, 2013. http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2013/06/06/44288/city+insider+growth+-+its+back+and+its+online.html

4. “Airbnb : une concurrence déloyale?” Radio Canada, June 4, 2013. http://www.radio-canada.ca/emissions/medium_large/2012-2013/chronique.asp?idChronique=296110

5. Heyden, Tom. “Airbnb battles: Would you stay with strangers?” BBC News Magazine, February 6, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21339891