Cleaning trolleys in the spotlight

10th of January 2024
Cleaning trolleys in the spotlight
Cleaning trolleys in the spotlight

A recent news story concerning US superstar Taylor Swift plunged cleaning trolleys unexpectedly into the spotlight. But manufacturers had already been quietly raising the profile of this sector and coming up with smart new designs and aesthetically-pleasing products. Are we entering a new era of glam trolleys, asks Ann Laffeaty?

CLEANING TROLLEYS hit the headlines when singer/songwriter Taylor Swift apparently recently used one to gain entry into a music arena. Fans attending the superstar’s concerts had long been frustrated by the fact no-one had ever seen her enter or leave a stadium. But the mystery appeared to have been solved when a video appeared on TikTok following a Taylor Swift music tour.

The footage showed two men wheeling a cleaning trolley equipped with mops, brooms and dustpans through the backstage area of the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. And when the cleaning cart came to a stop, a blonde woman dressed in a sparkling outfit emerged and dashed inside the stadium.

Whether this was Taylor Swift making her entrance or not remains unconfirmed by the singer’s PR team. But the story lit up the internet and lent glamour to the trolley category.

However, trolleys had already been gaining a higher profile even before this event took place. The ugly, utilitarian carts that were once simply a means of transporting cleaning equipment from A to B have generally been given a makeover over recent years as daytime cleaning becomes more of a trend.

And as a result, today’s cleaning trolleys are no longer expected to blend into the background, says Greenspeed’s marketing executive Rosaliene Verhoef. “Cleaning used to take place discreetly after working hours but there is a growing emphasis on hygiene post-Covid,” she said. “This means cleaning is now performed during the day for all to see, and trolleys have evolved to become more than just functional tools.”

Today’s trolleys are designed to be more visually appealing than in the past, she says. “They are now used in front of clients, employees and visitors which makes their aesthetics more important,” said Verhoef.

Companies are increasingly using trolleys to convey messages, strengthen a company’s brand and advertise their services as well, she adds. “They can also be used to display logos, slogans and even QR codes to provide easy access to websites and promotional materials,” she said. “This approach helps companies to engage with customers and employees while also building brand recognition. And they make the organisations using them appear more professional.”

The look of a trolley can quickly be improved with the aid of sleek designs, colours, customised pictures and logos, she says. “It is all about creating a trolley that not only functions efficiently, but that also leaves a lasting visual impact,” said Verhoef. “And an attractive trolley is more enjoyable to use than a less visually appealing one.

Practical priorities

“However most customers still rightly prioritise practical factors such as cost, ergonomics and convenience - particularly when working within a budget or to specific functionality requirements. And in our opinion, attractiveness should never come at the cost of convenience because a successful trolley design needs to provide a balance between aesthetics, ergonomics, sustainability and functionality.”

Closer attention is definitely being paid to trolley designs in general these days according to TTS Cleaning’s export sales manager Alessandro Costantini. “The Covid-19 pandemic has led to many of us looking for signs that the environment around us is clean,” he said. “And this means trolleys have become more visible and more appealing to look at. Their colours and designs are being chosen to make them appear more stylish - after all, a good design will help to create a high quality brand for the cleaning service.”

Trolleys can play a key role in conveying a professional image to customers, he said. “When the panels have been customised with images and messages the trolley becomes an effective means of communication – one that also helps to promote the cleaning company along with the facility in which it operates,” he said.

“In fact we frequently receive bespoke requests for our Magic trolleys which can be customised with a customer’s chosen logo or image.”

Aesthetics are important for customers when choosing a trolley, he says. “However ergonomics have also become increasingly important because a lightweight, user-friendly trolley will reduce the risk of occupational injuries and related costs,” he said.

Trolleys are central to any cleaning service, according to Filmop’s business development manager Paolo Scapinello.  “They are an indispensable tool that supports all operations required to ensure clean and healthy environments,” he said.

“Over recent years their image has often been associated with hygiene and the protection of people’s health, increasing the users’ perception of safety. Therefore their presence is no longer confined to the background and they provide the perfect opportunity to highlight a cleaning service that takes care of the environment and of the health of the people within it.”

Trolleys are constantly evolving to meet new requirements and needs without sacrificing aesthetics, he says. “Customisable graphics are certainly an additional plus, allowing a trolley to become a powerful advertising vehicle or an element integrated into its environment,” he said.

“Trolleys can also become an effective advertising medium and an excellent communication tool, which is why requests for impact graphics have become increasingly frequent.”

Filmop’s Alpha trolleys offer unlimited customisation possibilities and can be used to incorporate images, graphics, drawings and logos, according to Scapinello. “However, aesthetics must always go hand in hand with functionality,” he adds.

Export area manager of IPC by Tennant Company Stefania Bin agrees with other commentators that today’s cleaning trolleys are no longer expected to blend into the background.

More visible

“Cleaning now needs to be carried out continuously to maintain a hygienic environment, particularly in busy places such as airports,” she said. “So the aesthetics of a trolley play an important role and can be a great way for manufacturers to be recognised in our competitive market. Trolleys are no longer items that need to be hidden away from public eyes.”

The pandemic helped to raise awareness of the importance of cleaning, she says. “The daily cleaning of public places remains at the heart of a society that respects its neighbours and the environment,” she said. “So deploying aesthetically-pleasing tools in public environments helps to make cleaning less intrusive.”

Today’s cleaning trolleys can also be used to advertise and communicate when working in public spaces, Bin adds. “For example, we can customise the doors of our Brix trolleys with any communication.”

Kärcher’s product management manual tools Beyza Gügercin agrees Covid has had a dramatic impact on our lives and our habits. “Cleaning is now perceived as a must, while trolleys have become an important means for operators to perform their tasks with increased frequency and to higher standards,” she said.

“Cleaning operators used to be expected to hide their equipment but now cleaning has become more visible and people want to see it being carried out. This means aesthetics are increasingly important.”

According to Gügercin, large trolleys are frequently being used to deliver advertising messages in shopping centres while coloured cartoon stickers are being used to brighten up the trolleys used in children’s hospital wards.

“Cleaning means safety, and its visibility is appreciated,” she said. “And at Kärcher we are adapting our offer to meet this market demand.” The company’s Flexomate trolleys – which have received two design awards – feature large doors and flat surfaces where customers can display their messaging.

Factors such as compactness, ergonomics and a hygienic construction are all still more important in a trolley than aesthetics, she adds. “But if you can incorporate these attributes and make it look attractive as well, you can take a trolley to a whole new level,” she said.

“It should be a helpful tool rather than a cumbersome one that becomes a burden for the cleaner. So it should be adapted to the operator’s natural body posture in order to reduce health issues.”
So the profile of trolleys definitely appears to be on the rise. But how far did the story of Taylor Swift riding in one help to glamourise the trolley sector?

Greenspeed’s marketing executive Rosaliene Verhoef says she appreciated the media buzz around the event. “Cleaning is not usually associated with entertainment and is rarely covered in mainstream media, so this story was a fun anecdote that helped to draw attention to the industry sector,” she said.

Moment in the spotlight

“I may not be a ‘Swiftie’, but given our focus on trolleys it was an entertaining story to follow. Who knew that trolleys would have their moment in the celebrity spotlight?”

As a fan of the singer, Kärcher’s Beyza Gügercin said she followed the story. “Though I’m surprised she could fit into a trolley since she is quite tall,” she adds.  “And trolleys are not designed to carry people which means concealing oneself in a trolley should be discouraged since it could be dangerous for various reasons.

“But since our own Flexomate trolleys are larger than most on the market, I feel she would probably have felt more comfortable in one of ours!”

IPC by Tennant Company’s Stefania Bin claims the singer brilliantly transformed a typically unglamorous product into a glamorous one by showcasing its potential.

“However, there are definitely more suitable manual modes of transport for concealing a person,” she adds. “And it’s a shame it wasn’t an IPC cleaning trolley. Hey Taylor - next time, give us a call if you’re in need of a designer and glamorous trolley to conceal yourself in!”


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