I'm kind of surprised hotels haven't been doing this long before now, but it sounds like a few are starting to use RFID chips to keep track of their linens—and nab towel thieves before they sneak out the door with their ill-gotten goods. One hotel says it's already saving $16,000 a month in pool towel theft reduction.
As someone who tries to keep luggage to carry-on size (and I know from the stuffed state of the overhead bins these days that I'm far from alone) and has no interest in snagging hotel linens, I would think the fee for having to check a bag big enough to stuff a towel in would pretty much cancel out the value of the towel and make them not worth stealing. It sounds like it's still a big, expensive problem, and this could be an easy solution. I am curious how they confront the towel thieves, though. Talk about awkward!