Say Goodbye to Daily Hotel Room Cleaning

Stephanie VanDerSchie returned to her hotel room in Wausau, Wis., after a long day of skiing last month with her three young children to find their room filthy.

Their sheets weren’t folded, their trash cans were overflowing, and their soaked towels piled up in a soft pile on the damp bathroom floor.

VanDerSchie, 44, a high school teacher in River Forest, Ill., thinks for the $200 a night she’s paying, she’ll at least get fresh towels and quick daily housekeeping without any hassles. What special requests should be made during her three-night stay?

She was wrong.

“It seems like a money-saving tactic,” Ms. VanDerSchie said. “But certainly the feeling of the holiday is enhanced when someone else takes care of us a little.”

In the early days of the pandemic, daily cleaning of hotel rooms was one of many disruptions. Even those who dared to travel had to turn pale at the thought that a stranger had entered their room. Many hotels only start cleaning after guests check out, even leaving some rooms empty for a day.

Now, with tourism largely recovering, and with occupancy expected to hit 64% this year — just 2% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the report. American Hotel & Lodging AssociationDaily cleaning, like the five-day work week in many people’s offices and printing menus at restaurants, seems to be a thing of the past.

Guests staying at mid-range hotels operated by Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Walt Disney World Resorts, or other major brands find that if they want free daily housekeeping, they need to ask for — or clean your own room.

“Surface cleaning and bed linen changes during shorter stays are quite rare these days,” said Scott Keyes, founder. Walking (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights), a website that provides detailed information on airfare deals. “Typically, it is only offered for longer stays.”

Marriott, which operates 30 hotel brands and more than 8,000 properties in 139 countries and territories, declared the new normal during an investor call in February. It says it is creating a tier system for housekeeping in which people who pay more can expect a higher level of service. Its most upscale hotels (like the Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis brands, where rooms cost up to $550 a night) will continue to offer complimentary daily cleaning. On the next floor (Sheraton, Le Méridien), guests get a free “daily cleaning”. Guests of what it calls “selective service” brands (Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Moxy, among others) will get their rooms cleaned every other day.

At Hilton brands, such as Conrad, DoubleTree, and Embassy Suites, housekeeping schedules vary, but most in the United States now offer opt-in, meaning guests need to contact front desk if desired. Free housekeeping. Kent Landers, a spokeswoman for Hilton, said: “Given that some guests may experience varying degrees of comfort when someone enters their room after they have checked in, Hilton offers them the option to choose choice and control to request the housekeeping service they desire.

Independent hotels seem to be no different. Much has also turned to an opt-in approach as the pandemic has eased to reduce health risks and as a cost-cutting measure, said Benjamin Verot, co-founder of Minder Hotel, a company in Dublin that provides consulting services for most independent hotels.

Cutting down on housekeeping is not new. Over the years, guests at all levels of hotels have come across bathroom notes selling the idea of ​​giving up new towels as a sustainable alternative and suggesting they only leave used towels. Use on the floor if washing is required. Hotels also used to encourage guests to skip the daily housekeeping by offering loyalty points or dining credits.

John Ollila, founder of blog Loyalty Lobbyincluding travel bonuses and a digital nomad who just celebrated 20 years of living off-hotel — most of them belonging to Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Accor (a French hospitality company) — for know there was no housekeeping staff. change in the luxury segment, although they have taken away most of the perks afforded to those who decide to skip it.

“The problem that I have been trying to make over the last few years is, why would you stay at a full service hotel if they take away all the benefits?” Mr. Ollila said.

Marriott, Hyatt and Disney, among other major hotel operators, did not respond when asked why they were modifying their housekeeping policies for guests.

But Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality and tourism expert, and an adjunct professor at New York University Tisch Center for Hospitalitysays there are four main reasons for the drop in service: cost, staffing, environmental impact perception, and guest privacy preferences.

Mr. Hanson said the average cost of providing daily housekeeping includes 30 minutes for the room service staff plus the cost of cleaning supplies and washing sheets and towels. But the savings achieved were less than anticipated because hourly wages were increased as needed to attract and retain employees.

On the other hand, more and more guests don’t want to be disturbed or let the housekeeping staff touch their personal belongings, Mr. Hanson said.

Chekitan Dev, professor at Nolan School of Hotel Management at Cornell Universityis the beginning of a shift in the way services are delivered at hotels, from an activity-centric approach, where everything happens according to a schedule set by the hotel, to a more eco-friendly model. more visitors, in which the visitor’s desire drives the service.

Switching to a guest-friendly approach “can reduce complaints, increase satisfaction, reduce price sensitivity, increase return intent, and increase referral intent,” says Dr. explains that these changes are mutually beneficial as guests who still want their rooms cleaned daily can request it – and those who don’t ask won’t be disturbed.

Dr Dev hopes that in the future, some hotels will even offer rooms at a reduced rate if guests avoid housekeeping services – making housekeeping an almost a la carte option.

On a February trip to Alexandria, Va., Dr. Dev and his wife stayed three nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton, a mid-range hotel that extended their stay. Upon check-in, he was asked when and how often he wanted to clean the room; The couple chose to keep a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door for the duration of their stay. They called the front desk to get more towels, toilet paper and tissues.

Dr Dev said: “The hotel room cleaning cost for our stay was much lower than other expenses, and we were very pleased with the service.

Some guests are not satisfied with the changes.

“It annoys me when I have to work to get services that used to be the norm,” says Terry Stanton, a medical writer in Oak Park, Ill. “And for God’s sake, at least take out the trash. I hate wandering the hallways carrying a basket of last night’s food, cans and bottles, looking for that little room where people hide trash cans, if they can get in.”

Hotel unions see the cessation of daily cleaning as a direct attack on the work of their members. Ending daily housekeeping across the industry would eliminate up to 39% of all hotel housekeeping jobs in the United States, costing housekeeping about $5 billion in annual wages, according to a report. fox. report for 2021 via unite here, a labor union representing hotel workers. D. Taylor, international president of Unite Here in Las Vegas, said: “Most hotels temporarily stopped daily housekeeping when Covid started. “Hotel demand and room rates have now rebounded, but many hotels are trying to reach full occupancy without restoring the services guests expect and love.”

In recognition of the political power of associations, dozens of cities including Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York have passed agreements or laws requiring guests The hotel provides daily housekeeping as standard. And even these rules aren’t always respected: In January 2022, the lounge attendants belonged to the Culinary Workers Association. regroup in Las Vegas after it was reported that daily cleaning procedures were not being followed.

However, hotels have lost about $108 billion in revenue from business trips in 2020 and 2021, as the pandemic shuts tourism largely down, according to a 2022 report. report released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs, a company that measures and predicts the performance of the hotel industry. And a June 2022 survey out of 500 members of the AHLA find that 97 percent are experiencing staffing shortages. More than half, or 58%, said their most serious staffing shortage was housekeeping.

Meanwhile, housekeepers are losing wages, tips and a heavier task when they are actually on duty.

Elena Newman, who has worked as a housekeeper in Las Vegas for 19 years, says hotel managers may believe they are saving money by cutting back on cleaning, but that’s not the case.

Ms Newman said that when rooms are not cleaned daily, the job becomes more time consuming, explaining that although her hotel respects daily cleaning rules, sometimes guests turn on the signboards. “Do Not Disturb” sign on their door.

“There was soap scum building up in the bathroom, a lot of trash in the room and it took longer to clean and vacuum the room,” she said. “It made me very stressed because I was behind schedule at work.”

However, there are some people who don’t seem to mind that housekeeping is dwindling.

Trevor Stricker, co-founder and vice president of technology at Mightier, a Boston-based video game platform, who describes himself as “not too snobby,” said he manages to stay at home without being too snobby. I don’t need clean towels every day, and I don’t need them in my hotel room.

Mr Stricker said: “I’m more worried about some random person messing with the inevitable pile of phones, laptops and tablets with unwieldy chargers that keep them from charging. “The worst case scenario is something that doesn’t get charged for the demo.”

Therefore, he often hangs a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door. Although, it seems, no matter what, no one wants to bother him.


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