As travel picks up, hotels are looking for ways to cut labor costs by removing daily room cleanings

·3 min read
A woman makes a hotel bed
Chambermaid Alina Teaca prepares a room at the Radisson Blu Hotel Hamburg Airport for the next guest. Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hotels are considering cutting back services like daily room cleaning as they struggle to some struggle to hire enough workers while others have yet to bring back all of their staff, The Washington Post reported.

Analysts told the outlet that as the industry comes back, many hotels are wondering if customers would be okay with fewer services like limited room cleaning during a stay and less expansive breakfast.

The changes could mean there are fewer hotel service workers in the future.

Michael Bellisario, an analyst at the financial company Robert W. Baird & Co., told the Post many hotels were considering permanently reducing services like cleaning and free breakfasts.

"Owners and operators are using the pandemic and the opportunity to cut costs and permanently change, or at least temporarily change, the operating model because it was already an issue," Bellisario said.

He told the Post these reductions come after years of slow growth and rising costs for hotels, and the pandemic has allowed many to see different business models as they scaled back services to help curb the spread of the virus.

Guests as well are reconsidering what they want out of a hotel stay.

A survey from August 2020 from the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that almost two-thirds of travelers said they didn't want daily housekeeping.

"The vast majority of our customers don't want us cleaning their room while they are staying with us," said Robert Kline, the chief executive, and co-founder of the Chartres Lodging Group, a private equity investment firm that focuses on lodging, told The New York Times last year. "They want to know the room is clean when they enter, but once they occupy that room they are saying, 'Don't come in.'"

In a November call with investors, Jim Risoleo, the CEO of Host Hotels, one of the private-sector owners of Marriott, said the hotel industry was moving towards a model where it would be "opt-in to housekeeping services as opposed to opt-out going forward," the Post reported.

While daily room cleaning was cut out during the pandemic as a way to curb the spread of the virus, housekeepers said it was more harmful to them. The measure meant millions of jobs in the industry were cut, leaving those left with a larger workload, the Times reported.

Housekeepers also said they felt more unsafe cleaning up rooms that had been occupied for days or weeks at times and collected large amounts of trash and dirt than they did with daily cleanings.

Others told the Times, that even with these protocols they still had the same limited time to clean up each room, usually about 20 to 30 minutes, and if they took longer could face consequences including being fired.

"They are still busy," Pauline Petit-Homme, a housekeeper at the Fountainebleau in Miami told the Times. "They don't have no respect for the housekeeping. We work very hard in the housekeeping and now we do more work in the same time and it's hard."

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