Daily cleaning can be a permanent victim of Covid: Travel Weekly
To clean or not to clean daily, that is the question.
Daily hotel housekeeping, once a standard amenity at virtually all properties across the chain, has now become the exception, not the rule, in today’s Covid-era normalcy.
At the height of the pandemic, many U.S. properties suspended routine daily housekeeping in an effort to limit contact and potential contagion between staff and guests, and they emphasized enhanced disinfection in spaces. public spaces as well as more intensive room cleanings between guest stays.
At the time, the risk of rejection of guests was minimal. Health and safety had become paramount, and the lack of daily housekeeping was just one of many sudden changes – from the rollout of packed breakfasts and QR code menus to contactless check-in. In pandemic-era travel, guests have taken it all in stride.
But as domestic leisure travel has resumed and vaccinations help mitigate the threat of Covid, the fact that automatic daily housekeeping has yet to resume across much of the industry has become a hot issue for customers as well as for leaders and members of hotel trade unions.
Social media backlash has grown in recent months, with some posters portraying reduced room cleaning as a sneaky way for hotels to maintain rates while providing a lower level of service. Others have pointed out that ditching daily housekeeping narrows the gap between the traditional hotel experience and the self-service check-in model favored by most traditional vacation rental platforms.
In other words, what’s the difference between a limited-service hotel with no daily housekeeping and your average Airbnb?
Meanwhile, hotel unions have argued that reduced housekeeping translates to fewer jobs and that dirty rooms that haven’t been serviced daily are proving more difficult for housekeepers to maintain. turn around between stays.
That hotels are delaying the full return of housekeeping services should come as no surprise.
On the heels of a devastating 2020, many properties, especially those in major urban destinations, are still struggling to achieve profitability, and a reduction in housekeeping would certainly help keep operating costs under control. And in the leisure and resort markets where demand has been robust, a national labor shortage has made it difficult to find enough housekeepers for daily cleaning, even assuming that they want to provide it.
As a result, many brands and properties have chosen to quietly extend their maintenance discounts indefinitely.
Housekeeping option at the Hilton
Hilton was the first major hospitality player to declare housekeeping an on-demand option. Across the majority of the company’s US brand portfolio, rooms will only be cleaned once every five days unless requested.
Exempt from the new policy are Hilton’s luxury lodges, including brands Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and LXR, which will retain daily housekeeping.
In a statement, Hilton said “guests told us they had varying levels of comfort with someone entering their room after they checked in.”
On the one hand, there’s certainly something to be said for Hilton to be fully transparent about its updated housekeeping protocols, setting clear expectations for guests.
But while Hilton has sought to assure guests that daily housekeeping remains available if they request it, this distinction suddenly seems to put housekeeping in the same category of amenities as other “on-request” extras like beds. folding beds, cradles or connecting rooms.
These are generally extras that are not guaranteed and are available largely on a first-come, first-served basis. Housekeeping, on the other hand, seems (for now) to be really on demand.
For travelers who view automatic daily housekeeping as a non-negotiable part of their hotel stay, this particular “on request” nonetheless sets an ominous precedent.