U.S. hotels are considering cutting back on housekeeping staff and services like daily room cleaning as they struggle to hire back a large enough proportion of their pre-COVID-19 workforce, according to The Washington Post.
Despite the increased awareness and recognition of the vital role played by cleaning and housekeeping staff, it’s thought that hotels are starting to wonder if customers would settle for fewer services like limited room cleaning during a stay.
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.
According to Bellisario, these potential reductions are coming after years of slow growth and rising costs for hotels. The pandemic has also opened many operators’ eyes to various alternative different business models.
Meanwhile, guests are reconsidering what they want out of a hotel stay. An August 2020 survey from the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that almost two-thirds of travellers said they didn’t want or need 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.'”
That could lead towards an opt-in rather than opt-out system for hotel cleaning.
However, while daily room cleaning was cut out at many hotels during the pandemic as a way to curb the spread of the virus, housekeepers have warned that it means leaving those still employed with a far greater workload. Housekeepers also said they felt more unsafe cleaning up rooms that had been occupied for days or weeks at times.