Is the hotel world moving away from daily room service?
Early on in the COVID Pandemic days, many hotels that remained open stopped daily housekeeping services, saying it was for their clients and staff protection. Are hotels abandoning daily room service now? Are they that desperate to save money? Or, are there other reasons?
Many of my clients still traveled and complained about it. But, they got used to the concept. Hotels would also, on request, deliver extra towels, etc. So, did daily cleaning make a big difference?
With more travel resuming, especially business travel, hotel housekeeping is coming back. Sort of.
But like most things regarding travel these days, it’s complicated.
Personally, I’ve stayed in a handful of hotels in the past few months. In a couple of cases, and it doesn’t correlate with hotel cost or the number of stays, my room was automatically given at least a quick cleaning every night. (The Holiday Inn, Mt. Kisco, did it automatically and amazingly quickly without us saying a word, although they indicated a “deep clean” was done only after checkout.)
Another hotel asked at check-in if we wanted room cleaning each day. Still another said rooms were cleaned only every three days except by special request.
I realize the value of housekeeping service varies greatly depending on the traveler. Personally, while I am not a neat freak, I love coming back to a nice-looking room. Some clients and friends I know preferred not to have anyone in their room. Pre-pandemic, some hotels were doing things like offering small credits on your room bill if you decline housekeeping services.
Is room service disappearing because of climate change? Or the coronavirus? Or cleaning staff? Who knows?
Before COVID, hotels cloaked the idea of foregoing daily room service as environmentally friendly. We all have stayed in hotels that have placards in bathrooms saying, “Hang up your towels if you want to use them again. Otherwise, toss them in the tub.” Recently, of course, pandemic cleaning is the reason/excuse. But there’s another factor, and it’s housekeeping staff pay and for how many hours.
Hotels claim that even if occupancy rises, and presumably if housekeeping service is limited to on-demand only, it cuts down on needed cleaning services so there’s less need for as many staff.
Labor is a big part of hotel costs. And, presumably, the more staff a hotel has, the more they are likely to raise rates to make a profit. And, of course, both sides will accuse the other of being unreasonable — unions and workers will say hotels are overemphasizing profits, and hotels will claim they can’t survive without cutting costs. Plus, there are further controversies about whether hotels should hire back by seniority, the most experienced and presumably highest-paid staffers, or other factors.
You want basic service. The hotel wants to save money. Will it make a difference where you choose to stay?
So the question about having hotel room service becomes more complicated. The bottom line for you may be simply getting what you want — daily room service at a hotel. You may select only getting a quick once-over in your room and getting your bed made. Some travelers want full deep-cleaning every day. Others only want the towels changed each day. However, for the hotel, it’s a lot more these days than about fresh towels.
Hotels must balance their occupancy rate with the number of rooms and their staffing levels. Then they have to figure out how many staff they will hire. Those decisions are all factored against union agreements and contract conditions.
You as a traveler must also factor in whether it is worth the savings to do without hotel room service. For some, it is. For others, it is not.
Janice Hough is a California-based travel agent a travel blogger and a part-time comedy writer. A frequent flier herself, she’s been doing battle with airlines, hotels, and other travel companies for over three decades. Besides writing for Travelers United, Janice has a humor blog at Leftcoastsportsbabe.com (Warning, the political and sports humor therein does not represent the views of anyone but herself.)