A necessary warning for housekeeping opt-out credits
A necessary warning for housekeeping opt-out credits
02 MAY 2018 7:30 AM

Providing guests with credits to opt-out of housekeeping might be taking away from the core idea of hospitality. 

There’s an interesting service concept that has been gaining some steam recently, but there could be lurking blowback with potentially disastrous consequences if it’s adopted by all hotels and segments around the world.

The idea here is that many travelers nowadays do not want or need cleaning services for the time they are staying at a hotel, so properties are now offering guests a credit for opting out of housekeeping that can be applied to other operations like food and beverage, gift-shop spending, loyalty points or other resort amenities.

The benefits are also there for property owners, as such programs could translate into higher profit margins. Forgoing the daily room attendant process is good for the environment because less sheets or towels to wash means saving energy. Many hotels already have a card system in place where guests can place notices around the room to advise housekeepers to leave linens in place or for towels in the bathroom, so a full opt-out is a natural extension of this. Additionally, such programs ensure that no housekeepers are overworked as they will have fewer rooms overall to clean, while ultimately fewer rooms means reduced shift and staffing requirements.

This à la carte service model is a noble effort, and indeed it offers a worthy incentive for both managers and customers that’s quite in line with the mood of the times. But, such service models may have long-term repercussions in that a housekeeping opt-out—no matter the compensatory lure—removes one of the core sales propositions of a hotel guestroom.

To understand the subtleties of the situation, take a moment to step back and think broadly about what the core of hospitality truly is. Is it merely heads in beds? Is it attentive and prompt service with a smile? Or is it a diligent care for each and every guest to ensure that they are better off when they leave than when they arrived?

I’d argue that the innermost nadir of the core of hospitality is a feeling—an emotional state of mind that we give to our guests. We want them to leave happy, refreshed, nourished and a myriad of other positive modifiers. Importantly, to render these emotional states, hoteliers utilize specific services, each designed to make our customers feel a certain way.

Friendly clerks at the front desk put guests at ease because they know their individual requests will be diligently handled. Likewise, our numerous security protocols make visitors feel safe. And the housekeeping department—with its scrupulous standard operating procedures—imparts guests with a restorative sensation.

Aside from the base hygienic benefit for guests, having a roving army of room attendants provides several other important benefits that may go overlooked. A threadbare housekeeping department poses a severe security risk as, aside from their primary role as cleaners, these team members also act as the eyes and the ears of your property’s corridors, making sure that guests aren’t injured or distressed, watching out for suspicious characters and inspecting rooms to ensure that they are being used for their intended purposes instead of—to cite one of the more outrageous instances—being converted into temporary drug labs!

To circle back to the primary argument in favor about creating a positive emotional connection with customers, our room attendants also represent another physical touch point with guests. In today’s era of disruption where hotels are gradually losing out to alternate forms of accommodations, it is critical to maintain as many elements of guest interaction as possible so that our properties are memorable and customers stay loyal.

Ultimately, it is your decision as to whether forgoing housekeeping for onsite credits will be advantageous to your specific hotel or not. It depends on the type of property and what your guests want, but please keep my warning in mind regarding what you stand to lose if you deemphasize this fundamental hospitality service.

One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes four books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), and “The Llama is Inn” (2017). You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

1 Comment

  • Dallas GM May 2, 2018 10:55 AM Reply

    Larry makes some really good points in the argument of what makes a quality hotel experience special.
    The brands are addressing the security concern with mandated training and protocols, which is welcomed and warranted. However, we have to think about the majority desire of the traveler. For a business hotel, guest do not want daily service. The younger travelers want to make a difference and feel good about reducing energy and water resources. This is a trend that is being supported by our guests, and we are listening. It will always be "opt out", so guests can do nothing and have their room serviced everyday.

Comments that include blatant advertisements or links to products or company websites will be removed to avoid instances of spam. Also, comments that include profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, solicitations or advertising, or other similarly inappropriate or offensive comments or material will be removed from the site. You are fully responsible for the content you post. The opinions expressed in comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Please report any violations to our editorial staff.