The hotels that offer to give up cleaning their rooms


Several American and international hotel chains have been experimenting for some years with a cost containment system that offers guests discounts on the price of their stay, or some other type of benefit, if they renounce the daily cleaning of the room. For example, 23 of the 30 chains of the Marriott International group are doing it, in addition to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and it is a practice that apparently may seem harmless and that enriches the offer for customers: according to some experts of tourist reception and according to some unions, however, this is not the case, an article on Washington Post.

Normally, in hotels from the middle range upwards, the staff passes into the rooms every morning to clean the bathroom, change the sheets and make the bed, empty the baskets and basically bring the room back in its neat and tidy version in which the it is the first time you enter it. It is obviously a big cost for hotels, especially for staff costs but also for the laundry costs of sheets and towels.

To reduce laundry costs, for many years now hotels have placed notices in the bathrooms urging guests not to wash their towels every day but to reuse them. Usually, to justify the request, hotels add environmental reasons: less washed towels means more water and energy saved.

Many hotels are also focusing on ecological justification to suggest guests the possibility of not having their room cleaned: the IHG chain has called the “Greener Stay” option, others have chosen “Make a Green Choice”, etc. In return, hotels offer loyalty points to accumulate to get discounted or free stays, or freebies at the bar, or other types of benefits. It is not such a new thing, in absolute terms: the Starwood chain has had such a program for over ten years: but according to the Washington Post the practice is spreading especially in recent years, and mainly among mid-range hotels.

Among the advantages for hoteliers, in addition to savings on staff and laundry costs, there is also the inclusion of guests in their loyalty programs: by renouncing cleaning in the room and obtaining a discount on future stays, a part of the customers will decide to go back to a chain structure. But there are also negative aspects: Paul Bagdan, a professor of hotel management at Johnson & Wales University, explained that daily visits to staff rooms are one of the most effective safety prevention systems, because they are easily noticed for first of any failures or potentially dangerous damages for the guests. For this reason, the Walt Disney Resort, for example, warns customers that staff can still enter the rooms every morning, even if they choose to give up cleaning.

A large part of the problems then concern employees. Unite Here, a union in the hotel and restaurant sector, released a report explaining that hotel staff work less in the jobs where programs of this type are active, resulting in lower wages. Cleaning up rooms that haven’t been tidied up for several days is heavier work.

But there is also one last question: some tourism experts warn that in the long run hotels may pay the choice to offer guests the opportunity to give up the daily cleaning of the room, because it brings the hotel’s offer closer to that of the houses for short term rentals, such as those of Airbnb. The hotel sector has been known for years in great difficulty in managing the competition of similar services, and many argue that, since it is difficult to compete on prices, generally lower on Airbnb, hotels have no other option than to offer a very different service, and best. «The point of a hotel room is that it is better than the guest house, and one of the main reasons is that it is cleaned daily. Think about it: how many of you clean your bedroom every day? »Wrote the specialized eHotelier website.

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