The Dirty Little Secret Of Chain Hotels Bringing Back Daily Housekeeping

During the pandemic hotels used the excuse of not wanted to enter a guest’s space to cut housekeeping services. When guests returned, hotel owners liked their lower costs, and didn’t want to bring back full housekeeping. But it’s something that guests expect.

Hilton’s CEO defends not offering full housekeeping. He’s said “When you’re at home, do you change your sheets every day? Do you wash your towels every day? … No.” But hotel stays aren’t the same as being at home, if they were you’d just book an Airbnb.

The middle ground chains have largely landed on is bringing back the option of housekeeping, rather than making it something every hotel has to do every day. And many guests won’t proactively request it.

Some chains are even making daily housekeeping the default again. At least in theory.

Marriott even offers the opt-in or out of housekeeping as a radio button choice when making your reservation on their website for U.S. and Canada properties. Not in my experience any hotel, ever looks at – let alone acts on – these preferences. Still, housekeeping is supposed to be standard.

Daily cleaning is now standard at all premium-tier properties for stays of two nights or more and every other day cleaning at select service and extended stay brands for stays of three nights or more. Obviously, rooms will be cleaned between guests for stays of shorter lengths. If you do not want daily or every other day cleaning, you must opt out.

That may not be how things work in practice and the housekeeping you receive may not be the housekeeping you’ve come to expect.

Marriott’s Westin Annapolis is clear that you can have the choice for housekeeping and they’ve even brought back ‘Make a Green Choice’ to discourage the housekeeping expense – albeit the current version is a lot less generous than Starwood’s used to be. But read a little closer to see what housekeeping consists of.

They will make the bed (not change sheets), replace towels, and take out trash. They’ll restock the coffee, but ‘supplies’ are pretty limited since most properties are using wall-mounted toiletries anyway.

I asked Marriott if this is what they mean by housekeeping. They confirmed that the Westin Annapolis “is in compliance.”

Even making housekeeping optional sounds good in theory, ‘guests are empowered’, but many guests won’t incur the cost of remembering to ask and then making the actual request for housekeeping. And they have to ask. Some will be bashful about it.

United Airlines figured out they could save money on food and beverage service in business class by eliminating the ‘wine flights’ where they offered to let customers try different wines, and by eliminating dessert carts. Putting the choice in front of the passenger encouraged consumption. Making customers ask discouraged consumption. And in the process they turned an indulgent service into a workmanlike one. Hotels are a more competitive space than airlines, and Airbnb looms large.

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