Saving Money By Forgoing Housekeeping

The recession has forced custodial managers in the hospitality industry to get creative with budgets. Most departments have already been cut to the extreme and function using only a skeleton crew, so it makes sense when frequency is scrutinized.

For example, in many hotels, it was decided that guests would be offered the option to forgo housekeeping services during their multi-night stay as a way to trim already thin budgets. The goal was to reduce the stress and demands of the staff, while offering an incentive (discount on room or coupon towards hotel restaurant) for guests staying at the hotel. What resulted was an increase in lost jobs and more strenuous work for existing employees.

According to some reports, guests that opt out of daily housekeeping are creating more work for staff. Multiple days worth of trash, dust and grime means more time spent cleaning each room. The additional strain has also resulted in an increase in worker injury, say reports.

As for jobs, because guests only have to give 24-hour notice of whether they want their room cleaned, workers find it difficult to supplement lost income. If requests for cleaning come in, housekeepers are expected to report for a day’s work. However, when guests opt out of daily housekeeping, employees are only given 24-hours notice of the lost income.

To make matters worse, the unsuspecting traveler thinks they are doing a good thing by opting out of this hospitality perk. Most facilities that offer this “guest incentive” are promoting it as “green” by stressing water and energy savings. Sure, cutting back on towel and sheet laundry will save water and energy, but what guests don’t consider is that water and energy have little to do with dusting, vacuuming and trash removal in hotel rooms. Are programs like this misleading hotel guests?

Sure there are green benefits to this type of program, but the real money savings is in employee cuts. If green is the goal, a comprehensive laundry reuse program can be easily implemented and it won’t compromise the jobs of the custodial crew.

  • Great article Corinne, I didn't even know that hotel visitors can opt out of cleaning. However it doesn't do any good for employees, they are loosing income and they have much more work to do with a situation like that.

  • I agree with you. But, is it really a savings enough to make it a "green" alternative. I would still want my room cleaned at least partially everyday.

  • I agree with you both. I like a clean room, but I am also one to do what I can to help the environment. If I didnt know this industry the way I do, I might opt out of cleaning if it meant I could help the green goal. And I think that is what hotels are hoping for from their guests. But, just because they say it is a green initiative, doesnt make it so. In fact, there is very little green benefit to a program like this. As I mentioned, it is strictly a way for hotels to cut costs and we all know that the largest line item on any budget is labor.

    I suspect that if hotels simply said that they wanted to save money by reducing frequencies, labor unions would be all over it and they wouldn't get a positive response from guests. But, adding that green element to the message plays on environmental heart-strings.

    Since I originally posted this blog, I have heard little of these programs or their success. For the sake of this industry and those working in it, I hope it stays that way.