Hotels Cut Amenities To Pay For Cleaning

There’s no question hotels are struggling – many are closed, and yet occupancy rates for the ones still open remain at lows not seen prior to the pandemic. They’re going to have to do more, spend more, to bring guests back. That means investing in sneeze guards, and more cleaning products, and also spending more on marketing. But it comes at a time when hotels are struggling to meet their mortgage payments.

So it’s no surprise that hotel chains are looking at ways to cut costs any way they can. Marriott promoted using their mobile app for keyless entry to room, bypassing contact with the front desk, as one way to promote distancing. Yet it let hotel owners delay actually putting this feature in.

Expect hotels to look at ways to cut costs anywhere they can and to use coronavirus as an excuse. Even better when changing consumer preferences make it easier to impose cost savings. The Wall Street Journal reports on hotel chain efforts to fund enhanced cleanliness by cutting other amenities.

Many—including franchise-run chains—are cutting amenities such as daily housekeeping visits, hot breakfast buffets and even complimentary soaps and lotions. The moves may help defray the costs of sanitizers, protective face masks and antiviral cleaning devices for individual hotel owners.

“Lysol is the new luxury,” said Chekitan Dev, a professor in the hospitality school at Cornell University.

Choice Hotels “sees an opportunity in scaling back its hot breakfast options, a move that helps meet local food-service requirements and addresses customer concerns and expectations regarding hygiene.” They plan to offer cheaper prepackaged food instead of eggs and breakfast meat. This is explicitly tied to funding cleaning efforts, expecting “the savings on breakfast to offset the cost of products that hotel owners will need to buy to meet Choice’s new cleaning standards.”

Meanwhile Best Western is similarly working to be “cost neutral” as it rolls out greater cleaning investment.

Since it’s actually a cost saving measure, none of the chains have announced they’re backing off on the move to wall mounted bulk toiletries in the shower even though those are disgusting, shared across guests, and high touch.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’ve been staying in hotels for the last few weeks on several vacation trips in the USA and have noticed that each hotel is a bit different. Most are offering some sort of grab and go breakfast, even some hotels that don’t offer free breakfast normally but most don’t offer any coffee in the lobby. They direct you to the coffee maker in the room. I guess coffee causes Covid19 spread worse than the “super clean” in-room coffee makers.
    Here are some examples. Holiday Inn Express in St. Louis area offered K-cup coffee in the lobby but desk employees had to make it and they offered yogurt, cereal, and some prepacked items like bagels. Hampton Inn in Santa Rosa New Mexico offered no coffee, very limited breakfast bar type grab, and go brown bags but the front desk clerk was verbally assaulting anyone walking through the lobby to exit the hotel if they didn’t wear a mask. Four Points Hotel in Mesa Arizona had the pool actually open (unlike most hotels but closed it at 5 pm for “safety”?) but the restaurant and bar were totally closed. They also offered grab and go bags with a granola bar, orange, and free bottles of water but no coffee except in the room. Staybridge in Albuquerque offered Otis Spunkmeyer muffins only and no coffee but the rooms have full-size coffee makers and coffee provided. It seems the common theme is that coffee in the lobby is a hazard in hotels but not in truck stops or convenience stores. I assume this is cost savings but personally I’d rather get a coffee in the lobby over a granola bar. I just appreciate the hotels being open.
    I haven’t noticed other reduced services or soap, etc. The only complaint I really have is you’ll check into a hotel with 25% or less occupancy and they put everyone in rooms next to each other which contributes to a noisy environment in the hotel when it would have been very quiet. The upside is that the wifi bandwidth is very good with so few guests.

  2. The examples provided by the reader above are for mass market hotel chains. What about what’s happening with luxury and high end hotels? Any details on those?

  3. Marriott is also refusing to enforce its Bonvoy terms, namely the compensation clauses. So if a hotel gives you a double even if your reservation was for a king you won’t get any money. Hotels are claiming they can’t service rooms because they don’t have enough housekeepers. Of course, less cleaning means dirtier hotels and dirtier hotels means potentially unsafe hotels. Marriott is also letting hotels in some brands avoid having to pay you points if the lounge or restaurant is closed.

    Those dispensers need to go. Didn’t the CDC say the dispensers spread viruses?

  4. I wonder if there will be a calling now for those individual toiletries again versus the bulk items that everyone touches. There is actually a decent argument to call for individual single use items now. Restaurants are now required to have single use plastic wear, single use menus, and planes are using single-use everything.

    Just a thought.

  5. I don’t think we know enough about disease transmission from surfaces to get into a lather about this “trend.” I don’t read about too much transmission happening from phantom previous hotel guests.

  6. I agree it cuts cost but I really like the fact there is no housekeeping during a stay. I typically declined housekeeping anyway and just asked for more towels or shampoo if needed. I’d rather the hotel do a deeper clean between guests and then not come in the room. This one works for both the hotel and me.

    Also the breakfasts and lounges are impacted in many cases by local restrictions. Let’s see what it looks like in 6–9 months.

  7. I found it very interesting that the Hyatt Place in Lubbock this weekend was able to sell snacks, food, and beer, but couldn’t provide breakfast “for our safety.”

  8. Hilton lounge hot breakfast replaced with “continental” breakfast of coffee, fruit, and a muffin. Better than nothing I suppose

  9. Indigo Hotel in Gainesville Florida, quite dirty,
    First room had old food in refrigerator & peanuts all over floor.
    We asked for new room which we sanitized ourselves .
    No signs anywhere for guest not to share elevator even with mask. One woman yelled we were rude. Could not wait to leave the place even it’s quite new.

  10. I feel quite sure that we are going to get to the point where we will feel “safer” if we bring our own disinfectant wipes and wipe down whatever in our own hotel room. I was in charge of the wipe down in our offices during the first weeks of this virus. It is very tedious and time consuming. Unless a hotel, airplane, Disney World even hires people only to be a wipe down person, it’s just not going to get done on a regular, thorough, basis. And, how many individual wipes are needed per room? Do you use a spray and the same towel for every room? Aren’t the environmentalists going to go bonkers when this individual use trash starts piling up? We’re going to be drowning in disinfectant wipes the longer this goes on . . .

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