Starwood pioneered giving customers the equivalent of 1500 Marriott points per night foregoing housekeeping. This was a cost savings for hotels who didn’t have to spend as much on housekeeping staff, and they rebated part of the savings to guests. Marriott adopted this for its full service hotels, but the new Bonvoy program devalued what customers received with just 500 points.
Now in the Covid era, with hotels having fewer guests, regular housekeeping isn’t being provided as a cost-cutting measure under the guise of social distancing. In fairness some guests will prefer that housekeepers not enter their room during a stay. But tiny trash cans, with takeaway food piling up, leads to messy rooms and housekeeping needs to at least be an option.
With housekeeping gone by default, Marriott has eliminated their ‘green choice’ program of compensating guests for skipping the service. Loyalty Lobby quotes a Marriott spokesperson making the bizarre claim that simultaneously guests do not want housekeeping during their stay and guests do not want points in lieu of housekeeping either.
The global pandemic is affecting the preferences of all guests staying in our hotels who are increasingly choosing to forego daily housekeeping to limit contact during their stay.
In many cases when guests request housekeeping during their stays, it is to tidy up the room such as making the bed and replacing towels which can often now be requested via the mobile app.
Yet, among members the overwhelming majority do not choose the Make a Green Choice option, so the program is being discontinued. It is important to reiterate that all guest rooms are deep cleaned between stays.
Now it’s possible that fewer people were selecting ‘green choice’ before the pandemic, but maybe that’s because Marriott cut the value offered to the customer by two-thirds?
As one reader wrote to me this week about a just-completed stay, “I was surprised (when I very politely asked) that after 2 nights of a three night stay if my room could be serviced, I was told (very nicely) no. I mentioned my trash overflowing with coke cans and water bottles and the need for more towels and they finally said they would come collect trash. I also asked for towels and another bar of soap, etc. I got the towels, but no supplies.” And eh offered that this alone was enough to make him not take leisure trips.
Treating hotels – full service hotels – as a purely functional tool to facilitate being somewhere contributes to making travel just not fun. While I understand the desire to cut costs in a low revenue environment, these are relatively small costs that alter the value proposition of the stay for the guest. And that doesn’t begin to get into how offensive it is to charge resort fees when no amenities are available.
Hotels need to work harder to please guests when they have empty rooms. Delivering less value than before is a recipe for lower rates and more empty rooms. Moving to a no housekeeping standard where it no longer makes sense to compensate guests for no housekeeping is the wrong equilibrium for recovery.