Airport Hyatt Has New Trick To Limit Housekeeping Service

Recently I wrote that hotels are keeping their housekeeping costs down by making guests actually request it during their stay, and offering only limited service to guests who do ask for it.

Making the transaction costly (remember to call the front desk and wait on hold, or go downstairs to the desk and wait in line) means fewer people ask, and the hotel doesn’t have to service as many rooms each day. Do less in the rooms you do service during a guest’s stay, and a housekeeper finishes the work more quickly. Those two combine to mean paying a lot fewer housekeepers.

Of course, hotels don’t say that’s what they’re doing. Instead they claim that they’re catering to guest preferences by giving them choice. But if that were true they’d default to offering housekeeping service and allow guests to opt out. Oh, wait, that’s what they have always done. What’s different now is that they’ve found a way to cut costs, maintaining the lower levels of service they got used to providing during the pandemic.

Once you’re on this track, though, it’s tempting to keep going. And one hotel – the Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport – has found a creative way to do just that. There are two potential levers:

  1. Make housekeeping more difficult and costly to request (reduce the number of requests)
  2. Perform less service (make each service take less time so a single housekeeper can do more rooms per hour)

With current service pretty limited – a ‘light refresh’ generally just includes emptying trash, replacing towels, and making the bed without changing linens – there’s not much left to take away. Yet somehow the Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport manages to pull farther on both levers – add steps to the request process, and perform even less service than a light refresh.

If you want towels replaced during your stay you have to

  1. place them in a bag (don’t just leave them on the floor etc),
  2. complete paperwork
  3. call the hotel to let them know you are doing this

What’s more they presumably hope you won’t actually ask to have everything replaced, they’ll do the bare minimum items you check off on the form. You literally have both a form and a phone call to get towels.

And I have to say I almost admire the hotel for this? Sure they’re making things more and more cumbersome for guests to get the service that they want and expect. Guests are still paying as much for each night of their stay or maybe even more than they used to, but getting less on every night after the first one. And the hotel is reducing its product differentiation versus Airbnb, but maybe that matters less for an airport property.

However I have to admit I didn’t see a way for hotels to take the reduction in housekeeping even further, but this property has hit on a way. Pretty soon it’s going to be easier to just clean your room yourself than ask housekeeping to do it. Maybe they could open up supply closets, install coin-operated vending machines to dispense supplies, and give you directions to the hotel dumpster – that you’ll search for on your phone via QR code natch, rather than having the hotel print out and leave in your room. For the environment, of course.

(HT: @aviators99)

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. Is daily full housekeeping a standard all Hyatt Regency properties are required to perform?

  2. Hilton San Francisco Airport is only doing housekeeping if you specifically ask for it. The sign says you must request the night before but the front desk said by 9am the same day.

  3. @ Gary — This is disciminatory against the disabled. They should be sued. I for one, woud just call for towels.

  4. I guess we should sadly be thankful that allegedly the new service standard at non-luxury full service brands under Marriott defaults to a daily “refresh” of the room (no need to request)

  5. A couple of thoughts. First, go to hotel reviews to see what services they don’t offer that are normally expected, and don’t stay there. Boycotting does have an effect.

    Second, when checking in, tell them that you want a FULL service of the room everyday, and to make a note of it, and to make a note of that on the reservation/room record. That way they can’t say they didn’t know.

    Third, carry a door hanging placard that states “full room service expected” and hang it on your door.

    The problem is the hotels expect everyone to fit THEIR model. I won’t mess with waiting. I’ll be rude if I need to get their attention. After all, I’m paying for it. Don’t get cheap on me.

    All that said, this actually all fits in with my wife’s preferences. She does not like when someone comes into the room to clean it while we are away. She has a distrust of people, and I don’t blame her. She will request additional towels when we check in. And we don’t need the sheets changed every day. Once a week is sufficient. We are more icked out by the lack of cleaning in other areas. Have you taken a black light to your hotel room lately? I follow a guy that stays at cheaper properties and has a YouTube channel. Yeah, the rooms are pretty disgusting. And if you think a higher end hotel is any better, think again. Unless the house keeping supervisor goes through and inspects with a black light after every cleaning, you are getting what looks like a clean room, but is actually pretty disgusting.

  6. That would make me livid. As I only stay at Hyatt’s I’d ask to speak to manager, ask for owners email, then escalate with corporate. No way I’m paying for a room where they want me to do their work.

  7. Not only did they want me to put the stuff in a bag and fill out the form (maybe in triplicate, for all I know), but I did not see the bag OR the form. So they actually made it even harder.

  8. Hotel rooms are becoming progressively filthier. I now schedule my meetings and flights to carve off at least one night per trip when possible.

  9. My God how entitled is everyone. You really don’t need housekeeping every day unless you are a slob and who changes the sheets on their bed at home daily?! Give me a break. You will get by with less housekeeping.

    Please quit WHINING about this so much. If this is you main problem you have a pretty perfect (and boring) life!!

  10. It boils down to transaction costs for the guests. In some cases, I’ve found it easier to request the 4 pm check out and change hotels (Hyatts) each night. I am assured of a refreshed room.

  11. Your opinion is your opinion but honestly I prefer the post-pandemic equilibrium. I always forgot to opt-out and then I’d feel slightly skeeved out someone was in my room and irritated about my bed being made (I prefer sleeping in an unmade bed). When I did remember to opt out, I was also always annoyed my room cost had a labor cost that I wasn’t using.

    We go most of our lives without our spaces being cleaned daily, I don’t see why a prosaic hotel should be different. Luxury hotels are obviously a different matter.

  12. Dear AC;

    The rates at many of these hotels are ridiculous. When they offered less housekeeping years ago they gave free points which was a fair exchange.

    Do I need fresh sheets daily? No and many hotels have not done that for years. But a refresh of amenities and towels is basic.

    To me I am either staying one night at a hotel where all this is meaningless. Or I am staying multiple nights for work or vacation and yes, I love coming back to a refreshed room. Just like you could eat badly prepared food and tasty food and still get the same nutrients, I still before the meal that taste better.

    It part of what makes work travel semi enjoyable and what makes a vacation a vacation va staying at home in your pool.

    Rates at hotels are thru the roof, they are making a killing and providing less and less. Why do people keep on saying it’s ok to pay more and get less value?

  13. If a 4* property is going to offer 2* service and treat guests like the propane tanks in the exchange cubbyholes at Home Depot – unattended, ignored, unserviced – why not cut to the chase, book the 2* property, and save $150+ / night?

  14. You like many hotel guests want the cheapes rate and the most service. You can’t have both. The next best question to say yourself is do you change your sheets and towels at home daily and remove your trash? No the hotels created this now they have to uncreate it. Remember when airlines fead you a full hot meal when you went form one coast to another. Or when your bags did not cost you extra? So hotel safe doing the same airlines did in the late 80 resetting the custome expectations

  15. What does Hyatt charge for RV hookups? Are most of them located next to a discount supermarket?

  16. Over Christmas, daughter and I stayed in very nice, very expensive hotel at Dubai Mall.

    We don’t need daily housekeeping but mainly we had a ton of expensive scuba and photography gear, so we kept the Do Not Disturb sign on.

    Lol but the hotel almost came unglued that we didn’t have daily housekeeping. They came by the room, they called us several times,even had a manager check with us to make sure we didn’t need them to come in and we just said, we are fine, we’ll call if we need anything.

    We didn’t need daily linens or the trash emptied.

    You don’t see this kind of attention in US hotels.

  17. If they aren’t bringing me clean towels, at least install towel racks for me to hang the dirty/wet towels on. We stayed at an Embassy Suites…no daily housekeeping (which is fine), but zero places to hang a used towel.

  18. All I want is clean linens and a clean bathroom when I check in. It would be nice if the door knobs were wiped. And if you have one the room phone, refrigerator and microwave where you touch were cleaned. You expect the inside of the refrigerator and microwave to be clean. I’d also like a new ice bucket and a fresh or cleaned coffee/tea pot. I’ve heard a lot of surfaces get missed so I took some disinfectant wipes/spray and cleaned myself. If the guests before me were messy on the floor or carpet I would want them cleaned. If not, I can pass on that. I had a maid go hog wild and threw out my retainers for my teeth. Thank goodness they were found! After that I put out my do not disturb sign. And to make sure I put the retainers in a case and took them with me! I don’t need daily housekeeping. I only need extra toilet paper, coffee, tea, cream, soap, lotion and shampoo. I set my trash outside the door and ask for extra bags when I see the housekeeping cart.

  19. I’ve just spent 3 months living in various hotels (all in the same city, long story). The housekeeping situation varied a lot even within the same brand. I don’t feel I need it every day as a solo guest, 2/3 towels will last me easily 3 days. But… if you’re going to only housekeep every 4-5 days unless requested (looking at you Hilton), at least leave me enough tea and coffee! 2 servings is not going to get me through 4 days! In one place they came every day and did a good job (this was a Hyatt in fact) with no requests needed, in another even after requesting (twice on one occasion) I still got nothing or a few new towels (and still no coffee! or top up of shower gel/shampoo), In another they were throwing K cups at me as if they were candy, 8 on one day on one occasion (and I was solo).

    Personally if they give an adequate supply of coffee, shampoo etc then every other day seems a perfectly reasonable balance of cost saving for the hotel but keeping the room feeling refreshed and clean for the guests.

  20. Thanks for continuing to talk about this topic. This rush to the bottom level of service is embarrassing for our country. We should not stand for this.
    And all the weirdos that don’t like “people coming in my room and touching my scuba gear” please go to Airbnb where you belong and let the rest of us enjoy freshly changed sheets daily.

  21. Oh you forgot to mention in your article… The hotel will pass this off as doing their bit for the planet, when in fact the real reason is cost cutting. Yes less laundry helps, but so would replacing those mini plastic bottles and not leaving the lights on and TV in some welcome ad mode in a room that’s empty half the day

  22. I’m fine with this. We prefer not to have anyone in our room unless we are staying for more than 4 days and want the sheets changed. It’s just not a big deal.

  23. Take one of those bags, cut up your Hyatt card, and send it addressed to Hyatt’s President. If enough of you do that, Hyatt will get the message.

  24. I would speak to the manager unless it was previously disclosed.

    Maybe even dispute the bill with the credit card company.

    Next they will make you clean the room and toilet from the prior guest.

  25. Everyone here should be applauding these folks not whining!
    The property owners are doing this for everyone’s future benefits
    They are heroes saving the planet
    They are ardent supporters of the green movement with the green going straight to their pockets

  26. Sorry, @Terri, I agree with @Dave. If you’re not going to refresh my room, don’t expect a tip to not work. And it doesn’t matter who is making the rules. Right now, the worker is at a premium (as your article discloses) – so it is up to the employer to keep the worker reasonably satisfied.

  27. Many say they are okay with this new level of service. Well, if you are okay with this, then get ready for continual cuts to service from companies looking to find new ways to save money or make money off of you. Also, a hotel room that is not cleaned on a regular basis will get more run down over time. And when did people feel that everyone should be tipped for just doing their job. Tipping use to be for exceptional extra service. Now it is expected by just about everyone. It’s not my job to pay someone a tip for just doing their job because they supposedly don’t make a living wage. Take that up with management that hired you. Tipping is totally out of hand. Most foreign countries don’t tip at all, but somewhere some people in the US decided that every service worker should be tipped for doing their job. Many won’t even do their job well, but still expect to get tipped. Now the cruise lines are going to one cleaning a day stating it is the hotel industry standard. Hopefully they don’t go to this model. They now have one cabon steward cleaning 30 rooms a day which is undoable, by the way, all to save the corporations money. If customers do not push back, it will never end and will get worse. And I have yet to see a hotel lower their rates for this less service.

  28. AC its not being entitled to expect what you are paying for! Thats how standards are constantly on a downward trend in usa.
    Also why are these such issues in the US and not in the rest of the world??
    Because you not only put up with it but actively justify this nonsense.

  29. Maybe some (more?) hotels will charge a cleaning fee for trash removal or trash sorting not done (properly?) by the guests? “There is a $5 service charge for properly sorting out your recyclable trash to help save the planet.”

  30. Or tell hotel guests that complimentary linen changes are done between guests and every 7 days but guests can freely change their own linens during a stay or pay $___ fee for housekeeping to do it more often than that.

  31. “And housekeeping is the most critical current staffing shortage for American hotels.”?

    That’s a self-fulfilling prophesy for the hotels, as the hotels had already cut staffing in a lot in other areas. But as rooms still need cleaning between guests, that requires a lot of housekeepers even after the hotels cut the number of housekeepers per room turned.

    And given how reluctant the industry has been to raise wages/housekeeping costs, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the real shortage is the real unwillingness of the hotel owners/managers and their financiers to maintain or reduce their profit margins means they don’t want to pay more for housekeeping.

  32. BEFORE ask for *Not cleaning service* better ask, if this service reduce my cost for rent a room. My answer is Not.
    Housecleaner don’t make a lot money for clean you room $7 to $8 before tax, Innsurance, etc.

  33. It just shocks me that “full-service” brands pull this sort of… stuff, and yet people still stay there. Why not simply stay at an economy hotel, where the expectation is that additional towels and amenities are at the front desk for guests to pick up when needed? If you are expected to do everything yourself, better to just pay a price that reflects this reality.

    To that end, I’d have more respect for a hotel that charged $1 room rates, and then offered a la carte options. Perhaps there might even be discounted bundles for travelers who, say, wanted both electricity AND fresh linens?

  34. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: non-daily housekeeping / housekeeping on request IS a improvement both for my as the customer and for the hotel.

    But this is absurd. No way I’m doing paperwork for housekeeping.

  35. When did this policy go into effect? I stay at that Hyatt quite regularly and haven’t ran into that issue, I am a Globalist though. I will be returning there soon and find out for myself first hand.

  36. @Kalman Kuhn. This isn’t only a U.S. problem. I heard hotels in London are short staffed. There are long lines in the hotel restaurants and poor service.

  37. Seems to me they’re wanting ppl to toss their used towels in the hallway and to take fresh off of the cart as needed. ‍♂️

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