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:
- Make housekeeping more difficult and costly to request (reduce the number of requests)
- 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
- place them in a bag (don’t just leave them on the floor etc),
- complete paperwork
- 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.