Skimpflation: One of the most basic hotel amenities is disappearing | Culture & Leisure

Whether out of necessity due to a lack of staff, to respect social distancing or perhaps just to save money, one of the main amenities that distinguishes a hotel from your home – daily housekeeping – is disappearing.

The days of going back to a wrinkle-free comforter are probably over. Forget clean towels and accept that your trash cans have never been taken out during your stay.

The trend away from daily housekeeping — though largely initiated by COVID-19 — has become the norm at many hotels. Early in the pandemic, when transmission was more of a mystery, many hotels cut housekeeping services to reduce contact between strangers. But more than two years later, the household has still not returned.

Marriott policies vary by property, but housekeeping is generally only offered upon request, with all rooms automatically cleaned every six nights. The Hilton default is no longer daily cleaning at most properties unless requested. Walt Disney World has reduced service to light housekeeping every other day. This involves replacing towels and removing rubbish, but does not necessarily include services you might expect, such as making your bed.

Other hotels have schedules, like Hotel Solares in Santa Cruz, Calif.: Stays of three nights or less get no service, while stays of six nights or less get cleaned once. The hotel recommends that you leave garbage outside your door.

These service reductions are not always welcome.

“Customers don’t want to have to ask every time they need to empty their trash cans or replace their dirty towels,” said D. Taylor, international president of Unite Here – a US and Canadian labor union. hospitality – in a prepared statement. “Without cleaning, what stops a hotel from being just a more expensive Airbnb?”

WHY REDUCE HOTEL CLEANING?

In many cases, cutbacks may be more about money than security. For some hotels, there is not enough money to cover the cost. For others, it’s an opportunity to do more.

LABOR AND MATERIAL COSTS ARE HUGELY HIGH

The nationwide shortage of labor and materials has hit hotels particularly hard. For example, the recreation and hospitality industry lost 8.2 million jobs in March and April 2020, a 49% drop in employment, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While there has certainly been hope for re-hiring (travel-related jobs are now among the fastest growing sectors of late), the industry is still short of an estimated 1.5 million jobs at its pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, supply chain and inflation issues persist. Hotels reported a 79% increase in costs for cleaning and housekeeping supplies, according to a November 2021 American Hotel & Lodging Association survey of approximately 500 hotel operators.

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AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HIGHER PROFITS

Other hotel operators have explicitly stated that it is money.

“The work we’re doing right now across each of our brands…is to make them higher-margin businesses and create more labor efficiencies,” Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said during an interview. of an investor earnings call in February 2021. “When we come out of the crisis, these companies will have higher margins and be less labor intensive than before COVID.”

HOW TO CONTINUE CLEANING DURING YOUR HOLIDAYS

Find out before booking: Hotels usually publish cleaning procedures online. Look for pages on individual hotel websites titled something like “amenities” or “COVID-19 safety.” If the cleaning schedule isn’t up to par, consider booking elsewhere.

Book high-end hotels: Most high-end hotels are notably absent from this trend. Select Hilton brands, including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, still offer daily housekeeping. Most Four Seasons offer twice-daily housekeeping.

But that’s not always true. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — often considered Walt Disney World’s most lavish resort –– offers housekeeping only every other day, like all Disney resorts. Per-night rates range from $757 to $4,428, according to theme park data site TouringPlans.com.

Ask for a service : Of course, booking high-end hotels may be an unrealistic solution. But here’s another trick that can work even in budget hotels: ask nicely.

Be polite and the staff might take pity on your mess. After all, they don’t want the stinky smells of days-old seafood takeout emanating from your room, either. And the sand from the beach you’ve been tracking could easily spill out if it’s not vacuumed up quickly anyway.

For hotels where housekeeping is available upon request, you can usually request it upon check-in. Other hotels require you to apply daily.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Some economists have attributed a new word to this phenomenon where, rather than raising prices, companies reduce the services previously provided: skimpflation. Skimpflation could mean fewer staff, so longer lines or phone wait times. This could mean the end of free headphones on planes or bread service in restaurants.

And for many travelers, skimpflation in the form of the end of daily housekeeping has become a particularly unpleasant and – quite literally – messy trend.

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