November 29, 2022

A sign of the times? – Hotels are ditching daily housekeeping services

Mandalay Bay is a casino hotel located on the Las Vegas Strip.
Credit – Kris1123, CC SA 3.0.

One of the amenities most travelers are used to when staying in a hotel – daily housekeeping – is gone. This can be blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, yet even as life returns to a semblance of normal, daily housekeeping is fast disappearing.

When the Covid pandemic first hit in early 2020, more than 142 countries instituted complete or partial border closures, with 91 percent of the world’s population restricted from travel in March 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

The pandemic resulted in the forced layoff of housekeepers in hotels worldwide, but more than two years later, housekeeping still hasn’t returned. Some industry insiders say this is due to customer preference, according to the Associated Press.

However, others say it is more likely that hotel chains are trying to increase their profits, especially with people beginning to travel again. But labor shortages still exist, causing room prices to skyrocket.

Whatever the reason; this has allowed hotels to cut the number of housekeepers at a time when many of the mostly immigrant women who take those jobs are still reeling from lost work during coronavirus shutdowns.

According to CBS News, Marriott’s policies vary by property, but housekeeping is usually offered only upon request, with all rooms cleaned automatically every sixth night.

Ray Bennett, chief global officer for Marriott, told CNBC that “more and more of [Marriott’s] guests have actually asked that [housekeeping doesn’t] come in their room.”

At Hilton hotels in the US, housekeeping will only be done on the fifth day, unless guests opt-in to additional housekeeping services to compensate for the lack of housekeeping staff, reports Business Insider.

Walt Disney World reduced service to light housekeeping every other day. That entails towel replacement and trash removal but doesn’t necessarily include services you might expect, like getting your bed made.

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

The sad truth? The leisure and hospitality industry lost 8.2 million jobs in March and April 2020 which is an employment decline of 49 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

And while there was rehiring in the leisure and hospitality industry post-pandemic, the industry is still about 1.5 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels.