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What’s the Price of an Uncleaned Hotel Room?

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“It makes, in some ways, operations more efficient,” she said, “but at what cost?”

Some hotels have said that they are following the lead of consumers, many of whom were in favor of eliminating daily housekeeping during the pandemic, according to a survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association last August. Hilton announced in July that it would make daily housekeeping optional for most of its U.S. hotels, with the exception of its luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad. And Julie Rollend, Marriott’s director of public relations, said that company was leaving it up to guests to “elect their preferred cadence of housekeeping services during their stay.”

“Throughout the pandemic, we discovered guests enjoyed the flexibility of on-demand housekeeping services and have varying levels of comfort with someone entering their rooms after they have checked in,” Meg Ryan, Hilton’s senior director of corporate affairs, said in an email. She added that the hotel still offers room cleaning upon request, and that “the single biggest challenge for the industry right now is the availability of labor.”

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Christopher Anderson, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management, said that post-pandemic there is “more acceptance of reduced in-stay attention” among consumers, and that he could see an a-la-carte model similar to that adopted by many airlines becoming more popular, in which guests can choose the services for which they are willing to pay.

“I think as we reduce the actual labor, then firms can operationally deliver upon what they can deliver via technology, and then it now becomes a win-win,” Mr. Anderson said. “Consumers get more of what they want as far as selection, and then if costs are reduced and prices are adjusted accordingly, again, that’s a further win.”

But some employees say they would be the losers. A recent report by Unite Here, a hotel workers’ union, found that eliminating daily housekeeping as the industry standard would cost at least 180,000 jobs, held overwhelmingly by women of color, and $4.8 billion in lost wages.



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