Is Housekeeping On-Demand Here to Stay?

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Housekeeping jobs at risk

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has become the first major hotel chain to cease offering a daily housekeeping service and move permanently to an opt-in housekeeping on-demand system for guests.

The update to Hilton’s CleanStay policy went into effect on July 5, and invites guests to tailor their housekeeping services to their individual comfort level. Daily housekeeping will no longer take place automatically, and must be scheduled by calling the front desk. Additional amenities such as linens and toiletries will also be made available on request, and will be delivered in protective packaging and placed at the guest room door.

On the fifth day of an extended stay, guest rooms will automatically receive a full cleaning, and all rooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guest stays, but the brand will no longer place “cleaned and sealed” stickers on the hotel room door after the room has been cleaned, as has been its protocol during the pandemic.

The removal of daily housekeeping only applies to Hilton’s non-luxury brands, and its Waldorf-Astoria, LXR and Conrad properties will continue to offer daily housekeeping, as will Hilton resorts in Asia Pacific.

“We’re listening to the needs of our guests at the local level, so we’ve made specific adjustments to these standards region by region to align with their preferences at this stage of the recovery,” said Phil Cordell, senior vice president of brand development at Hilton, in an interview with USA Today.

On-demand housekeeping became a staple of hotel stays during the pandemic, as contactless experiences were prioritized for guest safety. Following Hilton’s move to make the change permanent, it is anticipated that other hotel brands may also adopt such measures in an effort to emerge from the health crisis with lower costs and a smaller workforce.

On a call with investors in November, reported by the Washington Post, Jim Risoleo, the CEO of Host Hotels, indicated that the industry was moving towards “opt-in to housekeeping services as opposed to opt-out going forward… And it’s going to vary on, frankly, the type of property we have and the personal profile of the customer.”

However, a potential shift away from daily housekeeping within the hotel industry has raised concerns among workers and labor leaders about the impact on the industry’s labor sector. Hotel employment is down more than 25 percent from where it was before the pandemic, with the loss of more than 500,000 jobs.

A report by the labor union Unite Here in early June estimated that the loss of daily room cleanings could equal the loss of at least 181,000 cleaning jobs, which is around 39 percent of all cleaning jobs in the hotel industry.

“The hotel industry is trying to get back to full occupancy without ever bringing back its full workforce,” said D. Taylor, president of Unite Here, in the report. “Housekeeping jobs are the backbone of the service economy, and taking these jobs away means that many working families and especially communities of color might never recover.”

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