A sign of the times? — Hotels are dropping daily housekeeping services

Photo of the lobby of the Atlantis hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. — © Digital Journal

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, but even though life is returning to some semblance of normalcy, daily housekeeping is quickly disappearing.

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

The pandemic has led to the forced layoff of housekeepers in hotels around the world, but more than two years later housekeeping has still not returned. Some industry insiders say this is due to customer preference, according to the Associated Press.

However, others say hotel chains are more likely to try to boost profits, especially with people starting to travel again. But labor shortages still exist, causing room prices to skyrocket.

Whatever the reason; this has allowed hotels to reduce the number of housekeepers at a time when many of the mostly immigrant women who fill these jobs are still reeling from job loss during the coronavirus shutdowns.

According CBS News, Marriott policies vary by property, but housekeeping is generally only offered upon request, with all rooms automatically cleaned every six nights.

Ray Bennett, Marriott Global Director, told CNBC that “more and more [Marriott’s] the guests actually requested that [housekeeping doesn’t] come to their room.

At Hilton hotels in the U.S., housekeeping won’t be done until the fifth day, unless guests opt for additional housekeeping services to compensate for the lack of housekeeping staff, reports Business Insider.

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.

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.

The sad truth? The recreation and hospitality industry lost 8.2 million jobs in March and April 2020, representing a 49% decline in employment, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And while there have been rehires in the leisure and hospitality industry post-pandemic, the industry is still around 1.5 million short of jobs at pre-pandemic levels.