- By Abby Ellin The New York Times
The question came at check-in: Did I want to forgo housekeeping for the two days I was staying at the Flamingo in Las Vegas in exchange for a $10 a day food and beverage credit?
The clerk repeated himself. Some guests, he said, didn’t want to be bothered during their stay. So the Flamingo, along with nearly all of its sister properties in Vegas (it is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment), decided last summer to offer guests a voucher in exchange for declining a room cleaning.
I had never heard of hotels eliminating housekeeping altogether, but more are doing so while extending rebates, hotel points and other perks for those who accept the offer. It’s a smart business move, industry experts say.
“A lot of hotels were becoming more aware of what consumers like,” said Adam Weissenberg, the global leader of travel and hospitality for Deloitte in Parsippany, New Jersey. “They received criticism from younger travelers. ‘This is ridiculous that they’re changing my towels and sheets every day. I don’t need that, it does harm the environment.'”
According to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers, 2017-2018, 13 percent of U.S. travelers say that they have selected a travel service provider specifically for environmental considerations, up from 11 percent in 2014.
Thirty-eight percent said they would be willing to pay more for a travel service provider who demonstrates environmental responsibility, a 13 percent increase from 2014.
“What we’ve seen fairly steadily over the course of five-plus years among travelers is that there’s a general sense and appreciation for anything related to sustainability and environmental issues,” said Craig Compagnone, senior vice president for business strategyat MMGY.
The thinking is that eradicating housekeeping is better for the environment, and for the hotels’ bottom line. After all, they are saving money and water by not washing towels and bedding, and they are not sending as many chemicals into the sewer system.
“So that’s better from a water perspective,” said Jeanne Marie Varney, who teaches courses on sustainability at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. “You get the benefit of not using cleaning chemicals in the rest of the room. Not running vacuum cleaners saves energy.”
Starwood launched its initiative at the Sheraton Seattle in 2008. Guests who declined housekeeping service for up to three consecutive days received a choice of either 500 Starpoints (in its Starwood Preferred Guests program) or a $5 food and beverage gift card.
While leisure guests occasionally chose this option, frequent business travelers “ate it up,” said James Gancos, the chief executive and founder of the Guestbook, a loyalty program for independent boutique hotels, and the former hotel manager at the Sheraton Seattle.
That program became Make a Green Choice, which Starwood implemented for all of its brands, except the St. Regis, after Marriott International acquired Starwood in 2016.
The company implemented similar programs in about 20 of its 30 brands in North America, including Marriott, JW Marriott, Westin, Sheraton, Delta, Renaissance, W, Courtyard, and Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Under the Your Choice and Luxury of Choice programs at full-service hotels, guests are eligible for 500 Marriott Rewards points per day. Delta’s GreenSTAY offers guests the option to receive 250 Marriott Rewards points or have a tree planted.
Some smaller hotels have also started doing it.
The Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa in California offers a $5 food and beverage credit, and the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington, offers guests a $5 resort credit per day that can be used at its coffee shop, spa or fitness center.
The hotel Bardessono in Yountville, California, will plant one herb a day per guest in an on-site organic garden. And the Ridgeline Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is introducing a free drink incentive for each night guests stay and decline housekeeping.
Other hotels say they simply don’t want to bother guests.
“Our hotel team noticed that guests didn’t want their relaxation to be interrupted and don’t want to feel like they’re on a routine while vacationing, so we offer housekeeping by request only,” said Debbie Pribly, the general manager of the Moorings Village in Islamorada, Florida. “This allows us to adhere to the guest’s schedule, offering a cleaning only when it’s convenient for them rather than convenient for the hotel.”