Before the pandemic, one of the biggest debates within the housekeeping department was over whether or not to allow guests to opt out from this core service. The consensus was: it depends.

For urban hotels catering largely to the mid-week corporate guests, it made perfect sense to let businesspeople exchange room cleaning for a meal voucher or other amenity coupon. After all, this segment was known for rarely ever using the room, so building an opt-out program benefited the hotel through cost savings and the guest through greater consumption of other onsite services (or, in some cases, bonus loyalty points). At the full-service, luxury and resort end of the spectrum, however, daily housekeeping often acts as a hallmark of the brand, with opting out not even open for discussion.

One of the enduring legacies of the pandemic will be a shift in how customers consider housekeeping and what’s deemed safe. Even after we’re all vaccinated, limiting contact will still be in effect and a sensible way to give guests peace of mind is to ensure no one else enters their rooms during the entirety of their stays (without their express permission). While there are reasonable limits to this, given the opposing security risk of letting a room go unchecked beyond a certain threshold, the general thrust for contactless guest experiences will inevitably mean fewer rooms cleaned each day.

Some guests will want the hotel to be completely hands off as they navigate all communications through a digital, and distanced, interface. Others, though, will want the full show. Whether out of the desire for immaculately clean spaces or only for a glimmer of interaction with another human, many guests will yearn for the opportunity to have housekeeping on-demand.
This brings us to attribute-based sales (ABS), which is poised to be a key upselling tool in the decade ahead. At its core, ABS for hotels inscribes the use of every feature — in-room, on-property or through a third party — to incrementally build revenues on a per-guest basis. The encapsulating buzz term for this is TRevPAR — or Total Revenue Per Available Room. For some hotels looking to optimize costs in the next normal, housekeeping may be yet another service that can be sold separately from the room to heighten TRevPAR.

Imagine you’re one half of a couple looking for a romantic, seven-night vacation to a tropical resort for some time late in Q4 2021. You choose to book direct, then, within the reservation engine, after you’ve selected your room and picked out some dining spots, you can decide what days during your stay you want room attendants to enter for a proper cleaning. It could be six times; it could be zero. This depends on each individual guest’s attitude towards contact and any continued fears of COVID-19, but many will gladly opt-in if the surcharge per cleaning isn’t too egregious.

In this way, you’re not only opening the door to a new revenue vehicle, but deepening the personalization of the onsite experience by facilitating more customization. Of course, the technology has to be there to support such an opt-in system, as you’ll need a booking engine that allows for amenity upsells within an appealing user interface, as well as a strong PMS to support the new data flowing into the guest folio and housekeeping-optimization software.

Thinking broader, these three aspects of your tech stack are ones you should already be investigating as a response to Coronavirus and as a means of boosting TRevPAR in other ways, such as increasing pre-arrival restaurant or spa utilization. With housekeeping opt-in as one post-pandemic consideration under its banner, ABS may help you protect your guest-satisfaction scores while allowing you to recover profitability — even when maximum occupancy cannot be attained due to all the prolonged restrictions still in place.

Adam and Larry Mogelonsky are partners in Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. Larry focuses on asset management, sales and operations, while Adam specializes in hotel technology and marketing. You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com or Adam at adam@hotelmogel.com to discuss hotel business challenges.

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