Hotels Plan Capacity and Cleaning Processes

June 29, 2020
Hotels Plan Capacity and Cleaning Processes

Hilton partners with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic as it repositions its strategy around the core competencies of “clean and safe.”

Other hotels are similarly redesigning strategies and services to meet the return of travelers in a post-coronavirus age.

In this new world of hospitality management, cleanliness is likely to be the customer’s biggest priority, and hotels are preparing to meet those needs in ways never before imagined.

Traditional hotel staples like breakfast buffets, make-your-own waffles, and freshly baked welcome cookies may be replaced with “to go” offerings in sealed bags or packaged cookies provided in hotel rooms.  Cleaning technologies like electrostatic sprayers that use hospital-grade disinfectants and ultraviolet light technology may be use to clean public areas as well as rooms.  Restrictions on the number of riders on elevators and digital keys that allow guests to enter rooms using their cellphones are likely to also become the norm.

Video Spotlight: 

This post is based on the LA Times article, After coronavirus: Your next hotel stay may look like this, by Christopher Reynolds, April 28, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Realistic Reflections

Discussion Questions:

1.  How will new hotel policies affect capacity planning and occupancy rates?

Guidance: Right now, about four out of five hotel rooms are empty according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.  As hotels reopen, they may require that rooms sit unused for a period of time before new occupants stay in them.  Airbnb already instituted this policy on April 27, 2020, and hosts must leave rooms vacant for a minimum of 24 hours before new guests can stay.

Depending on how long the typical stay is for a hotel as well as how long a waiting period is required, this could significantly reduce its effective capacity, but the hotel must still pay all of its fixed costs, making it much more difficult to stay profitable.

2. What impact might new policies have on service capacity, particularly in terms of housekeeping staff?

Guidance: The same AHLA report also found that about 70% of hotel workers are now out of work. It is hard to know whether more or fewer workers will be needed as guests begin to return.

As hotels employ new cleaning programs, some activities will increase.  Examples include the number of times a day high-touch public areas are cleaned as well as the depth and thoroughness of cleaning that takes place in the rooms. Some hotels may also employ new technology which may require less human participation in the cleaning process.  Furthermore, some hotels are considering not cleaning rooms during customer stays, but only having housekeeping staff enter and clean once guests depart.

It is unclear what overall impact this would have on the number of workers (service capacity) required to maintain these new standards, though the increased focus on cleaning and safety might suggest that more workers will eventually be needed.  Meanwhile, having meals, such as breakfast, prepacked and possibly even delivered to guest rooms might also increase the number of food prep and other servers needed to create and distribute the items.  Front desks may be staffed by workers who can greet and welcome customers, but some hotels envision broadening existing systems that allow guests to check in on their phones and then use their phones as keys to access their rooms, potentially eliminating the need to interact with an employee to check in.


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