What used to seem impossible is now becoming an accepted solution at many hotels worldwide. The talk is of opt-in and opt-out housekeeping. Reasons for this include the ongoing staffing shortage many properties face, as well as travellers’ preference not to let staff enter their rooms.
Big players like Hilton International have reacted to this by implementing flexible housekeeping models at several brands. This development brings up an interesting question: which benefits do opt-in and opt-out housekeeping schemes have for both hotels and guests? And should you implement this at your property?
Opt-out and opt-in housekeeping: what’s the difference?
Daily housekeeping used to be a fixed part of the stay and the room rate. The few guests who didn’t want it kept the staff out with the DND sign. Once the pandemic hit, more travellers started to skip daily cleaning to minimise their risk of exposure. Hoteliers quickly realised this was a boon since it created the chance to save on the now increased cost of cleaning a room. As a result, opt-in and opt-out housekeeping models began spreading.
They both let travellers decide if they want the cleaning service while they’re in-house or not. However, opt-out housekeeping is closer to the past standard since the service is included unless the guest refuses it. You can inform travellers about this option via pre-arrival emails or when they arrive. You may even consider sweetening the deal with a little thank you gift for opting out. Opt-in housekeeping on the other hand means that the clean-up is no longer included by default. Guests have to specifically ask for their room to be straightened up and may have to pay extra for it. If you go for this option, inform travellers at the time of booking and again at check-in to avoid disappointment.
Benefits of opt-out and opt-in housekeeping
Adopting a more responsive approach to housekeeping can benefit both travellers and hotels. Here you’ll find some of the main advantages you can expect from a flexible model.
1. Reduced cleaning costs
Recent research by a hotel operation platform shows a 7% increase in cleaning costs compared to pre-pandemic times. They also show that the higher ratio of leisure vs. corporate guests drives up costs as transient rooms usually cost slightly more to clean. Combined, this can result in over $60,000 in extra cleaning costs per year for a 260-room hotel running on 60% occupancy.
Flexible housekeeping can counter this effect or even lower your overall cleaning cost. The research results revealed that you can save $100,000 per year if your average occupancy is 60% and 75% of your stay-over guests skip the daily tidy-up. Using the opt-in model to charge travellers for cleaning services can bring in another $100,000 at this sample property.
2. A way to cope with the labour shortage
Struggling to staff their housekeeping team and having to keep up with stricter hygiene regulations is challenging for many hotels today.
Opt-in housekeeping can help you navigate this situation since it cuts down the number of rooms that need straightening up every day. This reduces your cost and takes a load off your team’s shoulders. Consequently, you won’t stretch your small team too thin, and they’ll be more likely to stick around.
3. Carbon footprint reduction
Travellers are becoming increasingly aware of their trips’ impact on the environment and want to minimise it. Opting out of daily housekeeping is a big step towards reducing a hotel stay’s carbon footprint. After all, this saves water, electricity and cleaning products. Draw your guests’ attention to this aspect and show that you want to help them travel greener through opt-out housekeeping.
Prove that you’re committed to sustainability by supporting conservation or reforestation projects. Donate part of your savings to relevant foundations to show guests that their decision to skip the cleaning service has a direct impact.
Data from Oaky, a hyper-personalised upselling software, proves that this approach works. In 2021, 98 hotels used Oaky to suggest opt-out deals for housekeeping to their guests. In total, these offers made up 6.37% of all promoted deals. 1,995 travellers used the offer, each one resulting in roughly $10.12. of saved cost. That also means roughly one in 15 guests chose not to have their room cleaned daily.
4. Higher guest satisfaction
Making your housekeeping service a choice is also good for travellers who want complete privacy and more security. They may feel more comfortable opting out of daily cleaning to keep staff from entering their room or disturbing them throughout the day.
Giving them the chance to easily opt out of housekeeping is a great way to let them customise their stay. As you can imagine, this can lead to higher levels of guest satisfaction.
The risk of adopting opt-out and opt-in housekeeping
At first, some guests may not be thrilled by the idea of making housekeeping optional. This simply reflects a massive change to a well-established standard. When implementing a flexible service model, communicate about it openly and in detail. Highlight that the overall service level will remain the same and room cleaning will always be available. If you decide to charge extra for this, say so upfront. Share this information during the booking process and pre-arrival so there are no surprises, and everyone is on the same page.
Implementing opt-in/opt-out housekeeping at your property
Given the many benefits of opt-in and opt-out housekeeping, you’re probably ready to implement it at your hotel. It’s an opportunity to give guests more flexibility to customise their stay and pay only for the services they truly need or value. On top of that, you can create offers around housekeeping that make your guests smile and stick in their minds.
If you want to make it fun for travellers to opt out of the daily tidy-up, why not offer them something of value in exchange?
Here are some examples of what other properties have done successfully:
- The Hague Teleport Hotel offers a choice of free Bitterballen as a bar snack or breakfast
- AX Hotels Malta give out 10-Euro vouchers for other services at the hotel
- Diana Hotels Collection serve guests a free beer
You can also come up with something else here. Perhaps you have a signature snack, drink, or service you can promote as a stand-in for housekeeping. There’s no limit to what you can try here!
Using an upselling platform is the ideal way to offer guests such deals. Your guests can have fun browsing and can take the offer in a few simple clicks. And it’s easy for you to test different options and see which ones travellers like best.
Of course, you can also use an upselling tool to suggest your opt-in housekeeping service. When guests reserve without booking daily cleaning, you can offer this as a paid or free extra. This approach can have a strong positive impact on your topline as it puts guests in control of their stay and allows them to choose the customisations they value. But don’t forget to be upfront about potential extra fees.
Then nothing will stand in the way of a successful flexible housekeeping model that works for both your hotel and your guests.