While opt-in housekeeping used to be associated mostly with limited-service hotels, it has gained significant traction in recent years.
Large international hotel chains lead the way in implementing this new service option. In the summer of 2021, Hilton International moved to an opt-in model for daily housekeeping at its non-luxury properties in the United States. A Hilton spokesperson explained this decision: “Our guests have told us that they have varying levels of comfort with someone entering their rooms after they have checked in."
We analysed whether our opt-out housekeeping deals appeal to travellers and took a closer look at the benefits this new flexible service model brings hoteliers. In fact, our opt-out housekeeping deals helped our customers save $20,190 on cleaning in 2021.
From saving on cleaning costs to giving guests more flexibility and freedom to choose, discover advantages both opt-in and opt-out housekeeping can offer your hotel.
What is the Difference Between Opt-out and Opt-in Housekeeping Models?
In the past, daily housekeeping was part of most hotels’ standard service offerings. It was factored into the room rate, and the easiest way to refuse it was to use the DND sign.
But then came the pandemic. Guests no longer felt comfortable letting staff enter their rooms. Hotels bear higher cleaning costs due to new hygiene regulations. The proliferation of opt-in and opt-out housekeeping was the result.
In both cases, guests can choose whether they want a daily room cleaning during their stay.
Opt-out housekeeping is similar to the previously established standard. Here, the room is straightened up every day unless guests specifically decline the service. Many hotels use pre-arrival emails or the check-in process to inform guests of this option. At some properties, guests may receive a small bonus, like a drink at the bar, for skipping the clean-up.
Opt-in housekeeping means that the daily tidy-up is no longer automatically included. If a traveller wants their hotel room to be serviced, they need to deliberately opt in, possibly at a surcharge. Again, you can settle these details pre-arrival or during check-in.
What are the Pros and Cons of Opt-out and Opt-in Housekeeping?
As you can imagine, a more flexible approach to housekeeping can have many advantages. Read on to see what you can gain from it and what to watch out for during implementation.
Pros of Opt-out and Opt-in Housekeeping
Let’s take a look at the positives first.
1. Lower cleaning costs
Like most other hotels, you’ve probably seen your cleaning costs go up since the pandemic’s onset.
According to data from Optii Solutions, a hotel operations platform, the average cost to service a standard leisure room came to $9.42 pre-Covid. Today, this has grown by over 7% to $10.12. The cost is lower for business traveller rooms which cost an average of $7.60 to clean. However, given the lower number of corporate guests these days, you likely have a larger ratio of the higher-cost leisure bookings.
For a 250-key property at 60% occupancy, these factors can add over $60,000 to annual cleaning costs.
Flexible housekeeping models can help you balance this out or even reduce your overall cost. Optii’s data suggests that skipping 75% of stayover cleans at 60% occupancy could save over $100,000 per year. On top of that, using opt-in housekeeping to charge for this ancillary service could generate $100,000 or more for our 250-room sample hotel
2. A solution to the hospitality staff shortage
It’s hardly a secret that the hotel industry has been struggling with an unprecedented labour shortage after the mass layoffs of 2020. Applicants seeking higher pay and new regulations demanding more cleaning time per room have put many hotels in a bind.
Adopting opt-in housekeeping is a way to address this challenge. While it may not attract qualified new room attendants, it can reduce the number of rooms to be cleaned every day. This both cuts your cost and lightens the burden on your current staff. As a result, there’s a lower risk of overworking your now smaller team, which makes it more likely they'll stay.
That brings us to the next point
3. Increased flexibility
Having a less cramped daily cleaning schedule leaves you more time to work on optimising your operation. You can also react quickly and effectively to last-minute requests, ensuring your guests have an ideal experience. Finally, you can use the extra time on your hands for training and even be more flexible when it comes to staff rotas
4. Carbon footprint reduction
Guests care more about sustainability today and expect hotels to play their part in the fight against climate change. That means doing more than asking travellers to reuse their towels. Foregoing a daily cleaning service has a massive impact on a hotel stay’s carbon footprint. Just think of the water, cleaning products and electricity you can save.
This is where you can make your guests part of the solution. Highlight the environmental benefits of skipping daily housekeeping. Show how this can make their trip greener without them having to lift a finger.
Prove that you mean business by collaborating with an environmental foundation. This allows you to reinvest some of your savings in offsetting carbon emissions or supporting reforestation projects.
Hotels for Trees is one such partner. They plant a tree for every day of skipped housekeeping. This shows guests their choices are having a long-term positive impact. It also highlights that you’re not just in it for the bottom line but are genuinely interested in greener operations.
Our data is proof 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 went for one of these options, 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
5. Increased guest satisfaction
Flexible housekeeping models appeal to more than just your eco-conscious guests. They’re also appealing to people who want their room to themselves.
Today many guests feel less comfortable with someone entering their rooms after checking in. They see it as a potential security risk and prefer to minimise it. Of course, some travellers also just want their privacy and feel disturbed by staff knocking on the door.
Either way, these guests appreciate the chance to decline daily housekeeping services. For them, it’s an easy way to customise their stay and feel that you respect their preferences. Unsurprisingly, that leads to higher levels of guest satisfaction.
6. In-person contact minimisation
Our final pro ties in with the previous point. In-person service still brings the risk of infection with it. Reducing the time staff spends in a room and interacting with guests face-to-face also minimises the chance of someone falling sick. This is good news for both your team and your guests.
Cons of Opt-out and Opt-in Housekeeping
Removing a standard service like daily housekeeping and potentially charging extra for it may rub some guests the wrong way. There may even be a fear that overall service quality and value for money are declining.
The good thing is that you can easily address these concerns. Be open and upfront about the changes you’re implementing. Highlight the benefits your new opt-in housekeeping model will have for guests. That could include a reduced room rate, more privacy and enjoying a greener stay.
And of course, it’s important to emphasise that a cleaning service is always available on demand. Again, let travellers know if this comes at an extra cost while booking. That way, you avoid unpleasant surprises and complaints about your new approach.
How to Seamlessly Introduce Opt-in/Opt-out Housekeeping at Your Hotel
As you’ve seen now, opt-in and opt-out programs have many benefits that go beyond simply reducing costs. It’s also about adopting sustainable practices and creating a more customised guest experience.
Yes, there may be some resistance to this new model, especially in the luxury hotels and resorts segment. However, guests today are showing more interest in optimising every aspect of their stay and adapting it to their wishes.
With today’s travellers expecting a personalised experience, upselling and sending pre-arrival deals isn’t about nickel-and-diming guests. It’s about putting them in control and letting them cherry pick their favourite deals or services. Along with this new freedom, hoteliers can make their guests smile and create a buzz around their brand even before check-in.
Opt-out housekeeping lends itself to this perfectly. Propose a cool perk for those who opted out of daily room cleaning, and you’ll see more people taking your deal.
Oaky makes it straightforward for hotels to set up opt-out deals while making it easy for guests to book them.
See how Oaky can help
Not sure what to offer in exchange for skipping housekeeping? Here are some examples that have earned our partner hotels some fabulous feedback:
Eat Bitterballen & save the planet! - The Hague Teleport Hotel
GET A FREE EUR 10 VOUCHER and help SAVE the Planet! - AX Hotels Malta
Save the planet & get a free breakfast! - The Hague Teleport Hotel
Free Beer to save the planet (minimum stay of two nights) - Diana Hotels Collection
Save the Planet! Get a free Dopper - Boutiquehotel Staats
Of course, you can get creative here. How about offering something that’s unique to your hotel, your region or the current season? Maybe throw in some extra loyalty points for guests to use during their next stay? The sky's the limit!
Finally, you can also consider using an upselling platform like Oaky to promote opt-in housekeeping. If a reservation comes without daily cleaning, you can offer guests the chance to book it as a free or paid add-on.
As Optii’s data has shown, there is serious revenue potential in this approach. It lets guests choose which services they want to pay to enjoy. Again, the key is to be clear about rate inclusions and potential add-on costs from the get-go.
Now, it looks like this new and flexible housekeeping model is here to stay as hoteliers and guests alike come to appreciate its many advantages.
What about you? Are you thinking about moving on to an opt-in or opt-out model?