As hoteliers begin to welcome travelers back, the extra sanitation steps and cleanliness standards necessary to keep guests and employees safe will be more costly than owners and operators anticipate. Maintaining impeccable cleanliness, executing quality food and beverage and delivering hospitable guest experiences have always been bedrock operating principles that hotel managers must now reinvent in order to mitigate the potential $9 billion incremental expense impact estimated by PostScript, hotelAVE’s operational efficiency division. Simply put, hotels will need to reimagine many fundamental standards and practices if they expect to recover profitably and meet guest’s changing expectations at the same time.
Amending Stayover Service Is Key to Maintaining Neutral Room Attendant Payroll
For owners and operators with an average length of stay (LOS) over 1.9, and who can successfully reduce the frequency of stayover service to every third night or longer, hotelAVE’s Post Script team estimates a neutral impact to room attendant labor expense. If LOS is below 1.9 nights and/or stayover service hovers at the pre-COVID-19 rate, those hotels are likely to see an incremental increase in total payroll. By analyzing thousands of hours of observational work with room attendants from prior efficiency projects, hotelAVE’s PostScript team estimates that the average hotel housekeeper will incur an additional 5-7 minutes of cleaning time per room to address the new and necessary cleaning standards.
High-touch and non-porous surfaces like door handles, light switches, lamps, clock radios, remote controls and phones will all require additional attention. Meanwhile, the processes to remove and launder terry and bedding will be different, as will the application of electrostatic equipment to spray soft goods and other hard-to-clean surfaces such as closet interiors.
Public Area Cleaning Will Increase
Public spaces will also require up to a 50% increase in labor in order to cover high-touch areas with increased frequency. Along with increased cleaning, hoteliers are also looking to modify traditional services and amenities in order to mitigate risk, such as reducing the footprint of the public areas, eliminating lobby coffee service, and modifying complimentary breakfast buffets.
Increased Operating Supply Costs
Expect to see a 30% hike in related cleaning supplies driven by greater cleaning frequency and potentially more expensive disinfectant products. Among other items, the addition of in-room personal sanitizers, single-use collateral (unless hotels create an app or QR code) and costly PPE changes (required for each room cleaning) could cost the average hotel an additional $3.00 per occupied room (POR). To help combat these increases, Post Script recommends reducing in-room terry pars, scaling back bath amenities and decluttering rooms of collateral, compendiums and other infrequently-used items to reduce cleaning and restocking requirements.
One Time Re-opening Expenses
In addition to ongoing PPE purchases, the average 150-room hotel should budget approximately $30,000 on Covid-19 and social distancing supplies, including hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass barriers, and newly needed signage and floor markers to ensure proper guest distancing. Employee training, personal thermometers and an ample supply of hand-held electrostatic sprayers will be as important as vacuums, but at four times the cost.
Adapting to Changing Consumer Behavior Also Requires Creative Restructuring and Reinvention
Hotel operations are fundamentally changing as result of this pandemic, and the ability to create staffing plans and job classifications that reflect the new reality will be a major differentiator as hotels try to reopen, bring associates back, and lose less money.
How will the arrival experience change with your front desk? What is the role of the bell staff if they can’t touch bags? How many managers will be needed and when? Will the consumer mandate more electronic interaction, increasing demand for mobile check-in and other technology solutions? When is the right time to open F&B outlets? What will the menu look like?
Everyone should ask these questions, but the answers aren’t universal due to varying location, wage rates, length of stay, bed mix, historical DND percentage, cost to launder, in-room linen par levels, guest amenities, etc.
Rather than assuming that the new cleaning and social distancing protocols will require additional staff and operating costs, asset managers and operational efficiency experts can help quantify a customized solution for each hotel that not only mitigates additional costs but also aligns with expected changing consumer behaviors.
Note: All math in this article is based on the average hotel in the US (150 rooms with a room size of 350 SF, a 60/40 king to DD bed mix, 66% occupancy and 1.8 day LOS).
About hotelAVE and Postscript
hotelAVE is the industry’s leading hotel asset management firm with over $5.5B under management. Founded by Michelle Russo, we bring over 450 combined years of hotel consulting and hospitality industry experience and innovation, to provide proactive hotel asset management services for over 7,500 properties. Our operational efficiency division, PostScript, leverages extensive data and its proprietary database of thousands of “time to complete” datapoints of various tasks to implement best of class operating structures with operators.