Industry Update
Opinion Article 1 July 2020

New hotel cleaning protocols will cost hotels over $130k per year

Reducing the frequency of room servicing will be able to offset some initial cost, but is this sustainable in the long run?

By Soenke Weiss, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Optii Solutions Pty Ltd

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As new hospitality cleaning protocols are being released on a daily basis worldwide, we have worked with our hotel partners to calculate the cost of implementing the new cleaning requirements. Initial analysis shows that hotels will need to budget around $130,000 for a 250-room hotel, running at around 60% occupancy. However, measures such as cutting out stayover cleans or charging extra for additional ancillary services could be introduced to raise upwards of $110,000 in the same scenario, thereby largely offsetting these additional costs.

The industry expectation is that it will be the leisure sector that revives first, a long time before the business travel sector is expected to re-emerge. Before the pandemic, a standard leisure room took an average of 39.3 minutes to clean and costed $9.42 in terms of staff time. The data collected by our technology enabled us to determine that incorporating the new cleaning protocols will push the cleaning time for a standard leisure room up to 42.3 minutes to clean at a cost of $10.12.

The proprietary data collected across a wide range of hotel types shows that leisure rooms inherently take longer to clean than business traveler rooms, so this shift in market segmentation will immediately drive up cleaning costs. Added to this will be additional cleaning measures needed to ensure sanitization of the rooms. The overall payroll cost of the additional cleaning time alone will be approximately $62,000 and will also require hotels to add at least one additional full-time housekeeper to cope with the increased demands and additional cleaning needed in the public areas of the hotel. More staff will be needed on top of this if specialist cleaning equipment is deployed.

Hotels are also carefully considering the supply of in-room amenities such irons, hairdryers and additional pillows, and most will now mandate that these items will only be supplied to guests who request them from the front desk. This will put further pressure on service staff and will require additional staff to be hired to fulfil requests efficiently. We anticipate that hotels will also need to hire at least one full-time service team member to fulfil the additional service requirements. In total, the additional two staff combined with the added cleaning payroll costs will cost hotels on average around $132,000 per hotel, per annum.

However, if hotels decide to implement a strategy where stayover cleans are only done every fourth night for example, it will be possible for them to largely offset these additional costs. Minimising the amount of times that staff enter occupied rooms could well be preferable for the guest of the future too. Our calculations show that not performing 75% of stayover cleans (based on 60% occupancy of the hotel) could save around $110,730 per annum. Ancillary services such as additional deep cleans or stayover cleans could also be offered as at additional fee in the future to generate new revenue.

Hygiene guarantees are going to be one of the key factors that will enable the hospitality market to start successfully operating again as people seek guarantees for their safety when travelling. But there is no doubt that running a hotel post-pandemic is going to be more expensive in order to deliver these reassurances. Added to this, hotels are currently facing revenue battles on many fronts including very low consumer numbers, capped occupancy rates and restrictions on banqueting revenues, all resulting in a substantial RevPAR reduction.

In this environment, taking early action to gain a precise understanding of the budgets and best business strategy required to manage the extensive operational changes necessary will be absolutely imperative for financial success or even survival. A breakeven point has to occur at a much lower occupancy rate than in the past. Smart deployment of technology to effectively manage labor will also be critical.

Soenke Weiss

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    About Optii Solutions

    Optii, headquartered in Austin, TX and with offices in London and Brisbane, is a hotel operations solution that leverages smarter technologies such as artificial intelligence, analytics, messaging and mobility to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of housekeeping and service delivery departments. Optii operates in real-time and allows hotels to streamline operations, reduce costs and enhance the guest experience in proven and tangible ways, without requiring capital expenditure and complex integrations. Optii is backed by Thayer Ventures and used by hotels across the world including La Cantera Resort & Spa and The Don Cesar in the United States, Okada Manilla Resort & Casino, Le Meridien, IHG and more. For further information about Optii Solutions, see:

    Soenke Weiss
    Chief Strategy Officer
    Phone: +1 512 256 6611
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