Optional Hotel Housekeeping: Radical Concept or Great Idea?

Optional Hotel Housekeeping: Radical Concept or Great Idea?

When you offer travelers something they like over and over, or just about anything repeatedly, they will come to expect it.

That has certainly been the case with towel and linen reuse programs. According to the recently released American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2010 Lodging Survey, approximately 90 percent of lodging establishments in the United States now offer this type of program -- up from 52 percent of properties in 2004.

What I am wondering is whether the day will come when guests also expect to have the option to opt out of housekeeping entirely -- and be rewarded for it.

What evidence do I have that this could happen? I spoke with Jennifer Bauchner, director, Rooms and Sustainability, North America Operations, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., and she told me more than 150 Starwood properties now participate in the company’s Make a Green Choice program.

“It is widely used at Sheraton and Westin hotels,” Bauchner said. “We are continuing to expand it. Many of our loyal guests are coming to expect this.”

For those of you not familiar with Make a Green Choice, it gives guests the option of not only opting out of towel and linen replacement but also all housekeeping for a day. In exchange for their participation, they are rewarded with Starwood loyalty program points or given a $5 gift card to use at an on-site hotel restaurant.

Sage Hospitality just launched its own version of Make a Green Choice called Green Choice. According to Bryan Boyce, director of Energy Operations for the Denver-based company, 18 of the hotels Sage manages now participate in Green Choice and the plan is to expand it to the company’s more than 50 hotels. That means some Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group and Radisson hotels will also be participating.

Idea Hatched in Hawaii

Make a Green Choice was launched first at the Sheraton Kauai Resort by James Gancos. He is now the general manager of the W Istanbul in Turkey. Gancos came up with a great idea -- one that is good for the environment. Hotels that participate not only reduce labor costs but also water, sewer, energy, chemical and linen expenses.

There have been isolated complaints from housekeepers who have been unhappy about their reduced work loads or the fact that they have to spend additional time cleaning rooms that have not been cleaned for several days.

Sage’s Boyce says at his company’s hotels housekeepers may clean fewer rooms per day but they are just given other tasks to fill out the work day. If the program results in more guests eating in a hotel’s own restaurants, additional jobs could actually be created.

To educate guests about Make a Green Choice, Starwood is having its associates explain the program at check-in or before they arrive.

What are your thoughts about Make a Green Choice and Green Choice?

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News, where the original version of this post appeared. He can be reached at [email protected].