New study calculates cost of post-pandemic housekeeping

Hotel operations platform Optii Solutions has been working with hotel partners to calculate the cost of implementing the new cleaning requirements. Initial analysis suggests hotels will need to budget around $130,000 for a 250-room hotel operating at around 60 percent occupancy.  

However, measures such as cutting out daily cleanings or charging extra for additional ancillary services could help raise upwards of $110,000 in the same scenario, largely offsetting these additional costs. 

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The Cost of Cleaning

Before the pandemic, a standard leisure room took an average of 39.3 minutes to clean and cost $9.42 in terms of staff time, based on a guestroom accommodating one or two people.

According to Optii, incorporating the new cleaning protocols will push the cleaning time for a standard leisure room up to 42.3 minutes at a cost of $10.12. The cost increases when children stay in the room (45.2 minutes at a cost of $10.80 per room), and decreases for business travelers (31.8 minutes to clean at a cost of $7.60 per room.) 
Proprietary Optii data collected across a range of hotel types shows that leisure rooms inherently take longer to clean than business traveler rooms, so the imbalance between leisure and business travel will immediately drive up cleaning costs. 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 also are carefully considering the supply of in-room amenities such irons, hair dryers and additional pillows, and most will now mandate that these items will only be supplied to guests who request them from the front desk, according to the company. This will put further pressure on service staff and will require additional staff to be hired to fulfill requests efficiently. Hotels also will need to hire at least one full-time service team member to fulfill the additional service requirements. In total, the additional two staff, combined with the added cleaning payroll costs, will cost an average around $132,000 per hotel per year. 
However, hotels can offset these costs by implementing a cleaning schedule of every fourth night for longer stays. The company's calculations suggest that not performing 75 percent of stayover cleans (based on 60 percent occupancy of the hotel) could save around $110,730 per year. Hotels also could offer ancillary services such as additional deep cleans to generate new revenue in the future. 

“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 traveling,” said Soenke Weiss, chief strategy officer of Optii. “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. 
“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 survival. Smart deployment of technology to effectively manage labor will also be critical.”