For immediate release
December 14, 2021
As Omicron Jolts Holiday Travel, Hotel Workers’ Union Advises Hilton Guests They Can Get Daily Room Cleaning for No Extra Charge
MCLEAN, VA – Hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE has issued a travel alert for Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT) guests, advising that most Hilton hotels’ default is no longer to clean hotel rooms daily. As the COVID-19 Omicron variant raises new safety concerns about holiday travel, housekeepers say that Hilton should not reduce cleaning services. Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta has said it is his goal to “retrain customers” and change expectations for housekeeping service, but housekeepers want travelers to know that Hilton says they can opt for daily housekeeping at no extra charge.
Hilton’s new cleaning policy automatically opts guests out of daily housekeeping when staying at the flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand as well as DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, and eleven other Hilton brands. (Automatic daily housekeeping remains in effect for luxury brands such as Waldorf Astoria.) But Hilton’s policy says guests can select daily housekeeping for no extra charge by calling or visiting the front desk. If guests select daily housekeeping and do not receive it, they are encouraged to report it to email@example.com.
“Ever since Hilton ended automatic daily housekeeping, guests approach me in the hallway to ask why their room isn’t being cleaned,” said Lourdes Cortes, a housekeeper at Hilton’s Drake Hotel in Chicago for 22 years. “The truth is that housekeepers want to clean your hotel room every day, because rooms get so much harder to clean if you let dust and grime build up over days without cleaning. In 22 years, my workload has never been as painful as it is now that we’re not doing daily cleanings.”
“I don’t think customers realize that Hilton won’t clean your room daily unless you ask for it,” said D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE. “Guests don’t want to have to ask every time they need their trash emptied or dirty towels replaced. Without cleaning, what stops a hotel from being just a more expensive AirBnb? Hilton is trying to use COVID as an opportunity to eliminate this standard guest service so it can increase profits – and guests and housekeepers are paying the price.”
Housekeepers are skeptical that consumer preferences explain reduced cleaning services at Hilton. “They [customers] still have very high expectations of what they want us to deliver,” Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta said in November 2021, according to a report by The Points Guy. “We have to communicate, and retrain customers,” he added of changes to housekeeping. Less than 10% of Americans said that suspending daily housekeeping would protect guests from COVID and make them more likely to stay at a hotel for leisure in a 2020 survey by McKinsey. UNITE HERE housekeepers visited Hilton headquarters yesterday to deliver a petition with 20,000 signatures calling on Hilton to restore automatic daily housekeeping.
Industry analysts question whether ending automatic daily housekeeping could lead to hotels charging guests extra for this standard service. “The bigger question that still remains unanswered is whether or not guests will eventually have to pay for housekeeping services,” hotel consultant Rachel Roginsky told the Boston Globe.
UNITE HERE estimates that ending daily housekeeping industrywide would eliminate up to 39 percent of all U.S. hotel housekeeping jobs and cost housekeepers – overwhelmingly women of color – $4.8 billion in annual lost wages. Rooms that have gone days without cleaning are also harder to clean, and housekeepers have reported pain, stress, and injury related to cleaning checkout rooms that have not been serviced daily.
UNITE HERE has secured daily room cleaning requirements in key markets including New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and more, and will continue working to ensure that guests and housekeepers across the U.S. and Canada can expect daily disinfection for no extra charge. Learn more in UNITE HERE’s “Playing Dirty” report.
UNITE HERE is the hospitality workers’ union in the U.S. and Canada, representing over 300,000 workers in hotels, gaming, restaurants and food service, airports, and more.