For all the advances in technology we’ve seen in hotels over the past few years, there’s one area of the hotel experience that really hasn’t made any progress in terms of innovation — housekeeping.
You’d think there would be a better way. It’s always frustrating when on the day you’re supposed to check out, housekeeping starts knocking on your door at 8AM. Then at 12PM, even when you have the “Do Not Disturb” sign up they knock again, even though the front desk granted you late check-out. It’s not a big inconvenience, other than the fact that I’ve been in situations where I’m trying to sleep in the middle of the day in anticipation of a redeye, only to wake up to the noise of someone entering my room. You’d think it would be easier to let the front desk let housekeeping know when a guest checks out, instead of knocking on their door a dozen times. Beyond that, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had a housekeeper knock on the door, and literally a second later barge in, not waiting for a response.
My usual routine when staying at a hotel is to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door as soon as I check-in, and both lock the door and put the latch on the door whenever I’m in the room. Then whenever I leave I take it off, in hopes that my room will get serviced at that time.
But that’s not ideal. When I put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign I often don’t literally mean “don’t disturb me.” Instead it’s more along the lines of “I don’t want my room serviced now.” I remember being at the InterContinental Bali and ordering room service breakfast, which is included as a club guest. I had the “Do Not Disturb” sign up from the night before, so when they tried to deliver room service they first had to go back to the kitchen to call me and make sure that it would be okay to knock. I thought it was professional and their intentions were good, though obviously that wasn’t my intent with the “Do Not Disturb” sign. Calling and knocking are equally disruptive, though it was an oversight on my part.
Sometimes when leaving I’ll forget to take the “Do Not Disturb” sign off, only to be gone the entire day and get back to the hotel late at night to find my room hasn’t been serviced (understandably). Sometimes it’s the opposite, where they will nonetheless service the room, which is good (because it was an oversight on my part) and bad (because they “violated my privacy”) at the same time.
But the issue is, everyone has different standards when it comes to privacy. If someone tries to service my room while the “Do Not Disturb” sign is up, I don’t hold it against them. Others view it as a massive invasion of their privacy and demand to speak to the manager to have the housekeeper fired. Some want their room serviced every day — after all, not having to make your bed is one of the nice things about a vacation. Others feel it’s incredibly wasteful, and scoff at people that need someone else to make their bed.
Anyway, these are just a few observations. I don’t know what the solution is, but with the amount of tailoring hotels due to guests’ needs nowadays, you’d think this would be part of it. There are hotels that let you choose your pillow type and preferred type of duvet feather before you ever get to the hotel. You’d think these hotels could also have systems whereby the front desk alerts housekeeping when a guest checks out, given that guests check out anywhere between 4AM and 4PM.
Beyond that, how about a system where you’re asked at check-in whether you want housekeepers to proactively knock on your door to service your room, or whether you’d prefer to call down when you’re ready to have your room serviced.
More than anything else it’s about managing customer expectations. If someone leaves their “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door all day, they may very well have a sour taste in their mouth when they get back at night and are told they can’t have their room serviced anymore. If, on the other hand, they’re asked at check-in for their preference, the guest only has themselves to blame. Something along the lines of “would you like us to approach you for housekeeping, or do you want to call down between the hours of 8AM and 5PM when you’re ready to have your room made?”
I’m not expecting this at a Motel 6, but I think luxury hotels could do quite some innovating here.
Thoughts? Anyone else feel this way? Am I crazy? All of the above?