Less Is More: New Guestroom Protocols for a New Norm

A disposable paper coffee cup sits on a wooden table

Travelers have always placed guestroom cleanliness at the forefront of their lodging priorities. For this very reason, most hotel brands have developed detailed guestroom cleaning procedures and inspection protocols. With an increased focus on minimizing both the potential surface contamination transfer of germs and face-to-face interaction with guests, moving forward we can expect hotels to implement many new practices to reduce guestroom cleaning surfaces and direct contact. These include:

1Eliminating printed materials.

Hard-to-sanitize printed guest directories, city guidebooks, in-room dining menus, stationary, notepads, pens, linen change cards, and breakfast menu door hangers will become a relic of the past. They will be replaced with QR code placards urging guests to scan the code with their smart devices and then view information, place room service orders, or request specific amenities via the guest’s mobile device.

2Embracing minimalism.

In an effort to reduce potential surface contamination, many hotels have already or will begin to furnish guestrooms in a more austere manner. This will mean fewer furnishings, wallcoverings, and upholstered surfaces. Sham covers and box springs will be converted to wood or metal box frames that support only the mattress—think platform beds. There will be fewer hangers in the closet and additional pillows and blankets will no longer be stored in-room. Hotels will begin to migrate to solid guestroom flooring in lieu of carpeting. These steps will enable the introduction of intense pulsed xenon UV light and antimicrobial spray robots to sanitize and disinfect the hard surfaces more reliably and quickly.

3Less comfort.

Additional sacrifices will include the removal of ice buckets and glassware, to be replaced with plastic and paper cups. Luxury hotels will reduce their offering of bathrobes, complimentary slippers, and rubber-backed bathmats. Hairdryers will no longer be stored in cloth bags. In summary, aside from linens, every effort will be made to reduce or remove any exposed porous items from guestrooms


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Dr. William D. Frye is a hospitality educator, researcher, consultant, and former hotel general manager. He is the co-author of AHLEI’s housekeeping textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations.