What Are Your True Variable Costs Per Occupied Room?

Knowing the average, actual costs incurred per occupied guestroom enables a manager to make more prudent pricing and marketing decisions and to monitor expenses. Variable costs may range from $12 per room night for a budget property to more than $75 per room night for a world-class hotel. Here are six variable costs to consider:


To most accurately calculate average labor expense per occupied guestroom, take the total labor plus benefits expense for a time period and divide it by the number of guestrooms serviced. Keep in mind that you only calculate the housekeeping labor costs for employees involved in servicing a guestroom.

2Cleaning supplies and amenities.

Determine the average cost to replace “consumable” amenity items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toilet paper, tissues, and coffee. For limited-service hotels, amenities may cost less than $1 per guestroom; for luxury hotels, the amenity replacement costs may total $20 or more. Don’t forget to calculate the average cost of cleaning supplies and chemicals per room cleaned, including disinfectant, glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, and furniture polish.

3Laundry expense.

If a guestroom is occupied, the bed and bath linens will need to be laundered after the guest checks out or after a specified number of days occupancy. Calculate the average laundry costs per occupied guestroom by adding up the labor, laundry chemical, and utility costs incurred and dividing by the number of guestrooms occupied for that period.


When guests occupy a room, they turn on the lights, watch TV, take hot showers, run the heat or air conditioning, recharge electronics, and more. Similarly, the room attendant uses electricity and water when cleaning the guestroom. Because energy consumption in guestrooms is not individually metered in the United States, the utility expense per occupied room will need to be estimated.

5Allocation toward refurbishment.

Based on occupancy levels, type of hotel, guest segmentation, geographic location, and brand requirements, most hotels plan to refurbish their guestrooms every four to seven years. Allocate an average of 3 percent of the room rate generated toward a capital expenditure budget for room renovations. Therefore, a $100 guestroom will cost the hotel $3 in capital expenses per night that it is occupied.

6Reservation fees, marketing royalties, and commissions.

While these are technically not housekeeping-related expenses, they are variable expenses that a hotel will incur associated with each sold guestroom and must be remitted to the hotel’s franchisor, distribution channels, and booking partners.


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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.


  1. Hi, Can we have a software/formulas designed to calculate the costing of rooms etc, as mentioned on your article, will give great help,

    • what is the average cost to run a heating and air unit in a standard 325 square feet hotel room. Say at 12 cents a KW.

  2. Motel is not free; it has commercial mortgage on it. Taxes, insurances, staff salary, maintenance plus most travelled steals things like remote controls, TV, keys and whatnot. Also utilities are charged at commercial rate. Laundry sheets comforts and whatnot.

    Running motel is not easy baby….

  3. I have read the average utility cost per guest room per year in $2300.00. I believe it is closer to $1450.00 actually- this includes gas electric, water sewage and maybe cable and internet I guess. I would guess the average cost to run a PTAC unit in a guest room is around $35.00 per month but this is a guess using 1200watts X 8 hours of run time a day that is the A/C or heat running 20 minutes of every hour every day of the month at 12 cents per kilowatt.

  4. While calculating the Cost per available room , why we do not take FLP into consideration ?

  5. Excellent and Useful Information for a Hospitality Professionals to broaden their career Horizon.

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