Say goodbye to hotel turndown and these other services people simply don’t want to pay for anymore

hotel maid
  • Hilton discontinued daily housekeeping this week, part of a wider trend in hospitality.
  • It’s one of several things that customer-facing businesses are realizing they don’t need anymore.
  • The economy of 2021 is leaving behind parts of the economy of 2019: the physical ones.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For Americans, early July marks Independence Day. This year, it also marks independence for hospitality workers.

A record number of hospitality workers are simply quitting their jobs with no intention of ever going back, declaring a certain kind of independence. And those still on the job just gained independence from daily housekeeping as Hilton announced this week that the service will only be performed upon request, Travel Weekly reported.

As hotel stays plummeted in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, daily housekeeping was one of the first services to be cut, but even as travel revived, it’s not coming back. It’s part of a wider trend within hospitality, the same publication previously reported, fueling the rise of third-party operators like New York-based Butler Hospitality, a “ghost kitchen” for room service. It’s one of the starkest examples of how the economy of 2021 will be different from the one of 2019.

The issue comes down to staffing. In March and April, as a record number of workers were quitting their jobs, the quit rate for hospitality workers actually increased, along with job openings. That means hospitality firms were trying their hardest to hire just as more of their workers were deciding to leave.

As Bloomberg Opinion columnist Conor Sen wrote on Twitter: This is a job that just “won’t exist in the future because it’s uneconomical.” In other words, you’re going to have to make your own hotel bed.

Here’s what today’s economy is finding it just doesn’t need.

Daily housekeeping service and breakfasts at hotels

day room hotel

Before Hilton’s announcement that housekeeping was a thing of the past, Baird analyst Michael Bellisario told The Washington Post that many hotels were considering permanent cuts to a range of services, including cleaning but also free breakfasts. 

The new American consumer doesn’t mind too much, as reflected by an August 2020 survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Almost two-thirds of travelers said daily housekeeping should be done without. 

After the pandemic, contactless is what travelers want. Insider’s Michelle Gross reported in July 2020 that technology and safety will be paramount to the future hotel experience. Vanessa Ogle, CEO of hotel technology company Enseo, said, “Technology will be the bridge that enables and manages safety and cleanliness procedures and communicates those procedures to guests as well as associates.” 

A Hilton spokesperson told Insider that daily housekeeping is available “upon request” in the US and will be automatically done on the fifth day of an extended stay. Visitors to the Hilton brands Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and LXR properties will still automatically receive daily housekeeping. 

Menus at restaurants

qr code menu restaurant

The QR code could be the ATM machine of our day. Before ATMs, people would wait in line to get money out from a bank with the help of a bank teller. Today, many restaurants don’t use a physical menu, but instead instruct guests to access it via phone from a laminated QR code on the tabletop. 

Similar to the ATM, the QR code has been around for decades. As Insider’s Kristen Hawley reports, it dates back to the 1990s, and widespread adoption of it has waxed and waned. Insider’s Ben Winck reported that the pandemic accelerated automation’s adoption in restaurants, with QR codes leading the way at Cracker Barrel, Dave & Buster’s, and Olive Garden parent company Darden.

More automation means less cashiers, too, so be prepared to wait longer to pay for the food that you ordered on your phone. With the persistent rising trend of ordering to-go, there’s a chance you’ll have to wait for the restaurant staff to sort through their flood of online orders first, too. You could also end up eating more. Insider’s Grace Dean reported diners could feel less judged, and end up ordering a lot more food.

 

 

Dressing rooms at retail stores

dressing room

During the year of lockdown, ecommerce took off and looks to be holding its gains. A report this week from a Deutsche Bank team led by Senior US Economist Brett Ryan found the online shopping trend that accelerated in 2020 “appears to be holding onto the pandemic gains,” meaning that shopping for clothes online could well be a sticky habit.

At the same time, Ryan’s team found consumer spending well above pre-pandemic levels for three straight months. That means a lot fewer brick-and-mortar stores where you can walk in and physically try on clothing. At the start of 2021, Coresight Research predicted 14% more store closures this year than last, meaning up to 10,000 stores will disappear.

Instead of more visits to more stores, think a lot of cardboard boxes piling up at your door instead. And probably a lot of returns of clothes that don’t quite fit.

[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct a reference to Butler Hospitality as a “ghost kitchen” third-party operator, not a room-cleaning service.]

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How wearable pods designed to keep spectators dry at sporting events came to be used by drive-thru workers at Chick-fil-A and Dunkin’

cfa distance
  • Under the Weather produces weatherproof pods.
  • Most customers were sports fans and festival goers, but it pivoted to fit around COVID changes.
  • Drive-thru and curbside workers at Dunkin, Chick-fil-A, and Olive Garden have used them.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

You might have seen them on your most recent trip through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru, on a plane, or at a kid’s sporting event. Under the Weather Pods are weather-resistant, screened-in structure that can be worn or sat in.

Rick Pescovitz designed the first pod in 2010 after he got the idea from an experience he had sheltering in a Porta Potty from bad weather during his daughter’s soccer game. The Porta Potty inspired the shape of the original pod, which was made based on a laundry basket with a steel wire structure, Pescovitz told Insider.

nevada soccer

The pods, which now come in more than 30 variations, were originally a big hit with parents like Pescovitz, and tailgaters, he said. Under the Weather began reaching out to crossing guards and ticket takers too, and business picked up in 2014. Since those early days, the company has sold a few hundred thousand pods according to Pescovitz

Read more: Chick-fil-A’s out-of-control drive-thru lines have it facing off against local businesses and battling lawsuits

When COVID hit the US in March 2020, it could have been disastrous for the niche company. Before the pandemic, 90% of customers were sports fans and music festival attendees, Pescovitz, said, and February through May was the busiest season. COVID essentially shut down all of the company’s usual business, and they were forced to pivot.

IntubationPodMinn

Peskovitz saw the need for PPE on the news and he thought, “we could do something like that.” Within four weeks Under the Weather had come up with a concept, samples, and the final product of the intubation pod, which provides extra protection for healthcare workers during one of the most potentially contagious procedures. Under the Weather donated and sold these pods to hospitals and EMTs.

Under the weather pods
Under the Weather Pods.

The wearable line has been the most popular since the start of the pandemic due to the rise of curbside pickup, Peskovitz told Insider. He says 25 to 30,000 sales can be directly attributed to COVID. Some Chick-fil-a locations use the walking pods for drive-thru and curbside employees, a deal that Peskovitz says has been “really good for us.”

Many people are “uncomfortable or too prideful,” to wear the pods, one Indiana Chick-fil-A employee told Insider. However, he likes them, saying “it keeps us dry, keeps iPads dry, blocks out the wind, and makes it more tolerable.”

NJ covid test

As drive-thru and curbside pickup continues to grow in importance, other brands are testing out the pods. Dunkin’ and Dutch Bros. Coffee have rolled them out, and they’re being tested at Portillos, Olive Garden, and Outback Steakhouse.

In the future, Peskovitz says he wants Under the Weather to grow sales to businesses and work with corporate chains directly, rather than finding interested franchisees to sell to separately. Private buyers can purchase pods directly from Under the Weather, or from Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Walmart.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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