Hotels Cutting Back
With every trip, I feel more like I’m suiting up for a war against devaluation. I know I’ll lose some battles, but it won’t be due to my own lack of preparation. Hotels cutting back on services is nothing new. But the pandemic was a catalyst for more, and shocker, many of these hotel amenities haven’t returned. I begrudgingly accept some, knowing that I can still get what I want by following a certain set of new directions. Others are just gone, and the only option I have to fight against them is not patronizing that business. These are the major areas of hotel shrinkflation I’ve noticed lately, and I recommend you be on the lookout as you prepare for upcoming trips.
In and Out Times
Check-in and checkout times are one of the clearest changes I’ve noticed in the past few years. In general, I’ve been accustomed to 3 pm check-in and 12 noon checkout times at hotels over the years. Sure, certain properties have required later check-in and/or earlier checkout, but that’s become more the rule than the exception these days.
The new standard for many properties has somehow become a 4 pm check-in and 11 am checkout. Have hotels adjusted their rates, reflecting a price decrease equivalent to two less hours? I think you know the answer. Sure, we have ways around this. By holding elite status with a given program, one can generally request a complimentary early check-in or late checkout. But there’s no guarantee there.
Indeed, some now act like they’re bending over backwards when providing the previous standard. During our recent Embassy Suites Virginia Beach Oceanfront stay, I asked for a complimentary late checkout as a Hilton Honors Diamond member. The front desk agent responded, “the absolute best I can do is 12 noon.” I politely accepted, knowing that’s all I needed. But the dude talked like he was doing me some huge, out of the ordinary favor. Okay, pal.
Many properties have opted for the bolted down, large bottles of toiletries, reminding me of an old motel TV remote locked to the bedside table. The makers are dressing up their bottles with branding and clever fonts to seemingly distract us from the lock-and-key presentation. I’ll accept this nonsense, on one condition (pun intended).
Hot take: such bottles should actually have the necessary contents within. To this end, housekeeping must assess the situation and fill the receptacles, if needed. Doing so may require more time than placing a new bar of mini-soap ever would. I theorize many workers don’t care, check, or both. This is how I ended up in my room’s shower at a “luxury” property without soap. I’ve also caught this at Holiday Inn Express – before I got in the shower, luckily.
I don’t necessarily blame housekeeping here. I think it lies more with those in power who made this cost-cutting decision. Sure, they’re saving money with the cheaper toiletries, but responsibly refilling takes employee resources, as well. On one occasion, a hotel GM had to bring me soap!
I know many don’t care much about housekeeping service. My family and I enjoy the perk – it’s still my favorite, actually. Hotels have created a barrier to entry here, though. No longer do guests automatically receive this service in many properties. Hilton’s leaned more into this than other chains, in my experience. A visitor must remember to request it, sometimes at check-in. It’s a simple fix, but one more thing I must remember to confirm with each property.
This has gone on for years, and complimentary breakfast hours are now more abbreviated than ever. I’ve stayed in several properties where it ends at 9 am. That’s not terribly early, but many enjoy sleeping in a bit on vacation. But avoiding complimentary breakfast chaos, impossible in some cases, entails arriving much earlier. In reality, we may be better off just skipping this breakfast entirely. In the meantime, such hotels keep their rates high, based partly on their complimentary breakfast offering.
I was recently burned by an extremely limited hotel airport shuttle policy. Properties are very good at touting shuttles as a service to guests. They conveniently leave out operating hours while minimizing the impact to their bottom line. Often, travelers don’t find out until they’ve already paid up for such stays. Undoubtedly, it’s on the customers to check this stuff in advance. But have fun calling the property and probably waiting on hold to ask this simple question while the sole front desk agent deals with myriad unrelated issues.
Hotels Cutting Back – Conclusion
That’s enough of my complaining for now, between this and something else I recently experienced. Long story short, the traveler shoulders even more responsibility to ensure a pleasant stay these days. Doing all this prep can test the will of any traveler. One is often led to wonder if the headache is even worth it in some cases. Remember, we have a choice where our dollars and points go. I value certain basic hotel experiences for many travel needs. But I also enjoy hotel experiences which are a true pleasure, even if it costs more. Where else have you noticed hotels cutting back?
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