After a tumultuous 2020, hotels are expected to remain challenged well into 2021, even with cost-saving Covid-era protocols like streamlined dining options and reduced housekeeping likely to extend into the coming year.


“When looking at the latest earnings calls, the capital expenditures for many of the major hotel brands were down 75%,” said Robert Cole, Phocuswright’s senior research analyst for lodging and leisure travel. “They’re going to be trying to save money radically.”

During a virtual panel at this year’s NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in mid-November, Choice Hotels CEO Patrick Pacious told attendees that as the pandemic hits its one-year milestone, temporary Covid-related service changes are increasingly likely to become “more permanent” in 2021.

“The good news is a lot of these changes are really going to hit at some of the core problems that we’ve had as an industry, which are rising costs,” said Pacious.

Pacious cited expenses tied to labor and food and beverage as particularly prohibitive, with pandemic-related practices like daily housekeeping on request and more limited breakfast options helping to ease some of those financial pressures.

Likewise, Cole said he knows of at least one major hotel real estate investment trust considering turning housekeeping during a guest’s stay into an add-on upcharge, though he expects such a policy could negatively impact guest satisfaction.

Bjorn Hanson generally agrees. The hospitality consultant and adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management predicted that an extension of on-demand housekeeping could prove controversial.