Front Desk

A Bad Week for Hotel Housekeepers

Some grim and horrible news surfaced in the past few days related to hotel housekeeping. None of it places the lodging industry in good light.

First, Hyatt Hotels made a sound business decision but a terrible public relations gaffe when it fired about 100 housekeepers at three Boston hotels, replacing them with less-expensive workers from an outsourcing agency. The news of the firings resonated with the media and subsequently the public and politicians. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick even says he plans an investigation of the matter, although I'm not sure what he can do about it besides bluster.

And while Hyatt Hotels released a statement justifying its actions (the properties have had precipitous drops in revenues and the cuts were accompanied by staff reductions and salary slashes in other departments and among some managers), it hasn't been able to stem the tide of outrage. Can you imagine how hotel union officials will use this situation in their organizing efforts? It's especially embarrassing for Hyatt as it is in the process of going public.

The media has been particularly dogged in following the story with USA Today's Hotel Check-In blog leading the charge.

The Hyatt dust-up pales, however, with the other hotel housekeeper news of the week: a gruesome stabbing death of a resident at a luxury New York hotel apparently by a housekeeping manager at the property.

All in all, not a good period for the hotel industry, particularly in the back of the house.

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