Win-win savings for hotels and customers

March 21, 2011

I stayed at the Hilton Del Mar in southern California recently. And was pleasantly surprised by their $5 a night ‘bonus’ to travelers who chose to put a green ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the door each night. The bonus is a $5 voucher per night that is valid for food or drink from that hotel. As I stayed four nights, I got $20 to ‘spend’. I decided to save the vouchers for use on Saturday night or Sunday morning when meals weren’t provided by the workshop organizers.

Then I got to thinking… For many years now, we’ve been asked by hotels to hang up towels we are happy to reuse for another day — all in the name of conserving the environment. I have no idea how successful that campaign has been, but if the recent stay at the Hyatt in Long Beach, California is any indication, I’m not sure that the housekeeping staff know the drill — despite a little sign in our room and despite hanging towels every day,  the linen was changed every day of our four-night stay.

The Hilton did it a little differently. They handed you the green ‘do not disturb’ sign when you checked in and told you that you’d receive a $5 food and beverage voucher for every night you hung it on the door; rooms would be serviced after three nights. This was a good incentive as food and drink in such hotels can be pretty pricey. So, the customer ‘wins’. Instead of some altruistic feeling of ‘goodness’ that comes from reusing towels, I got an envelope containing the voucher slipped under the door sometime during the night (they could save even more money by not using the envelope).

The hotel wins too. And I think it’s a big win for them. By only servicing a room every three days for guests who stay more than a few days, the hotel saves on these charges:

  • laundering of bed and bathroom linen (water, detergent, transport to/from commercial laundry, labor to do the laundry)
  • replacement of toiletries (even when you’ve only used a tiny amount out of a shampoo bottle, they replace it with a new one every day of your stay under daily servicing; if that costs $1 a bottle, it’s a big saving over many rooms and many nights)
  • and the big one: labor charges.

My guess is that by not servicing a room daily, the hotel would save at least $20. Giving back $5 to the customer is a small price to pay to achieve that sort of saving. And don’t forget– many customers won’t use some or all of their vouchers.

Update: As I was staying four nights, I didn’t see the point in them servicing my room on the third night, when I was due to check out the next day, so I went to the Lobby and asked that the room not be serviced on the third night — and it wasn’t.


  1. I really like the idea of these green vouchers! I also noticed how towels get laundered each day despite hanging them up. I resort to hanging up the Do Not Disturb sign – and feeling guilty about it! I hang it up so they won’t go in and do the towels and replace the soaps!

    Tagging this article with “user experience” is perfect. There are so many good UX angles here. It shows how the tech comm eye can see stories everywhere!

  2. […] Option for no daily service of the room, with a $5 food and beverage voucher for each day that you don’t require daily service. I’ve blogged about this separately. […]

  3. […] More hotel win-win savings March 5, 2012 Last year when I was in the US, I posted about the Hilton Del Mar hotel’s ‘green’ initiative, whereby they reward customers staying more than one night for not getting their room serviced […]

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