INTERNATIONAL REPORT—In May 2023, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern and should be treated as an ongoing health issue.
For travelers, cleanliness has played a tremendous role even before the pandemic. In this article, we explore whether hotel cleanliness is still a primary concern for travelers after three pandemic years. The short answer is yes. And we offer a few strategies for hoteliers to avoid lower scores by keeping cleanliness standards high.
How Cleanliness Impacts Your Hotel’s Guest Satisfaction & Bookings
Cleanliness plays a vital role in guest satisfaction. When guests enter a clean and well-maintained hotel, it creates a positive impression and contributes to their overall experience. Clean rooms, fresh linens, spotless bathrooms, and well-maintained public areas enhance guest comfort, making them more likely to have a pleasant stay, leave positive reviews, and book another stay.
In today’s digital age, online reviews significantly influence a hotel’s reputation and success. Cleanliness is one of the most mentioned aspects in guest reviews. Negative feedback about cleanliness issues can severely impact a hotel’s online reputation, discouraging potential bookings and damaging its reputation.
A Look at the Evolution of Impact Scores
Impact Scores leverage all review data for hotels and fill in the gaps between what people say and how that impacts the scores they give. With the help of semantic analysis, we extract relevant data from all reviews. Then we can estimate the impact that, for example, room maintenance had on a performance score in a particular period. These scores reflect different semantic categories (Service, WiFi, Parking, Location, etc.).
Impact Scores are split into negative and positive categories. For each category, we show how many points you can lose or gain from your performance score. We looked at the evolution of three specific Cleanliness categories that were most likely to impact a hotel’s performance score negatively. Here’s what we found:
#1 Global: Cleanliness Negative Impact Decreases, Still Makes a Huge Difference for the Performance Score
Globally, the cleanliness categories most likely to bring lower scores for hotels throughout 2021 to 2023 were: Bathroom Cleanliness, Room Cleanliness, and Dining Area Cleanliness.
For all three categories, the highest negative impact was recorded in Q1 2021—when most of the world was still closed and figuring out how to reopen the borders while maintaining high health and safety standards.
Room and Dining Area Cleanliness registered the lowest impact in Q1 2023—when most regions, including China, had already reopened and managed COVID-19 as an ongoing health issue. Bathroom Cleanliness recorded the lowest value in Q3 2022, slowly climbing in Q4 2022.
Although all categories got slightly closer to positive values, cleanliness remains one of the most influential factors that can make or break your performance score.
#2 EMEA: No Significant Changes, Cleanliness Still Important for Travelers
Unlike global cleanliness impacts, EMEA doesn’t record significant changes in how cleanliness influences scores. There is a slight decrease compared to 2021, when all three categories registered the highest negative value in Q1. The lowest negative value for Bathroom and Room Cleanliness was in Q3 2021 and for Dining Area in Q2 2022.
Compared to the global values, EMEA is among the regions where cleanliness has the least negative impact on the performance score.
#3 APAC: Cleanliness More Likely to Bring Lower Scores Than in 2021
APAC was the last region to relax COVID-19-related measures, with China opening its borders only at the end of Q4 2022. Compared to EMEA and global impacts, we see the lowest negative values for these categories in Q1 2021 (Bathroom Cleanliness) and Q3 2021 (Room Cleanliness). The only category following a similar pattern with the global trend is Dining Area Cleanliness, which had the most negligible negative impact in Q1 2023.
There was one quarter when Dining Area didn’t enter the bottom three impacts. In Q2 2022, its place was taken by Pool Cleanliness.
If you’re an APAC hotelier, pay extra attention to Room & Bathroom Cleanliness—both of these categories are now more likely to bring lower scores than in 2021.
#4 US: Cleanliness Can Make or Break Your Performance Score
Historically, the U.S. is known as the region with the lowest ratio of positive reviews. In 2022, 83 percent of all feedback was positive, while the percentage reached 92 percent to 94 percent in the other regions. Guests are picky, and cleanliness in the U.S. can make or break a hotel’s performance score. For example, the bottom two cleanliness impact scores exceed negative double digits across almost all quarters.
There is a specific cleanliness factor for the U.S. alone in the bottom three impacts: Hotel Cleanliness. Guests are paying more attention to how well-maintained and cleaned are the hotel building, amenities, and surroundings. The only quarter we didn’t see it in the bottom three was Q1 2021—when Pool Cleanliness replaced it.
Bathroom Cleanliness reached its maximum value in Q1 2021 and lowest in Q3 2021, with significant variations across the two years we analyzed. Room Cleanliness was steadier, with a double-digit value across all quarters. Hotel Cleanliness recorded variation, with its highest negative impact in Q3 2022.
As a U.S. hotelier, cleanliness is super important to track and improve, as the impact it may have on your score is very high.
#5 DACH: Cleanliness Impacts Getting Closer to Positive Values
DACH has registered the best improvements in the bottom three cleanliness impacts. Besides Dining Area, which only improved slightly, the other subcategories—Bathroom and Room Cleanliness—have significantly increased.
5 Ways Guest Reviews Will Help You Keep High Hotel Cleanliness Standards and Improve Your Score
Guest reviews play a significant role in maintaining high hotel cleanliness standards and improving hotel scores. Positive reviews contribute to a hotel’s reputation and attract more guests. If actively managed, negative reviews can turn detractors into promoters. Here are some ways guest reviews can help in achieving and sustaining cleanliness excellence:
#1 Collect Feedback
Encourage guests to provide feedback on cleanliness through various channels, such as live or post-stay surveys and online review platforms. Actively seek their opinions and experiences related to cleanliness, as this valuable input can help identify specific areas that need improvement.
#2 Respond to Your Guest Reviews
Respond promptly to guest reviews, particularly those addressing cleanliness concerns. Acknowledge the feedback and apologize for any inconvenience caused. Demonstrate a proactive approach by addressing the issues raised and providing appropriate solutions. It shows guests that their concerns are taken seriously and reflects a commitment to excellence in cleanliness.
#3 Monitor & Analyze Guest Reviews
Utilize guest reviews as a real-time monitoring tool for cleanliness. Regularly track and analyze guest feedback to identify emerging cleanliness-related patterns or concerns. It will allow you to take immediate action and rectify any issues before they escalate.
#4 Adopt a Mindset of Improvement
Guest reviews are a source of valuable insights. You can identify recurring cleanliness issues or areas that need improvement. Analyze patterns or trends in the feedback to understand common concerns and work towards rectifying them. Implementing necessary changes based on guest feedback ensures a continual improvement process.
#5 Invest in Your Staff
Recognize and appreciate hotel staff who consistently receive positive reviews for cleanliness. Highlight their efforts and publicly acknowledge their contributions to maintaining high cleanliness standards. Recognizing exceptional performance motivates employees to sustain their efforts and encourages others to strive for excellence.
Guest reviews can reveal specific areas where staff might require additional training or education. Utilize feedback to identify knowledge gaps or areas for improvement among the cleaning staff. Tailor training programs to address these areas and ensure that employees are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to meet guests’ cleanliness expectations.
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