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Earlier this week I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia while in town for work for several days. It’s a perfectly fine run-of-the-mill HIE in the area, and not really worth reviewing (but it will finish off my Q2 Accelerate promotion nicely).

Except for one new item. This was the first time I’d found a door placard offering points for declining housekeeping service at an IHG brand hotel. I have opted for SPG “Make a Green Choice”, a  program I love, many times. I hope Marriott keeps this program feature (as long as they up the points a bit). I figured the IHG offer would be similar to the typical SPG offer of 500 points per night for full-service hotels and 250 points per night at limited-service hotels.

Reading the fine print

The front of the card says you can “defer housekeeping to conserve resources and earn 500 IHG Rewards Club points.” So far so good. I turned it over to hopefully read more.

All I have to do is hang it on the door before 2:00 a.m. and…wait…what does it say in the final note???

The part about requiring a minimum of two nights is understandable. Housekeeping has to service a room in-between guests. But there is a maximum cap of 500 points per stay?? This takes the offer from reasonable (500 points per night) to totally lame, for all but 2-night stays.

Figures it’d be IHG to slide in a condition like this. This is just cheap. Offering 500 points per night isn’t bad. That’s approximately $3 you’re sliding me for declining housekeeping (but I’d far rather have 500 SPG points worth $12+). But $3 for the whole stay? No thanks.

I intended to slide the hanger onto the door on the second-to-last night to see if they’d award me points for just opting for one night, but I completely spaced. I’ll test it next time I see it.

Why all hotels should roll out these programs

Although the placard may say “A Greener Stay” on it, a cynic will tell you that conserving resources isn’t the real issue here for the hotel. If I decline housekeeping, that is one fewer room that needs to be cleaned that day. The hotel will save on labor and material costs since they won’t dump my trash, clean my sink or make my bed. Or restock my bathroom amenities. Oddly, housekeeping kept disposing of my hand soap and shampoo bottles every day, leaving me brand new ones. Wastefulness at its worst.

Even if the real concern is the hotels own bottom line by saving on labor cost, there is some truth to the programs saving resources. In may be incremental, but guests opting out of housekeeping definitely means fewer towels to launder, less water used, and less waste.

Lots of hotels encourage you to conserve resources, but not all of them incentivize it. Incentivizing guests to forego housekeeping benefits both the hotel and the guests. It’s a win-win. It passes on some of that savings to the guest. However, there is definitely a debate over the consequences of these programs on housekeeping. Personally, I consider these programs a perfect match for travelers, hotels and the environment.

Conclusion

I hope IHG will eventually hit the mark on this. Offering 500 points per night is enough of an incentive that I don’t think they’ll need to go any further. It’s not a lot, but it’s something for foregoing housekeeping. Offering 500 points per stay, however, is just cheap (and it didn’t incentivize me to opt out of clean towels every day).

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