But the optimism might be dampened when considering a recent survey which unveiled a surprising spectrum of thefts hotel guests commit from miniature shampoo bottles to branded pens.
By Stacy M. Brown, For The Washington Informer
The hotel industry is in the middle of a busy holiday season as 2023 draws to a close, thanks to increased business travel and a consistent preference among corporate and leisure travelers for hotel accommodations.
The results of a recent study that Morning Consult and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) commissioned support the bullish outlook. An encouraging 68 percent of U.S. respondents whose jobs require them to travel said they were likely to go on overnight work trips before the end of the year, a substantial increase from the 59 percent reported last year, highlighting a resurgence in business travel.
Notably, hotels have emerged as the top choice for 81 percent of business travelers surveyed. Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated that their inclination to stay in hotels is comparable to pre-pandemic levels. Also, nearly 70 percent of business travelers reported that their employers maintained or increased business travel to normal levels before the pandemic.
These optimistic indicators paint a rosy picture for the hotel industry, signaling a robust holiday season as travelers, both for business and leisure, demonstrate a renewed confidence in choosing hotel accommodation.
But the optimism might be dampened when considering a recent survey that unveiled a surprising spectrum of thefts hotel guests commit. In a world where hotel mementos typically range from miniature shampoo bottles to branded pens, there’s a surprising spectrum of thefts. The study by the luxury spa and hotel guide Wellness Heaven, which encompasses insights from 1,376 hotel managers across Europe, delved into the peculiar world of hotel heists, with a striking emphasis on the divergence in theft behavior between guests staying in 4- and 5-star establishments.
At first glance, the survey reveals a predictable penchant for the mundane—towels and bathrobes take the lead as the most commonly stolen items. Perhaps viewed as innocent souvenirs for future spa breaks, hangers, pens, and cosmetics closely trail these staples of hotel living. In a hotel in England, a guest had unceremoniously removed the numbers from his hotel room door, officials told the study authors. “We didn’t notice until the next guest could not find his room,” the hotel director declared.
However, the study takes an unexpected turn as it recounts tales of guests exhibiting unparalleled creativity in their thieving escapades. From pilfering bathroom fixtures, room numbers, and stuffed hunting trophies to absconding with entire grand pianos, the findings highlight the audacious lengths some guests will go to acquire unconventional souvenirs.
The survey breaks down theft behavior by nationality, revealing a fascinating tapestry of preferences. While Germans and Brits lean towards the predictable—focusing on towels, bathrobes, cosmetics, and toiletries—Austrians exhibit a penchant for pleasure, stealing dishes and coffee machines. Americans have an eye for comfort, with pillows and batteries topping their list. At the same time, Italians favor wine glasses, and the French, connoisseurs of spectacle, opt for high-profile items like TV sets and remote controls.
In 2022, a French bulldog was stolen from a room in the Embassy Suites by Hilton in the 1200 block of 22nd Street in Georgetown. Police later recovered the prized pet.
The study also explored the correlation between the wealth of guests and the items they steal. It appears that “greed is good” rings particularly true for the affluent clientele of 5-star hotels. The likelihood of stealing high-value items such as tablet computers, artwork, TV sets, and even mattresses is significantly higher in 5-star establishments compared to their 4-star counterparts.
Compared to a similar 2019 survey, the study notes a significant rise in the theft of more valuable items, including coffee makers, mattresses, and tablet computers. Mini fridges have emerged as a new target, with a higher probability of theft in 4-star hotels. A hotel owner from Germany reports on how the entire stereo system of the spa area disappeared. Thieves had apparently dismantled the entire sound equipment overnight and loaded it in their car before they left.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, theft costs hotel brands approximately $1 million annually. “Once I walked through the lobby, I noticed that something was missing, and soon after I learned that three unknown men in overalls had taken away the grand piano, and it never reappeared, of course,” an unidentified hotelier from Italy relayed to the study authors. Earlier this year, Travel Noir noted that more and more hotels are taking action to defend themselves against traveling criminals in disguise as moms on vacations with their families. According to NBC, many major hotel chains have implemented digital “no-stay” lists, banning select guests who have been identified as theft culprits.