The Hidden Costs of the Hospitality Industry: Understanding Operating Expenses

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Today, it’s almost impossible for us to think of a world without hotels, and there’s no denying that the hospitality industry is a cornerstone of the global economy. According to Statista, in 2019, global hospitality industry revenues amounted to 0 billion. The market has been steadily growing, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was projected to reach 6.2% from 2020 to 2027. However, the growth in earnings has not been sufficient to compensate for the increased operating costs. exploitation . In this article, we will explore various operating expenses that hotels incur every day and how they impact the industry.

As with any business, hotels have several expenses that need to be covered before they can turn a profit. Operating expenses, also known as running costs, are the costs that arise from running day-to-day business operations. These costs are necessary to operate the hotel and provide guests with a comfortable stay. Some of the biggest operating costs include:

  • Employee salaries and benefits
  • Housekeeping and cleaning expenses
  • Utility and energy bills
  • Property maintenance and repair costs
  • Marketing and advertising costs
  • Food and beverage expenses
  • Insurance and liability costs
  • Property taxes and other regulatory fees

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each of these costs and understand how they impact a hotel’s bottom line.

Hotel operating costs

Operating costs are the expenses that a hotel encompasses while running its day-to-day operations. These costs include salaries and benefits, utility bills, marketing costs, etc. The total operating cost of a hotel determines its profitability and long-term sustainability.

Operating Expenses

The following is a list of key operating expenses that a hotel incurs:

  • Salaries and employee benefits: This includes salaries, benefits, such as health insurance and pension contributions.
  • Household expenses and cleaning: This includes the cost of cleaning products, laundry and the maintenance of cleaning equipment.
  • Utility and energy bills: This includes electricity, gas, and water bills, as well as internet and phone expenses.
  • Property maintenance and repair costs: This includes the cost of fixing and maintaining hotel facilities, such as plumbing, air conditioning and elevators.
  • Marketing and advertising costs: This includes the cost of promoting the hotel through various channels such as print, digital and social marketing.
  • Food and Beverage Expenses: This includes the cost of sourcing and preparing food and beverages for the hotel’s restaurants, bars, and room service.
  • TECHNOLOGY AND SOFTWARE: This includes the cost of technology infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi, software licensing, and cybersecurity.
  • Insurance and liability costs: This includes the cost of liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and other types of insurance.
  • Property Taxes and Other Regulatory Fees: This includes the cost of property taxes, licenses, permits, and other regulatory fees imposed by local and state governments.

In conclusion, hotel operating costs play an important role in determining the profitability and sustainability of a hotel. By monitoring and managing these expenses effectively, hotels can optimize their resources and ensure long-term success in the competitive hospitality industry.

Employee salaries and benefits

Salaries and employee benefits are a significant portion of a hotel’s operating costs. According to recent statistical data in the United States, employee salaries and benefits costs account for about 47% of a hotel’s operating expenses. This high percentage represents the cost of hiring and retaining quality staff in a highly competitive industry.

The actual cost of employee salaries and benefits varies significantly by hotel type and location. For an average hotel in the United States, the annual cost of employee salaries and benefits is approximately .8 million. In large metropolitan areas, this cost can be as high as million for an average-sized hotel.

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Hotels employ a variety of people, ranging from receptionists and housekeepers to managers and chefs. The salary range can vary widely, with managers and chefs generally receiving much higher salaries than entry-level roles such as housekeeping or maintenance staff. On average, salaries for hotel employees range from ,000 to ,000 per year. However, highly skilled employees such as chefs or senior managers can earn six-figure salaries.

In addition to salaries, hotels typically offer a range of staff benefits, including health insurance, pension plans, and paid vacation. These benefits can vary depending on the size and location of the hotel, but the average cost of benefits is approximately 40% of the total salary cost. In the United States, the average annual cost of employee benefits is approximately .5 million for an average-sized hotel.

As with all businesses, hotels must balance the cost of employee salaries and benefits against their revenue. In highly competitive markets, hotels may offer higher salaries and benefits to attract and retain top talent. However, this can be difficult when operating costs are high and revenues are constrained by factors such as seasonal demand or economic downturns.

Overall, employee salaries and benefits are an important component of hotel operating costs. They represent a vital investment in the quality of staff and an important factor in ensuring the success of a hotel business. Effectively managing these costs is essential to maintaining profitability and providing quality services to customers.

  • Salaries and employee benefits account for approximately 47% of a hotel’s operating expenses in the United States.
  • The annual cost of employee salaries and benefits ranges from .8 million to million depending on the size and location of the hotel.
  • The salary range varies greatly from entry-level roles to highly skilled employees.
  • The average cost of employee benefits is about 40% of the total salary cost in the United States, or about .5 million for an average-sized hotel.

Housekeeping and cleaning expenses

When it comes to running a hotel, housekeeping and cleaning fees are one of the biggest operational costs. According to recent statistical information, the average hourly wage for a housekeeper in the United States is .70, which translates to an annual salary of around ,000. However, the actual expenses associated with housekeeping and cleaning extend far beyond the hourly wages of housekeeping staff.

Laundry: One of the biggest expenses associated with housekeeping is laundry. Hotels must wash and dry all linens, towels and other materials used by guests. According to a recent survey, the average hotel spends about .64 per pound on linens. This means that a hotel with 100 rooms that do all their laundry in-house can expect to spend around 8 a day on laundry alone.

Cleaning products and equipment: Another major expense for hotels is the cost of cleaning products and equipment. In addition to cleaning supplies, hotels should also invest in equipment like vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners to keep their rooms and common areas in tip-top shape. On average, hotels spend about ,118 per year on cleaning supplies and equipment per room.

Employee training and turnover: Staff training and employee turnover are also major expenses for hotels. Employee turnover rates in the hospitality industry are high, and it can be costly to continually hire and train new employees. On average, hotels spend about ,500 per employee on training and development.

Outsourcing: For hotels that outsource their housekeeping and cleaning services, the cost can vary greatly depending on the provider and the location of the hotel. However, on average, hotels can expect to pay between and 5 per room for outsourced housekeeping services.

  • In conclusion, housekeeping and cleaning expenses can add up quickly for hotels. From laundry and cleaning supplies and equipment to employee training and turnover, there are many costs associated with maintaining a clean and presentable hotel for guests.
  • It is important for hotel operators to carefully consider these costs when developing their budgets and pricing structures to ensure that they are able to provide clean and comfortable accommodations without sacrificing profitability.
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Utility and energy bills

One of the biggest operating costs for a hotel is utility and energy bills. From keeping the lights on to having the water hot, hotels consume a large amount of energy to comfort their guests. According to recent statistical information, it is estimated that a mid-range hotel spends around ,196 per room per year on energy costs in the United States.

Depending on the location and size of the property, the cost of energy consumption can vary. In some cases, hotels in urban areas pay higher utility bills due to high demand for electricity and water. On the other hand, hotels in remote areas may pay a premium to supply their properties with power.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are responsible for a significant portion of energy consumption in hotels. HVAC units require high amounts of energy to regulate temperature, which is critical to customer comfort. However, if systems are not well maintained, they can consume more energy than necessary, leading to higher bills.

Another factor that impacts energy costs is the age of the property. Older hotels may have outdated HVAC systems, water heaters, and light fixtures, which use more energy than modern, energy-efficient models. Upgrading to more efficient solutions can lead to lower energy bills and increased customer satisfaction.

In addition to energy consumption, hotel owners and managers should also consider the water bill. According to the EPA, hotels in the United States use an average of 15 gallons of water per room per day. This means that a hotel with 100 rooms can use up to 1,500 gallons of water per day. Installing low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets are effective ways to conserve water and reduce water bills.


Knowing the factors that impact energy and water bills can help hotel owners and managers make informed decisions about energy efficiency and cost management. By implementing sustainable practices and upgrading to modern, energy-efficient systems, hotels can reduce utility bills, increase profitability and minimize their environmental impact.

Property maintenance and repair costs

One of the largest hotel operating costs is the cost of maintaining and repairing assets. This cost component is critical as it allows hotels to present their guests with a high quality product and maintain the overall aesthetic appeal of the building.

The latest statistical data, according to the CBRE report on US hotel operating expenses, showed that property maintenance and repair costs increased by 4.6% in 2018, amounting to ,950 per guest room. available on average. These numbers highlight that hotels need to prioritize property maintenance and repair tasks, always to meet guest expectations and set their property apart from the competition.

Regular maintenance

One way for hotels to minimize property maintenance costs is to conduct regular maintenance activities. This includes periodic checks of electrical and plumbing systems, HVAC units, and building structure. Regular maintenance minimizes the risk of unexpected breakdowns, reduces capital expenditures and improves the customer experience. For example, if guests experience poor air conditioning performance or water leaks, this disrupts their comfort and could negatively impact their overall guest experience.

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Preventive measures

In addition to regular maintenance, hotels can implement preventative measures. These include the installation of high quality components and equipment, fire detection and suppression systems and weather stripping to prevent energy loss. As a result, hotels can prevent overuse of components, extend their lifespan, and reduce maintenance and repair costs. For example, regular duct cleaning and replacement of air filters can significantly improve the efficiency and lifespan of HVAC units.

Appropriate towards sustainability

In addition, hotels can take advantage of sustainability measures thereby reducing water and electricity consumption. These measures include remodeling hotel rooms to feature low-flow toilets, showerheads and energy-efficient light fixtures. This decision will significantly reduce water and electricity consumption and prevent the hotel from incurring high utility costs. However, the initial investment in implementing these measures is significant. Still, it’s worth it, as it brings huge long-term savings and makes the property more attractive to environmentally conscious guests.


In conclusion, property maintenance and repair costs will always be one of the biggest hotel operating expenses, but there are many ways to minimize these costs. Hotels can take the initiative to carry out regular maintenance activities, implement preventive measures and take advantage of sustainability measures. By doing so, they can significantly extend the life of their building components, reduce their operating expenses, and improve their customers’ overall experience.

Marketing and advertising expenses in hotel operating expenses

Marketing and advertising costs are one of the major operating expenses incurred by hotels. In the highly competitive hospitality industry, hotels must allocate a significant portion of their budget to promote their brand, attract new customers and retain existing customers. According to the latest statistical information, hotels in the United States spend an average of ,200 per room per year available for marketing and advertising expenses.

Marketing and advertising expenses may vary depending on the size and type of hotel, location, brand recognition and marketing techniques used. Some hotels may spend more on digital marketing campaigns, while others may invest heavily in traditional advertising methods such as print, radio and TV ads. However, the costs associated with marketing and advertising can be significant, and hotels should monitor these expenses to ensure they are getting the best return on investment.

One of the major marketing and advertising expenses is the cost of media placements. This includes the cost of managing advertisements in newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online media. Hotels may also need to pay for creative services, such as graphic design and copywriting, to develop effective advertisements that resonate with their target audience.

Another major component of marketing and advertising expenses is the cost of promotional activities, such as events, sponsorships, and partnerships. Hotels often participate in local or regional events to promote their brand and connect with potential guests. Likewise, they can collaborate with other brands or organizations to offer exclusive offers and packages to their customers.

Additionally, digital marketing has become increasingly important for hotels to reach their audience. Hotels should invest in effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising strategies to improve their online visibility and rank higher on search engine results pages ( SERPs). Social media marketing is another vital part of digital marketing that allows hotels to create engaging content and build meaningful relationships with their audience.

In conclusion, marketing and advertising costs are a crucial part of hotel operating expenses. The costs associated with these expenses can add up quickly, but hotels need to make the investments to promote their brand and attract new guests. By closely adopting effective marketing and advertising strategies and hotel monitoring, hotels can maximize their return on investment and remain competitive in the hospitality industry.

  • Media placements: The cost of delivering advertisements in print, radio, television and online media.
  • Promotional activities: Cost of events, sponsorships and partnerships.
  • Digital Marketing: Includes SEO, PPC, and Social Media Marketing.
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Food and beverage costs in hotel operating costs

When calculating hotel operating costs, food and beverage expenses are an important factor to consider. It includes costs associated with breakfast, lunch, dinner and any refreshments provided, such as coffee or tea. According to recent statistics from the US Food and Beverage Cost Control Report, the average hotel in the United States spends approximately ,200 per available room on food and beverage expenses each year.

One of the largest expenses in this category is labor costs. A significant portion of the food and beverage team’s salaries is spent serving and preparing food and beverages. On average, a hotel spends around 35% of its food and beverage revenue on labor costs. Additionally, the cost of food, alcohol, and other supplies needed to serve meals can also add up.

Another cost factor includes kitchen equipment and maintenance expenses. For example, a high-end restaurant typically requires a larger kitchen, which means more cooking equipment, storage, and ventilation systems. Regular maintenance and upgrades to ensure equipment reliability can also add to these expenses.

One way to manage food and beverage costs in hotels is to diversify their offering. Although a hotel may have its own restaurant, some hoteliers also offer alternative dining options such as room service, a cafe or a bar. Providing affordable, high-quality food and beverage options that cater to diverse tastes and preferences can increase revenue and customer satisfaction. Likewise, employing an experienced food and beverage manager to ensure efficient operations can help reduce unnecessary expenses.

Finally, it is essential to regularly monitor and adjust the food and beverage cost structure. Analyzing performance metrics, such as food cost percentage, beverage cost percentage, and inventory turnover, can help identify areas for potential improvement. With accurate information and data, hoteliers can adjust prices, modify menus and make strategic opportunities to reduce costs without compromising service quality.

  • In conclusion
  • Food and beverage expenses are one of the biggest operating costs for hotels. It includes labor costs, supply costs, equipment and maintenance.
  • The average hotel in the United States spends about ,200 per available room on food and beverage costs per year.
  • Diversifying food and beverage offerings and employing experienced staff and monitoring costs can help hotels reduce expenses while maintaining service quality.


Hotel operating costs are made up of different factors such as labor, energy, maintenance and supplies. A crucial factor that is becoming more important in the hospitality industry is technology and software spending. According to a recent survey by Hospitality Technology, hotels in the United States spend an average of ,000 per available room each year on technology and software expenses.

The survey found that this amount is expected to increase over the next few years as hotels invest more in advanced technologies to improve their guest experiences. It is estimated that hotels will invest an average of 7.5% of their total revenue on technology and software spending in 2021.

One area where hotels are spending heavily on technology and software is guest-facing platforms. Mobile apps, web portals and social media are increasingly becoming essential tools for hotels to engage with their guests and provide them with the necessary information and services. According to the survey, hotels spend between ,000 and ,000 per month on guest-facing platforms.

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Another area where hotels are investing in technology and software is property management systems (PMS). A PMS helps hotels manage front desk operations, reservations, inventory, housekeeping, and accounting. The survey found that hotels spend an average of ,000 per year on PMS systems.

In addition to guest-driven platforms and PMS, hotels are also investing in revenue management systems, point-of-sale (POS) systems, data analytics software, and security systems. The survey showed that hotels spend an average of ,000 per year on revenue management systems, ,000 per year on POS systems, and ,000 per year on data analytics software.

  • Guest-facing platforms: ,000 – ,000 per month
  • Property management systems: ,000 per year
  • Revenue Management Systems: ,000 per year
  • Point of sale systems: ,000 per year
  • Data analysis software: ,000 per year

It should be noted that technology and software expenses vary depending on the size of the hotel and the level of sophistication of the systems used. Larger hotels tend to spend more on technology due to the complexity of their operations. However, smaller hotels can also benefit from investing in technology and software to improve their operations, increase efficiency, and deliver better guest experiences.

It’s obvious that technology and software expenses are a big driver of hotel operating costs. As the industry becomes savvier, hotels will need to continue to invest in advanced technology and software to stay competitive and meet guest expectations.

Insurance and liability costs

When operating a hotel, it is important to consider the expenses incurred through insurance and liability costs. Insurance protects against unexpected accidents, damages, theft and natural disasters, while liability coverage is essential in the event of legal action against the hotel.

According to recent statistics, the average annual cost of insurance for a hotel is ,000. However, this can vary greatly depending on factors such as hotel location, size, and insurance coverage needed. For example, a hotel in a high-risk area for natural disasters may face increased insurance costs.

Another major consideration in terms of insurance is the types of coverage needed. In addition to basic property and casualty insurance, hotels may also require additional coverage for areas such as cyber liability, employment practices liability, and alcohol liability. The cost of these additional policies can add up quickly, but they are necessary to fully protect the hotel and its assets.

In terms of liability costs, the average jury award in hotel-related cases is million. This highlights how important it is for hotels to have liability coverage in place. Liability coverage can protect against lawsuits related to bollards and falls, food poisoning, and other accidents that may occur on the property. Additionally, hotels may need to consider additional liability coverage for areas such as employment practices or data breaches.

Ultimately, insurance and liability costs are a necessary expense for any hotel. Although they may seem expensive, the cost of not having adequate coverage in place can be much higher in the long run. Taking the time to carefully consider the cover needed and working with an experienced insurer can help ensure that hotels are fully protected against unexpected events that may arise.

  • Hotel insurance costs an average of ,000 per year.
  • The cost of insurance may vary depending on location, size and coverage needed.
  • Additional insurance coverage may be required for areas such as cyber liability or alcohol liability.
  • The average jury award in hotel-related cases is million.
  • Liability coverage is essential to protect against lawsuits resulting from accidents on the property.
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Property taxes and other regulatory fees

One of the biggest expenses for hotels is property taxes and other regulatory fees. These expenses may vary depending on location, property size and other factors. According to the latest statistical information available, the average property tax paid by hotels in the United States is approximately .58 per square foot. That means a hotel with 50,000 square feet of space would pay around ,000 in property taxes each year.

Other regulatory fees that hotels may be required to pay include business licenses, building permits, and zoning fees. These fees can vary significantly depending on the city or county where the hotel is located. For example, in New York, the cost of a hotel business license can be as high as ,000 per year, while in smaller cities it can only cost a few hundred dollars.

The costs of property taxes and regulatory fees can have a significant impact on a hotel’s bottom line. In some cases, these expenses can reach 10% of a hotel’s total operating costs. This is a major expense that hotels need to factor into their overall budget.

One way hotels can reduce their property tax costs is to challenge the assessment. Property tax assessments are not always accurate and there may be grounds for a hotel to dispute the assessment and reduce their tax bill. However, the challenge of an appraisal can be a complex process, and hotels may need to seek the assistance of a tax professional.

Another way hotels can minimize their regulatory costs is to work closely with local authorities. Building a good relationship with city and county officials can help hotels navigate the regulatory environment and minimize the fees they are required to pay.

  • Overall, property taxes and regulatory fees are significant expenses for hotels.
  • The amount paid by a hotel can vary greatly depending on location and other factors.
  • Challenging property tax assessments and building good relationships with local officials can help hotels minimize these expenses.

Given the high cost of property taxes and regulatory fees for hotels, it is important for hotel operators to carefully budget for these expenses and explore all available options to minimize them.


Running a successful hotel involves monitoring and managing a variety of expenses. While these operating costs are necessary, they can quickly add up and negatively impact a hotel’s bottom line. In this article, we explored various operating costs that hotels incur every day and how they impact the industry.

  • Employee salaries and benefits, which can account for up to 50% of a hotel’s total operating cost.
  • Housekeeping and cleaning expenses, which are essential to maintaining a hygienic and comfortable environment for customers.
  • Utility and energy bills, which can be substantial due to the high energy consumption associated with hotel operations.
  • Property maintenance and repair costs result from regular upkeep and renovations to ensure the hotel remains attractive to guests.
  • Marketing and advertising costs, which are essential to attract guests and remain competitive in a crowded market.
  • Food and beverage costs, which are necessary for hotels that offer catering services, but can also contribute to significant expenses.
  • Technology and software spending, which is becoming increasingly important as hotels integrate more digital tools and services to improve guest experiences.
  • Insurance and liability costs, which are necessary to protect the hotel against risks and liability claims.
  • Property taxes and other regulatory fees, which may vary depending on hotel location and local laws.

By understanding and effectively managing these operating costs, hotels can improve their overall profitability and succeed in a highly competitive industry.