Learn 5 tips to prevent smoking at your hotel, keeping your guests happy and your cleaning costs low.
November 29, 2023
“We rented room #224 for one night, a non-smoking room, and when we arrived the room smelled really bad. Surely someone who smokes had been there before. My daughter is asthmatic and went into crisis, coughing all night. The night there was terrible…”*
This 1-star review from a Miami hotel says it all: Guests smoking at your hotel can lead to bad stays and negative reviews—a 2023 study conducted by PlanetWare analyzed 8 million TripAdvisor hotel reviews, ultimately finding that the smell of smoke in rooms to be the most common guest complaint.**
Prohibiting smoking helps you ensure a safe and positive experience for every guest, with hotels that adopt a 100% smoke-free policy showing an average of 26% fewer tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and cannabis (TEC) complaints than hotels that permit smoking in some of their rooms.***
However, simply telling your guests you have a no-smoking policy isn’t enough to keep your hotel smoke-free. That’s why in this article, we cover five tips for maintaining a smoke-free hotel, helping you bring in more 5-star reviews while keeping your cleaning and maintenance costs low.
Smoking regulations in hotels vary depending on where you’re located—for example, in the United States, just seven states have state laws that require all hotel and motel rooms to be smoke-free.
However, fewer and fewer hotels are choosing to allow their guests to smoke, and there are a number of reasons for this.John Ryan, owner and managing director of The Ardilaun in Galway, Ireland, states that health and safety are his primary reasons for preventing smoking at his hotel.
Another obvious reason is that smoking leaves a lasting smell. If you want to assign a non-smoking guest a room that another guest has smoked in, you’ll have to take measures to remove the odor, whether that’s an air purifier or ozone generator. According to John, “If someone smokes in a room it can take up to three days to clean the room properly so you can no longer smell the smoke.”
Consequently, keeping your hotel smoke-free helps you save on cleaning costs, which add up over time. Tobacco smoke can also cause damage to your furniture and paint, so prohibiting guests from smoking means fewer repairs and replacements, protecting your spending.
Finally, by preventing smoking at your hotel, you keep all your guests safe and comfortable. The secondhand smoke and fire risk that cigarettes present can cause a negative experience for smoking and non-smoking guests alike, so prohibiting it outright helps you ensure everyone has an enjoyable stay.
5 tips for maintaining a smoke-free hotel
A 2022 study found that “hotels’ failure to protect nonsmokers from TEC exposure is influenced by how they implement and enforce their smoking policies.” Needless to say, simply writing a no-smoking policy into your guidelines isn’t enough to prevent it from happening at your hotel. Follow these five tips to ensure you keep your hotel smoke-free (and your guests happy).
1. Communicate your smoking policies to potential guests
Your guests shouldn’t be caught off guard by your smoking policies, so you shouldn’t rely on signage alone. Be straightforward about your smoking policies, communicating them to guests before they make their reservation and as soon as they book.
Make it clear on your website and online travel agency (OTA) listings that your entire hotel is smoke-free. Just in case guests miss this when making their booking, include a line in your reservation confirmation email reminding them:
We’re thrilled you’ve chosen us for your stay. Just a reminder, our hotel is entirely smoke-free. If you have any questions about this, feel free to reach out to us at [telephone number] or [email address].
Being transparent with guests before check-in helps you avoid any misunderstandings or disputes during a guest’s stay. If a guest really wants to be able to smoke in their room, they’ll know your hotel isn’t for them and they can find one that better suits their preferences.
“Educating your guests is the most effective tool for preventing smoking. In my experience, people are generally compliant, but we remind them via signage (cards in the room) that there's a €150 fine if they smoke.”
Implementing your non-smoking policy means establishing fines and disciplinary actions if guests are to break your rules.
Outline your fines or penalties in multiple places, such as on your website, in reservation confirmation emails, and when guests check in. That way, you cover yourself against guests claiming they didn’t know about your no-smoking regulations.
Additionally, state your reasons for fining guests after smoking. Imagine you charge $100 per smoking incident—explain that this expense covers the cost of an ozone generator and the cleaning fee needed to turn that room back into a non-smoking hotel room.
3. Explain the reasons for your policies
By explaining the reasons for your no-smoking policies, you have a better chance of guests empathizing with you and respecting your regulations. So when outlining your rules, state the benefits of keeping your hotel smoke-free.
Explain how it provides a better and safer experience for all guests, especially ones with respiratory issues—second and thirdhand smoke can have lasting negative effects on health, especially asthma sufferers. Additionally, outline the fact that it helps you keep your hotel in good condition and preserve furniture and linens.
Don’t forget to highlight the dangers of smoking in a hotel room—including fire hazards.
4. Provide designated smoking areas
Creating a designated place for your guests to smoke has two main benefits. By designating a smoking zone in your hotel, guests won’t feel like they have to open up the window in their room or disconnect the smoke detector if they want to light up.
Plus, when you advertise your designated smoking areas to potential guests who smoke, they won’t be discouraged from booking with you—rather, they’ll know their room won’t smell of tobacco but they’ll still have a place to smoke if they please.
So provide a comfortable outdoor and well-ventilated space with ashtrays and seating where guests can vape or smoke e-cigarettes or tobacco. Be sure to create clear signage so guests know where this area is.
5. Install cigarette smoke detectors in your rooms
No matter how many preventative measures you have in place, some of your hotel guests may still choose to break your rules and smoke in their hotel room. To put a stop to this as soon as it happens, install specialized cigarette smoke detectors.
The Minut sensor has AI-powered machine learning technology that is designed to specifically detect cigarette smoke, so it won’t cause false alarms or unnecessary conflicts with guests. As soon as the device detects smoking activity, you get a notification on your smart device. That way, you can call up to the guest’s room or make a visit yourself and stop the smoking immediately.
Plus, the Minut dashboard provides you with a historical log of all smoking activity, which protects you in the case of a dispute with a guest who claims they weren’t smoking and doesn’t want to pay your fine.
A smoke-free hotel: Better for you and your guests
“Nobody wants a smoking room,” states Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce. That’s right, not even smokers. By prohibiting smoking at your hotel, you provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for all your guests, whether or not they smoke.
But to do so, you need to take calculated steps, such as:
Communicating your smoking policies to potential guests
Creating strict no-smoking regulations
Explaining the reasons for your non-smoking policies
Providing designated smoking areas
Installing cigarette smoke detecting devices in your rooms
By following these tips, you’ll be able to keep your hotel smoke-free and your guests happy. In addition, you’ll save money on cleaning costs and maintenance, helping you protect your profits and improve your bottom line.
FAQs about how to keep your hotel smoke-free
How can you detect if guests are smoking in your hotel?
If you want to detect if guests are smoking in your hotel, you should use a cigarette smoke detector like the Minut sensor. This type of device is specifically designed to detect cigarette smoke, so you don’t have to worry about false alarms and wrongly accusing guests.
How do hotels get rid of cigarette smoke?
Some ways hotels get rid of cigarette smoke include using an ozone generator or air purifier to remove toxins from the air and reduce the odor. However, depending on how strong the smoke smell is, completely removing it can be a challenge, which is why it’s always better to use a cigarette smoke detection device to prevent smoking in the first place.