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In the hospitality industry, it is well-known that cleanliness is a crucial factor that affects guest satisfaction and a hotel’s reputation. In addition, the housekeeping department is often the largest unit in terms of payroll and staff numbers, which translates into complex operational challenges. Thus, hoteliers should constantly look for ways to optimize handling the strategically vital department that functions as a speedy and efficient well-oiled machine. Here are 5 essentials to consider for having a booming housekeeping department in 2018:
1. Use the right metrics
Considering that success in housekeeping strongly relies on the individual productivity of chambermaids, micro and macro-level measurements of the department’s efficiency are essential. Establishing a well-defined set of KPIs is key to observing and enhancing departmental performance. A strategic way to implement relevant KPIs is breaking down the housekeeping service in three steps, which are input, process, and output. For the input, metrics such as absenteeism and number of rooms assigned to one employee can be defined. For the process, time spent per room can be an adequate measure (considering the balanced distribution of different room types as some rooms take longer to clean compared to others). Lastly, the output can be evaluated by internal quality checks and guest reviews. Furthermore, managers should also consider the number of work-related injuries and employee turnover as additional metrics, due to the physically demanding and ‘fast-paced’ nature of this department.
2. Ensure rigorous communication and systematic task management
To have a successful hotel with excellent guest satisfaction, all associates should collectively work towards fulfilling that unique objective. Various departments should be interconnected to sustain a continuous flow of information. In order to establish such a frictionless internal communication, hoteliers should consider implementing technology solutions that allow instant communication and systematic task management. A malfunctioning item in the guest room? With just a few clicks on their smart tools, housekeepers should be able to notify the maintenance department to take care of the issue promptly. An unexpected early check-in? With an instant message sent from the reception to the chambermaids, the designated room can be prepared for the guest within the shortest delay. Moreover, the housekeeping department has long depended on a traditional paper-based management strategy. With the adoption of similar smart devices that provide dynamic planning and real-time status updates, hotels can save significant operating costs and upgrade their back of house operations by ensuring maximum efficiency.
3. Train, retrain, and retain
One of the greatest challenges facing hotel operations, particularly housekeeping, is employee turnover. There are many reasons for it, and the magic solution is staff training. Housekeepers are mandated with physically challenging tasks on a daily basis. Performing these routines in incorrect ways often lead to injuries, which result in increased absenteeism, as well as turnover. Conducting staff training that teaches how to move and use the provided equipment correctly – aka. ergonomics – not only ensures increased employee health and wellness, but also higher retention. Furthermore, to provide consistently high-quality service, hoteliers should adopt the following mantra: “Staff training isn’t something you did. It’s something you do.” Providing regular training on SOPs, ergonomics, and fundamental guest interaction skills translate into an aware and well-equipped team that works in an efficient, safe and customer-centric manner. All in all, rigorous staff training creates a win-win-win situation: One where hotels benefit from enhanced operational performance, employees are healthy and happy therefore generating happier guests, and an overall increase in guest satisfaction.
4. Set your operations on a sustainable path
Sustainability is no longer considered primarily as a promotional issue or a niche topic in hospitality. Hotels are continuously taking new initiatives to ‘go green’ with their operations. Given that the housekeeping department is primarily responsible for the cleanliness of the premises, implementing ‘green practices’ can significantly help hotels to reduce their ecological impact. Minimizing the amount of water, energy and chemical consumption, purchasing environmental-friendly cleaning products, and establishing waste management projects are practices that hotels should consider. Furthermore, utilizing smart inventory management tools that actively track guest consumption and stock supplies is another cost-effective method to significantly contribute to hotels’ sustainability efforts. In addition, hoteliers can refer to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines, the world’s forerunner in the environmental certification of buildings, to ensure that they minimize their ecological footprint. Sustainability should be approached holistically – both by the industry and hotels individually – for the sake of the future generations on the planet. Go green, save green!
5. Establish an effective feedback loop
Feedback is a tool for continued learning. Learning from feedback and taking proactive measures are equally important as collecting them. Given that the customer’s voice is louder than ever in today’s reputation economy, hotels often receive negative reviews that damage their reputation. It is crucial that hoteliers master responding to devastating reviews, ensure that the feedback is communicated to the right units and necessary actions are promptly taken. Errors are human and it is only natural that they occur. Instead of punishing, which negatively affects the culture of the team, managers should be constructive in the way they guide their associates to make sure that they have ownership in the business and intrinsically prevent such errors happening in the future. On the other hand, housekeepers should also be honored when guest comments specifically address the excellent service the team has provided. Consequently, valued team members will be aware of how their hard work pays off and will be motivated and empowered to always go the extra mile.
Managing the housekeeping department is a complex balance game: ensuring maximum productivity with quality while keeping employee satisfaction and motivation at a high level. A seamlessly functioning back of house operation is a vital driver of hotel performance and overall guest experience, thus, managers should consider transformational practices to stay ahead of the competition.