Housekeeping is one of the most critical departments in any successful hotel operation. No hotel will last long without a dedicated housekeeping team efficiently turning over rooms to make way for new guests. Nobody wants to stay in a hotel room that hasn’t been serviced by housekeeping.
As David Sebastian pointed out in the Wall Street Journal in May of 2021, “Travelers this summer could notice something they may not have seen before: The person who checked them in is the same person who helps clean their room.”
This less than ideal reality was confirmed throughout the summer and into the fall of 2021 through a slew of articles and reports posted across hospitality trade publications and national media enumerating the reasons for the crisis.
However, the news isn’t all bad. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Hotels across the world have found new and innovative ways to streamline their operations, and this includes the all-important category of hotel housekeeping duties.
Top hotel management strategies for streamlining hotel housekeeping duties include:
Create cleaning plans for each type of room
Ensure cleaning supplies are fully stocked
Supply additional equipment to ease the burden on staff
Leverage technology to improve coordination and communication
Contract out for regular deep cleaning
Shadow your housekeeping team to identify optimization opportunities
Deploy maintenance checklists for every shift
Update training resource for new hotel housekeeping staff hires
By including these strategies and tactics into your management plan, your hotel will be able to optimize hotel housekeeping duties to a manageable level during this historic staffing shortage and position yourself for increased efficiency in a post-pandemic world.
Let’s now take a brief look at each of the above ways to streamline hotel housekeeping duties in detail.
1. Create Cleaning Plans for Each Type of Room
When striving for scale and efficiency, it’s always a good idea to employ a methodological approach to any task.
Put more simply — it’s best to have a plan before you attempt to do anything big. Cleaning various types of rooms of any significant number falls into this category.
Putting together a game plan for attacking the various room types in your hotel, such as standard rooms, deluxe rooms and suites, will help ensure your housekeeping staff conducts a thorough cleaning on every room, every time. You can also include estimates for how much time each cleaning task inside a room should take, so your housekeepers have a rough idea of how long they should spend making beds, cleaning bathrooms, etc.
The development of cleaning plans for each room type provides two key benefits to hotel management:
It increases productivity among your housekeeping staff
It assures management that rooms are being cleaned properly and thoroughly
2. Ensure Cleaning Supplies Are Fully Stocked
Fully stocking cleaning supplies may seem like a rather basic component of a well-functioning housekeeping operation, but, as Michael Jordan said, “Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
Ensuring cleaning supplies are stocked and ready to go at the beginning of every shift ensures your staff spends less time prepping and more time cleaning rooms. Additionally, it’s a good idea, particularly for hotels of larger size, to ensure all janitorial closets and cleaning stations are well-stocked and distributed evenly throughout the property, so staff members spend less time replenishing supplies.
3. Supply Additional Equipment To Ease the Burden on Staff
It should be noted that housekeeping is genuinely physically hard work. Your staff members are spending hours a day on their hands and knees, bending down and standing up, pushing carts and expending elbow grease. Any steps you can take to make their jobs physically easier will improve efficiency and (no doubt) improve employee satisfaction.
Knees pads, higher quality dusters and vacuums, and any other number of material upgrades can go a long way toward streamlining your hotel’s housekeeping duties.
4. Leverage Technology To Improve Coordination and Communication of Hotel Housekeeping Duties
Life without technology is often more difficult than it needs to be for many members of a hotel’s staff, and this is especially true for those working in the housekeeping department.
As a recent Canary Technology blog post noted about the current state of hotel housekeeping, “...[housekeeping] staff often have to guess when rooms open up. Not only can this be bothersome for guests, but the process itself is highly inefficient.”
However, hotels that offer guests the ability to checkout via their mobile phone (also known as Contactless Checkout) can ensure their housekeeping staff knows immediately when a guest has left, when they plan to leave, or if extra time in the room was requested — all in real time!
Housekeepers are generally meant to thoroughly clean a large number of rooms each day. However, thoroughly doesn’t necessarily mean everything. Your housekeeping staff doesn’t have the time or resources to do actual deep cleaning, such as shampooing rugs.
To ensure the rooms in your hotel are consistently guest-ready, it’s best to have a team of outside experts come in and conduct a deep cleaning on a regular basis. This allows your housekeeping staff to focus on the routine daily cleaning and turn over more rooms throughout the day.
6. Shadow Your Housekeeping Team To Identify Optimization Opportunities
Nothing quite educates an individual like firsthand experience. If you’re in a management position at a hotel, you may want to consider joining a housekeeping shift to see how your staff operates in real-time. This can provide a variety of opportunities to identify areas of improvement and make recommendations across the organization that can help streamline hotel housekeeping duties.
7. Deploy Maintenance Checklists for Every Shift
Outside of a guest, a member of your housekeeping team is likely to be the first person to notice when something isn’t working properly or is broken inside a room. A burned out lamp light, a radiator on the fritz, or a busted door hinge — these are all common occurrences your housekeeping staff are likely to come across frequently, but aren’t necessarily equipped to deal with.
Providing every housekeeping shift with a pre-formatted checklist in which they can call out any room amenities and basic features that need the attention of a maintenance team preempts your staff from having to keep track of these issues on their own and report them individually.
8. Update Training Resources for New Hotel Housekeeping Staff Hires
COVID-19 changed the game in all kinds of ways for the hospitality industry, and housekeeping departments across the globe were hit with never-before-seen challenges. From new standards of cleanliness to new ways of thinking about operations, changes have been widespread.
To ensure you are able to onboard new staff hires efficiently — and get them turning over rooms as quickly as possible — you should update any training materials you have with the latest standards and operational procedures.
When housekeeping coverage is spread thin, it’s best to get as many properly-trained hands on deck as quickly as possible.
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