When Aileen Williamson posted this simple graphic on LinkedIn last week, she had no idea it would "go viral" and hit over 75,000 views and get some 2,500 comments. She hit a nerve.
Aileen is a consultant with over 20 years experience leading housekeeping at properties all around the globe, including overseeing 1,300 rooms at the London 2012 Olympics, but she sees something different now: hotel housekeeping departments are coping with more change than ever before with fewer resources.
“I made this simple graphic because you just don’t have a hotel without housekeeping preparing clean and safe rooms,” says Aileen. “Globally there is a shortage of housekeepers, and recruitment is a hot topic, but housekeeping isn’t put on the same level as the other hotel departments and it should be. Housekeeping needs rebranding to be seen as an entry level to a CAREER in hospitality.”
Especially now, she says, as hotels around the world begin to reopen, “hotels need to think of new ways to support and elevate housekeepers, give them the proper resources, good working conditions, comfortable uniforms, and utilize technology. This is what will enable housekeepers to be more efficient and hotels to be more profitable.”
Housekeeping is a key driver of sustainability practices for hotels, and according to the 2020 Sustainability Report by Booking.com, 82% of travellers think sustainable travel is important, and 70% are more likely to choose an accommodation if it has implemented sustainable practices. “There are so many ways hotels can use a combination of technology, new products and SOPs to minimise the impact of each guest on the environment through improved housekeeping practices,” Aileen continued.
Aileen offers 5 tips as you reopen:
Housekeeping is physically demanding and your team is out of shape. Your team needs to adjust to being back doing full days and multiple room turnovers after months off work, so allow extra time. Know that every turnover gets better, but each room and deep clean takes longer at the outset!
Your guest profile may have changed from mostly business to leisure guests when you reopen. Rooms with 2 - 4 leisure guests require much more work for housekeeping than a single business traveler. Allow for that. Also, make sure reservations and reception don’t over promise things like rollaways or cribs if you have a limited supply.
Updated tools and the use of technology are the way forward for housekeeping. Smart use of new products such as imops, app based room allocation tools and new communication technology can reduce time, save labour, are more eco-friendly, help reduce waste and improve guest satisfaction.
The new cashless society has severely impacted housekeepers earnings. Consider using one of the mobile QR code-based tipping platforms and have it in every room.
Recognize and reward your housekeepers. After all, they are the heart of the house!
Aileen Williamson runs AC Eco, a housekeeping consulting firm committed to helping General Managers save costs and drive revenue through SOP audits, improved technology and streamlined procedures.