The housekeeping team is arguably one of the most hard-working departments in the hospitality industry. Though their work is often unseen (and often taken for granted), housekeeping staff play a pivotal role in one of the most crucial aspects of any hotel — its cleanliness. Today, their work is also more important than ever. Here are some of the challenges room attendants face and what hotel owners can do to help streamline their work.
Housekeeping Is Physically Demanding
During a housekeeper’s 8-hour shift, they are constantly on their feet (or even on their hands and knees). They pull around carts heavy with linen and cleaning supplies, taking them from floor to floor. Along with heavy lifting, there is a lot of repetitive movement from scrubbing and wiping surfaces down, which can impact the joints or back over time. By the time their shift is over, a room attendant will have used every muscle in their body as they work to keep each room sparkling clean.
On top of the physical pressures, housekeepers are also exposed to chemicals for much of their day. If not used and stored correctly, they all have the potential to cause health problems for the housekeeping staff.
Housekeeping Is High Pressure
The housekeeping department is subject to strict protocol not only when it comes to the cleaning itself but also when it comes to time. Individuals at some hotels are expected to clean up to 30 rooms a day (yes, I’ve seen it!) within their 8-hour shift. That leaves less than 20 minutes to take care of every aspect of the room, from changing the bed to cleaning the bath and all the small details in between. Even the average of 14 to 17 rooms during that 8-hour shift puts tremendous pressure on the room attendant.
Housekeeping staff must turn rooms around quickly while maintaining the highest standards. If a guest finds a room improperly cleaned, it could profoundly affect the hotel’s reputation. There is no room for error, with most hotels working to an inspection checklist to ensure that every suite gets the same treatment.
Housekeeping Needs Similar Customer Service Skills As Guest Services Staff
Along with being both physically demanding and high-pressure, a room attendant’s role is also guest-facing. While housekeeping schedules are designed to take place when most guests are out and about, this is not always the case. And when a member of the housekeeping staff interacts with a guest, they are often at the mercy of their schedule and mood.
Just as the Guest Service staff work to keep their guests happy, room attendants must do the same while completing all their tasks quickly and effectively. They must carry out intensive work, all while keeping a smile on their face. Just like cleanliness, these interactions can make a demonstrable difference in how well your hotel is reviewed and can make or break the prospect of a return booking.
New Challenges For Housekeeping Staff
Now, in the wake of COVID-19, a room attendant’s job is harder than ever. On top of the usual cleaning practices, room attendants are now expected to disinfect all surfaces at regular intervals. They provide deeper and more frequent cleaning to all common areas and high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and light switches. All the while, they are expected to wear a mask and keep a safe distance from other housekeeping staff and guests.
This new and enhanced protocol is essential for staff and guest safety and our hotels’ financial future. Guests will now only stay in accommodations where they feel that cleanliness is a top priority. In a recent survey of 7,000 travelers, 75% of respondents said that the hotel they stay in should have clearly defined cleaning standards to combat COVID-19. But, with the travel industry so deeply affected, chances are the housekeeping department is now carrying out these duties with a much leaner team. So, what can we do to make the process easier?
Upkeeply is a desktop and mobile app that streamlines hotel operations. One module of the Upkeeply app is Inspections. Using this module, your room attendants can update the status of a room with a few taps of a screen, allowing you to see at a glance which rooms are clean and which are dirty.
Using the same module, a Housekeeping Supervisor can inspect the room using a predefined checklist, covering everything from the minibar temperature to the cleanliness of the bed (with the option to import your own custom list!) To save time, rather than checking off each item as being clean, the Housekeeping Supervisor will only check off items that are not up to standard. The room attendant will then be able to go back to the room, knowing exactly what needs to be corrected.
Using the Upkeeply Inspections module can greatly impact good housekeeping standards by cutting down on miscommunication and preventing mistakes through clear, consistent guidance. This will also be beneficial to your housekeeping staff by minimizing physical strain from having to go over rooms multiple times and improving morale by streamlining their workflow.
The role of the housekeeping department is a truly challenging one, and in 2020 cleaning staff has faced pressures like never before. But, as we hope our post has shown, they are also a hugely valuable asset to your business. Helping to increase their daily tasks’ efficiency can make a difference to your staff and your profits.
To find out more about Upkeeply and all the other powerful modules that will help optimize your hotel services, we would love to hear from you. Head over to our home page to request more information and find out how Upkeeply can boost your hotel business.
Jeff Bowes has over 35 years of Hotel Software Consulting and Hotel Management experience. He is skilled in hands-on training, analytical skills, sales, software implementation, and hotel management. His true passion is providing customer service, second to none. His focus is on the customer and making sure he develops long-term relationships with all clients. His education includes a diploma in Hotel Management.
Being a casualty of COVID, he is taking his vast experience and passion for the industry. He has developed a proprietary system to help streamline hotel operations and enhance the guest experience. But most of all saves hotels money in this “new normal.”