While many departments keep hotels and resorts running, there is one that is often overlooked and underappreciated. That is the housekeeping department. Housekeepers are the backbone of the hotel industry. They are the ones who ensure rooms are clean, prepared, and ready to go when guests arrive. Currently, housekeepers are facing five significant issues that aren’t being addressed by the hotel industry. Let’s take a look at what those challenges are and suggest a solution.
1. Lack of Department Communication
Housekeepers are often working alone during their shift which makes communicating with their managers almost impossible, especially in a big hotel or resort. Larger hotel and resorts provide housekeepers with an old two-way radio. Radios are problematic since the signal is not always clear and the receivers can be turned down or off. Lack of communication poses a big problem for many reasons. For example, if housekeepers need extra help cleaning a room, they must waste time looking for management to request additional support. Managers are not always stationed since they have to roam the hotel supervising the rooms are up to hotel standards before guests enter.
Housekeepers need a better way to be able to communicate with each other and their managers. A way to improve communication in the housekeeping department is to provide the housekeepers with a mobile device that allows them to communicate directly with their managers via text, call, and notifications depending on who they need to speak to. Notifications can be sent out when the managers need to send an alert or message to all of the housekeepers. Improved communication will save time and increase productivity.
2. Lack of Department Communication
The housekeeping departments in many hotels and resorts are still stuck using paper-based methods that are inefficient. When starting their shifts, housekeepers receive a sheet of paper indicating the specific rooms that need to be cleaned for the day. The problem with handing the housekeeper a sheet of paper is that it doesn’t show the priority in which the rooms need to be cleaned. Vacant rooms need to be serviced before the occupied ones, but without a way of knowing, housekeepers must knock on each door until reaching an empty room. This paper-based method is inconvenient for the housekeepers and inefficient for the hotel.
Check out time at most hotels tends to be around 11 am. Housekeepers need to know when a guest has checked out as soon as the front desk receives the keys. Having automated alerts sent to the housekeepers on a mobile device that lets the housekeepers know when it is free to enter the room is more efficient because the housekeepers don’t have to wait around for a long time. It also saves the housekeepers from getting stressed out when it is towards the end of their shift, and they still have many rooms to clean.
3. No Insight into Productivity
Productivity can’t be measured using paper-based methods. Unfortunately, many hotels are stuck using traditional time clocks, paper timesheets, and scheduling. Depending on the size of the hotel or resort there are usually a limited number of housekeepers during a shift, each in charge of their section. The challenge occurs when a housekeeper calls out sick, and the manager must immediately find a replacement for that shift. Scheduling using paper-based methods makes it difficult to find a replacement and comply with labor laws by making sure that the person being asked to come in isn’t being overworked. Managers need an automated system that lets them know who is available for replacement. Managers can then update the schedule and make changes when they need to.
With zero visibility into productivity, managers need a form of tracking productivity to hold housekeepers accountable for their work. Improving productivity is vital for being able to manage a workforce more efficiently. Placing NFC tags in every room and having the housekeeper scan the NFC tag before and after they are finished with the room would give managers more insight into productivity. Housekeepers should be able to show before and after pictures of the rooms to be held accountable. Managers would know the amount of time it takes a housekeeper to clean a room and be able to automate reports, perfect for performance tracking.
4. No Insight into Productivity
As mentioned previously, housekeepers are often working alone and because of that can be susceptible to many incidents. Hotel procedure requires all housekeepers to lock the door when servicing a room to prevent attacks. However, that is not always a practical measure because housekeepers are also at risk for injuries since they are exposed to slippery floors when cleaning the bathrooms. When an accident happens, housekeepers need a way to notify their managers immediately, especially if they require medical help.
Housekeepers should feel like they are never alone. Hotels need to invest in a solution that allows housekeepers get the support they need to prevent and prepare for accidents. Housekeepers should be able to send emergency alerts to their managers indicating that something has happened, and they need help. Since housekeepers will be scanning NFC tags each time they are finished cleaning a room, the manager will indicate the location of the housekeeper. Knowing exactly where the housekeeper is located, the manager can take the appropriate measures.
5. No Insight into Productivity
The housekeepers are usually the first ones to notice when guests have left items behind or when something in a room needs to be fixed. Reporting a repair issue can be time-consuming since most reports are done using paper. The process usually entails the housekeeper noticing a problem and informing their manager. The manager then requires the housekeeper to fill out a form indicating a description of the issue that needs to be addressed. The form is sent to the maintenance team where they file it and resolve the issue. The process is long, and repair issues don’t get addressed quickly. It would be more useful if the housekeeper can take a picture and mark what’s broken in the room and add it to the report or the repair ticket, that way the maintenance crew knows what needs to be fixed.
Housekeepers are often blamed when items in a room go missing. If a guest has left an item behind, housekeepers are required to fill out a paper report stating the room number, a description of the item, and the nature in which it was found. A more efficient method would be to take a picture of the item where it was found and add it to a digital report that can be easily accessed when the guest returns to reclaim their item. This method would be useful in situations where there is miscommunication, and the guest claims that not all the contents of the items were returned. A picture can be shown to prove how the housekeeper found the item and depending on the situation, the appropriate actions will follow.
Hotels would benefit in adopting a software solution that can help managers have better communication options, automated internal processes, and better insight into productivity for all their departments, including the housekeeping department which is often forgotten. Hotels can profit from addressing the issues discussed as it will increase housekeeper retention, which is a job that is known to have a high turnover rate.