Housekeeping speed, efficiency hinge on planning ahead

The success of the housekeeping depends on planning and adaptability. Photo credit: Getty/yacobchuk

General managers might get all the glory, but much of a hotel’s success can be traced back to the housekeeping department. Clean guestrooms and public spaces go a long way toward boosting guest satisfaction, but the process only works when the department operates with efficiency and safety.

Efficiency in the housekeeping department all boils down to planning. Mapping out a precise strategy for accomplishing daily tasks gets guestrooms and other areas cleaned as quickly as possible while minimizing any hiccups. However, speed can only come from a well-trained housekeeping team. “Housekeeping is really all about the basics and really knowing those basics well,” said Rick Takach, CEO and chairman of hotel management company Vesta Hospitality. “As long as your team is very well-trained, that’s your best way to make sure things are running smoothly and you’re getting your rooms done as quick as possible.”

Takach emphasized that finding the right labor and taking care of those employees is one of the biggest challenges today. Housekeeping is a tough job physically, and training staff in the hotel’s housekeeping strategy provides a safe and organized work environment that helps hotels retain staff and reduce turnover.  

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To address the needs of their guests and increase savings, hotels constantly re-evaluate their methods to achieving speedy and efficient housekeeping. Here are three methods professionals say will enhance this department.

Photo credit: Getty/DragonImages

1. Prioritization

Set daily priorities before sending out the team. Aligning guests’ needs with the services and standards of cleanliness will allow staff to choose which areas are necessary to clean on a particular day. Much of this can be decided based on a hotel’s target guest and market level.

Many big industry players have been using software to gain real-time knowledge of guests’ stays to speed up the process. “[Some] big brands have launched different things to talk to the guests about when they are arriving, what they want in the room and having as much knowledge as possible before they arrive that really helps housekeeping be able to strategize, prioritize and make sure they are in the right place at the right time,” said Adria Levtchenko, CEO and co-founder of Purple Cloud Technologies.

It’s also important not to forget the property-management system. Keeping tabs on whether guests have extended or shortened their stays can help housekeeping know when a guestroom is ready for cleaning.

2. Preparation

While a hotel may prioritize cleaning needs, preparing for these tasks is also necessary. Keeping supply closets stocked, assigning guestrooms before staff clock in and gathering more staff members for big cleanups can drastically minimize slowdowns.

In addition, hotel brands are thinking ahead—all the way down to cleaning tools and room design. Many reduce wasted time by supplying staff with mini supply caddies to limit trips to the cart, robotic vacuums to clean floors and different colored microfiber cloths for different surfaces. Design choices also affect housekeeping, according to Emily Wilson, VP, asset management at CHMWarnick.

“For example, the brands are moving toward more hardwood floor options that may be easier to clean or take less time to clean than a carpet would,” she said.

Properties are also planning ahead for the unexpected, including rooms that are trashed. Flexibility and communication are critical in situations like these to prevent hold-ups. While this can be overwhelming, assembling housekeeping task forces designated for these situations can allow the department to tackle messy cleanups with speed. 

Photo credit: Getty/kadmy

3. Sustainability

In addition to preparation, reducing the list of tasks can further speed up cleaning. Many hoteliers have been pushing “go green” initiatives, which offer guests the option to limit the cleaning that takes place during their stay at the hotel while enhancing housekeeping efficiency and savings, especially in time, laundry and environmental costs.

Informing guests of this option is handled in part through cards or door hangers in guestrooms, often using a fun tag that stands out. Levtchenko said that in a study conducted by Purple Cloud, a hotel the company partners with saw great success in its own “go green” initiative—a lime green frog imploring guests, “Save me and my friends!” “So many more guests go green because they actually see the option to go green,” she said.

Other hotels run contests that award prizes for the neatest room or offer a free glass of wine to those who opt out of room cleaning. Getting creative while involving guests can be that little extra push many hotels need to boost savings in time and money.