Housekeeping takes training shift

Two full years into the pandemic, hotel housekeeping looks very different from the way it did in 2019. Housekeepers are no longer simply tidying up a room and making a bed, but are making sure the room is completely sanitized between guests, limiting the risk of viral spread.

New Normals

Housekeepers at Davidson Hospitality’s properties have to spend an additional five to eight minutes deep cleaning each guestroom in between stays. “This is offset at varying levels by spending less time in the guestroom during the stay itself, dependent upon the hotel type, brand and mix of business,” COO Pete Sams said. “Another trend from a brand perspective is the shift to opting into daily service versus opting out.” While this means fewer net cleans, Sams said the number of requests the team receives for daily service is “an elusive and moving target,” which creates challenges in determining appropriate staffing on a daily basis. 

According to Stephanie Box, VP of operations at Spire Hospitality, the company also is seeing housekeepers spend more time in each room. “With housekeeping transitioning to turnover service, the cleaning process is turning into a partial deep clean,” she said. With fewer members of a hotel’s staff spending time in a guestroom during a typical stay, Box noted that there are fewer opportunities to spot maintenance issues. The turnover process, then, now tends to include minor repairs like changing light bulbs or replacing batteries in some devices. 

Managers are “thinking outside of the box” to meet the needs of their hotels as hiring remains low, Box continued. In some cases, a worker will come in early to strip guestrooms of linen and trash, while others are pairing staff up to improve efficiency. Similarly, Sams said managers at Davidson properties often will send in another worker to strip a room and collect trash before a housekeeper arrives to properly clean the room. “The room clean itself is still typically a one-person job,” Sams said. 


Educating new team members at Davidson properties has remained largely unchanged since the pandemic began, Sams said, apart from explaining the enhanced cleaning practices. “Our standard is a minimum of 10 days prior to conducting an initial certification, but training is an ongoing process that includes inspections, feedback and retraining when needed,” he said. Training includes a set of standard operating procedures that specify how to set up a housekeeping cart, the cleaning solutions and necessary tools as well as a cleaning checklist—“which provides the foundation of our training process and gives our team members the tools they need to help ensure consistency,” Sams said.

At Spire, meanwhile, the “ramp time” to prepare new team members to handle the number of rooms they need to clean can stretch to more than two weeks, Box said. “Support of new team members through the training process is key to setting them up for success. This can come with gradually adding rooms over the course of the training or assisting by prepping the room prior to the housekeepers starting the full cleaning process.” 

Training, Box added, is an ongoing process as management identifies opportunity areas: “The standards are evolving with the brands and guest needs.”