Efficiency is key in all hotel operations, but it’s especially important in housekeeping. With a labyrinth of rooms and guests slipping in and out, clipboards and printed reports are sometimes the only compass housekeepers have to navigate through their daily tasks. But thankfully employee communication and property-management-system experts are providing a better way to get the job done with mobile housekeeping services.
StayNTouch is seeing a rise in clients looking for more efficiency with their housekeeping staff. “We have noticed more hotels adopting a mobile approach to how assignments are made,” said Ryan King, the PMS company’s director of strategic partnerships. “This means they are accessing real-time information from the PMS instead of the traditional method of printing out lists and assigning tasks in the morning.”
Rooms are turned faster and housekeeping staff is able to operate more efficiently and distribute assignments more effectively. “Now when a room is turned to clean a supervisor can walk to the room and do their inspection rather than going down to housekeeping and getting an update on rooms in ‘clean’ status,” King said. “This allows the housekeeping department to turn over rooms quicker to the front-office team.”
Technology allows the room inspector, front desk and management to see a room’s status automatically. “No more back and forth calling housekeepers to see if a room is clean. Also, if there are special requests or tasks that need completed, all the information is readily available,” said Diane Colette, director of operations for RoomChecking, a hotel operations technology platform.
Maestro PMS President Warren Dehan agreed that real-time information is key for mobile housekeeping. “This saves time because once the housekeeping staff updates a room status it is updated in the PMS system in real-time,” he said. “The front desk is notified of a ‘room clean and inspected’ status for a priority guest waiting on property, and the guest in turn is instantly notified via text/SMS message that their room is ready and keys are ready for pick up. This smoothes the guest’s experience.”
This makes operations easier for hotels since the housekeeping department is not dependent on reports printed in the morning that quickly go stale. “With the app providing real-time updates to housekeeping staff and the front desk, the entire operation is integrated, thus reducing errors, making cleaned rooms available faster and improving the guest experience,” Dehan said.
By digitizing the day-to-day workflow for housekeeping departments, Quore has improved the speed at which inspectors are notified of a change in room status, said Ryan Kelly, VP of product for the operations software company. “For example, our integration with our maintenance solution also allows room attendants to enter a work order during the cleaning of a room,” he said. “This maximizes efficiency and decreases wait time on completing work orders.”
This solution gives housekeepers more insight into the room and also allows them to enter data like start/stop times and/or request fulfillments, which provides supervisors with a real-time view of the hotel.
Alex Shashou, president and co-founder of hotel-operations platform Alice, said this year is the year of housekeeping for the operations platform. “In the past, housekeeping has been a siloed technology, but we are looking at connecting all of the hotel technologies to optimize the performance of the hotel staff,” he said.
The company is releasing its mobile housekeeping this summer and is looking for hotel beta customers right now. Alice’s housekeeping component will focus on a few key beneficial, time-saving processes, starting with helping the housekeeping manager distribute the rooms, then tracking the cleaning process, and then allowing for communications notifying order changes or rush rooms—all done on mobile, thus speeding up the once-lengthy process.
Through mobile, housekeeping staff can communicate with their supervisors, request more rooms to clean, notify housekeeping runners to bring needed items and contact maintenance.
“Mobile cuts down on all of that noise that normally happens and allows housekeeping to do its job,” Shashou said.
There is a larger industry trend of giving guests greater control of their stay, Kelly said, through mobile apps, SMS and other in-room technologies. “With so much of that experience in the hands of the housekeeping department, connecting the two to provide a seamless transfer of information back and forth between guests and staff is a no-brainer,” he said.
Innovations on the guest side of Alice include allowing the guest to determine cleaning times and turndown services. Housekeeping will connect with concierge services so housekeeping can take care of cleaning while the guest is at dinner. “The aim is to connect the whole hotel through mobile,” Shashou said.
Another issue that greatly impacts the guest experience is training.
“In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to communicate with all of your housekeeping staff, regardless of language spoken, is crucial,” said Connie Rheams, VP of hospitality for Beekeeper, an employee communication app. “Beekeeper has allowed hotels to streamline training and important announcements around room layout, design and products.”
This makes hotels more efficient because of the instant speed of technology and the ability to disseminate new housekeeping training programs in mere minutes to the entire team in their native language, thus increasing the rate of the programs adoption, Rheams continued. The next steps in mobile housekeeping products will be to go beyond housekeeping and focus on connecting housekeepers to each and every other department so all housekeepers can communicate in real-time with other departments, Rheams said.
Shashou said another housekeeping innovation will provide a management layer to mobile so they can understand the performance of their housekeeping services. Since services can be measured, management can see how the department is improving based on a quality score, which can be tracked over a period of time.