By Vince Barrett

Vice President

Last year we had a revelation at our annual corporate staff meeting.  While it wasn’t exactly biblical or earth shattering, it was one of those “ah ha” moments.

It occurred to us that even though housekeeping is the very essence of hospitality,  the way we deliver that service hasn’t changed much in 25 years.

Even though the rooms have become far more complex to clean, we were still expecting housekeepers to complete the same number of rooms per shift with the same old tools.  That’s not fair to them, and it frankly wasn’t the best use of human or financial resources.

So, we developed an entirely new approach to housekeeping, one that began with respect for the associates and the essential work they perform and ended with guest satisfaction and owners’ return on investment.

We identified and purchased new tools to make the job easier, like mops with extension handles that eliminate the need to squat to clean floors, or stand on bathtub surrounds to clean high places.  We also developed a manual of step-by-step procedures and trained every associate on the entire program.

Six months into the rollout, the initial feedback has been remarkable.  The associates report feeling appreciated and valued and they’re referring friends and family members for open positions.  They’re finishing work on time and need fewer aspirin at the end of the day.  They like knowing what’s expected of them and how to deliver on the expectation.  They particularly like being involved in setting goals and enjoy the celebrations that follow when the goals are met.

Room turnaround time has dropped significantly and guest satisfaction ratings have jumped.  We’re able to honor more early check-in requests and we’ve improved productivity in the majority of hotels in our portfolio. We also anticipate that YOY, there will be fewer call-outs and fewer injuries.

These are tangible, bottom line improvements driven by a culture of respect for the importance of quality work and the people who perform it.

We spend a lot of time and money keeping up with changing guest expectations, but the most fundamental expectation is a clean, crisp room, and we cannot afford to forget that – or the people who make it happen.