A few years ago, Javier del Sol, Program Manager and Lecturer in Revenue Management and Rooms Division Management at Les Roches, set out his thoughts on the future of the hotel’s all-important housekeeping department. Now we’ve asked Javier to revisit the topic from a 2019 perspective…
1) In a busy hotel environment, can sustainable housekeeping practices be combined successfully with service efficiency?
I would still say yes, but as before with limitations. We’ve seen evidence that environmentally sustainable measures, while still evolving, have the potential to improve housekeeping performance – at the same time significantly reducing energy and water consumption, as well as waste generation. These actions need to be supported by the implementation of an environmental plan, including appropriate guidelines, policies, and training as set out by the hotel’s management team.
2) What technology and housekeeping solutions can we expect to see in the future?
I continue to think that rather than seeing completely new products emerging, we will see further development and redesign of existing products. The traditional housekeeping carts are still being improved in terms of their usability and safety; washing and drying machines can now process heavier loads while using less water and energy. There is also increasing use of mobile and tablet-based solutions specifically developed for housekeeping purposes.
3) Notorious for high staff turnover, how can the industry increase the retention of housekeepers?
One way of improving staff retention is to adopt a more positive and supportive style of managing staff members: instead of looking for mistakes, supervisors should focus on constant improvement and support.
In addition, by gathering employees’ feedback, managers can learn more about their desires and motivations, which they should take into account when adopting new measures. Last but not least, housekeeping staff should have the opportunity to be involved in the company philosophy and development.
Incidentally, when I originally addressed this topic, Marriott International had just become the first major hotel chain to join ‘The Envelope Please’ initiative, designed to encourage hotel guests to express their gratitude to housekeeping staff by leaving tips and notes of thanks in special envelopes. It’s fair to say that the initiative divided opinion and it was quickly shelved by the company. Certainly no Silver Bullet.
4) How important is on-going training?
Further education is crucial. Having access to professional training allows staff members to refresh their knowledge and improve their performance. It is a tool to motivate staff, reduce absenteeism and accidents, generate more contact and communication within and across departments and increase staff involvement and participation when working together to improve standards.
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