The competitive advantage
The competitive advantage
In a highly competitive hospitality business, housekeeping can set you apart from your competitors. While it establishes the brand value and reputation of a hotel, the challenges lie in attracting good talent to the housekeeping department which has one of the largest number of employees, and constantly motivating them. By Express Hospitality
In the hotel industry, the function of housekeeping is not just about squeaky clean rooms – it is also a competitive advantage. Housekeeping can be a differentiator for a hotel and establish its brand value and reputation in the market. It is imperative for any hotel company to set high benchmarks in housekeeping if it wants to attract new guests and repeat clientele. For a guest, the first impression that he forms of a hotel as soon as he enters is how well the housekeeping job has been executed. The fact that housekeeping is also the department that has one of the largest number of personnel, makes it very important for the management to constantly focus on the HR aspects, attract and retain good talent, which is of course one of the biggest challenges.
Housekeeping staff are the silent workforce who uphold the brand and ensure the success of the hotel through excellence in service. Responsible for keeping the rooms and facility clean, comfortable and safe, the housekeeping department comprises personnel across various levels – from executive housekeepers to executives to assistants and supervisors. “As one of the most integral departments within the hotel, the housekeeping department is responsible for the immaculate care and upkeep of all guest rooms and public spaces. A consistent product always plays a vital role in the success of any organisation. In a competitive hotel market, it is service standard and cleanliness that really makes an impact on our guests and determine whether they will return,” says Ruchika Kapoor, director Housekeeping, The Park, New Delhi.
Reiterating that housekeeping is the backbone of hotel operations, Raghu Sapra, director of rooms –Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, states, “Housekeeping makes or breaks your image and helps in building brand value. It’s an intangible barometer that defines the success and stance of any hotel.” Ather Raza, executive housekeeper, Goa Marriott Resort affirms that over the years housekeeping has become one of the major and most important aspect of hospitality. It is one of the ways to set a hotel apart from its competitors. In addition, housekeeping establishes a hotel’s reputation for cleanliness and quality. It is vital for a hotel to have a strong housekeeping department.
In the highly competitive hospitality sector, two -thirds of the jobs available are service jobs. “All of the services offered by the hotel industry can be duplicated from one location to another, from one country to another. Housekeeping can differentiate a hotel from its competitors,” states Pallavi Wete, executive housekeeper, Fortune Select Exotica, Navi Mumbai. While the housekeeping staff continue to oversee everything from guest rooms, public areas, laundry, linen, horticulture, flower arrangement etc, interestingly, the perception regarding housekeeping has witnessed a change in recent times. “Earlier, considered a back of the house operations, the perception has undergone a sea change. Now, not just managers and supervisors, but staff at all levels including housekeepers are being encouraged to interact with guests,” says Geeta A Sundrani, director, Oasis Human Resources.
Outsourcing of housekeeping services has been a trend that has been growing in popularity over the years. Kalpataru’s Hospitality & Facility Management Services is focused on providing housekeeping services to the hospitality sector and with a a 5000 strong workforce is one of the largest facility management services across India. The company lays a lot of emphasis on training its personnel. Before a staff member is deputed on the job, he has to undergo training at the inhouse training centre. Senior personnel provide both onsite and off site training.
Safety and security
It is critical for a housekeeping associate to be vigilant and report out any suspicious activity or guest on guest floors. “Housekeeping is the eyes and ears of a hotel. Though the corridors have surveillance cameras, a vigilant housekeeper always gives an upper hand. At the Marriott we have a surveillance detection programme called ‘See something, Say something.’ It is mandatory for a housekeeper to undergo this programme. Regular trainings by our Loss Prevention Department and various awareness programmes keeps them sensitised towards this aspect,” states Raza. Sapra adds that there are regular briefings and updates shared with associates to keep them aware of likely dubious situations and placements.
“Sensitising team members to the aspect of security/safety is an on going process by way of training and daily briefings. The staff is briefed on the various aspects of security and safety by way of the standard operating procedures formulated for the hotel in general and also department specific,” says Kapoor.
Finding the right personnel for housekeeping can often be a complex process – the truth remains that despite being a a function that is vital for the hotel business and performance, the brightest of hotel management graduates do not always opt to work in this department. Their choice is focused on customer facing roles, not as a part of a department that works in the background. “Most clients are elite and upscale people of the society thus inducting a lot of glamour to the job. F&B service and front office get an opportunity to interact with these clients. A chefs job too involves a lot of recognition by showcasing their culinary skills. Those who work in housekeeping are silent workers, who tend to be ignored. It is therefore the last option for most hotel management student,” explains Sundrani. Hence the right fit and motivation is important for a housekeeping associate.
It is not an easy task for any hotel company to constantly motivate this vast section of their workforce who mostly work in the background. Retention is a business imperative which cannot be achieved without engaged and motivated employees. The future of housekeeping will be redefined by innovation and setting new trends in understanding and meeting customer expectations.