Hospitality services sector has traditionally been more of a person to person connection. Perhaps it is the only sector which keeps the traditional values alive along with the turn-down services with the very reasonable facts that they can be used to enhance service and communication with guests. Speaking to Clean India Journal, Shilpa Kosambia, Executive Housekeeper, Sofitel BKC, Mumbai avers, “Housekeeping must be looked at as an investment and not as expense; in order to maintain a magnificent guest experience, housekeeping needs to work round the clock in hospitality sector.”
How important is it to ‘go green’ in hospitality sector?
‘Go Green’ has gained utmost importance in hospitality sector in recent days. It’s the latest trend happening. Sofitel participates in ‘Planet 21’ Program which involves a lot of eco-friendly practices like requesting guests to reuse linen, using recycled products etc.
Is it still an expense or looked at as an investment?
Yes, we do have an annual budget for housekeeping. Sofitel being a luxury property, housekeeping is looked as an investment. With the trend in housekeeping changing drastically, we need to invest in maintaining the global hospitality standards. Point of Sale areas such as laundry and florist can be a profit generating.
In order to maintain the luxury standards, we need to invest in costly machines and products which at times can become a challenge. However, we do not compromise on this. The costs are well planned and are adjusted.
The rising customer expectations demand that we use advanced equipment and cleaning agents while maintaining the global standards. We use branded linen which is 400TC and micro fibre dusters in cleaning. Also hi-tech devices like media hub, i-pod dock are present in rooms.
Indian Housekeeping has benefited substantially with modern technology. Today, hi-tech machines are used in scrubbing & mopping floors which was earlier done using manpower and which is definitely more effective and less time consuming.
How are the high traffic areas being maintained?
As a housekeeping department of a luxury property, it becomes very important for us to constantly maintain a check in high traffic areas. Each Department takes on the responsibility to maintain its area and keep it clean up to the standards required, hence if the department finds it in poor condition, we are informed or often the respective staff members clean the area themselves.
Is training the key in establishing standards in cleanliness and hygiene?
Training is definitely required in establishing standards in cleanliness and hygiene. Every new employee is given training on housekeeping in order to make him/her familiar with our standard operating procedures. Also refresher trainings are given to each cleaning ambassador in order to maintain luxury standards.
We conduct more practical trainings compared to theoretical. We train our staff using visuals or pictorial presentation in order to make it exciting.
What are the challenges faced by housekeepers?
Keeping the employee motivated, as housekeeping is a job which involves a lot of energy and positive thinking for cleaning a room and bathroom with dusters, mops. We have ambassadors who are from hotel schools as well as experienced ones so there is a mix of talent. Biggest challenge faced by a housekeeper is to keep the cleaning staff motivated as cleaning rooms can be seen as a monotonous job. Cleaning requires patience and optimistic thinking. We overcome this by conducting regular trainings along with ambassador awards and recognition activities.
In an outsourcing model, the biggest challenge that can be faced by the hotel is the quality of the staff, hence we expect staff which are well trained, decently groomed and have good communication skills.