“I seem to notice a familiar face on the floor. Really? That is me; my reflection on the gleaming marble. That’s what we all face when we enter a hotel. As I worked my way through the hotel the following months, I got an opportunity to know the magician behind the spirit and counter on the first day, was none other than the candid, cordial, smiling and humble housekeeper. I won’t talk about creating memories… Having lived and worked across cities, brands, pre-opening, conversions and renovations, I have only grown in awe of the housekeepers and what they do; omnipresent, ever-accommodating and always ready to help. Unlike other specialists, housekeepers manifest themselves in more ways than one.
For a guest, a brand represents an experience which draws upon unique memories. A housekeeper is closest to the guest and is responsible for evoking the brand throughout a guest’s stay. One can never undermine the housekeeper’s role in the P&L and I always maintain that strongly. And no, it’s not limited to controlling the amenity, laundry or uniform costs. Its more significant in the top line…”
This was the opening note of the Chief Guest Aditya Malla, Secretary of Pune Hoteliers Association & General Manager Double Tree Hilton, Pune at the 5th Annual Convention of the i-Professional Housekeepers Association. An elated gathering of over 100 housekeeping professionals at the Lemon Tree Premier, Pune. Celebrating the completion of the fifth milestone of i-PHA, the day-long session on Housekeeping Smart, included discussions on Five ‘S’, housekeeping on the digital platform, laundry and outsourcing.
Setting the India Book of Records was an amazing feat by seven janitors who created a 51-meter Crocodile using white towels. Sonia Mital, one of the Founders of i-PHA received the medal and the citation from the adjudicator of India Book. Prominent hospitality professionals present at the convention included Dr Sudhir Andrew, Upendra Kulkarni, AHWPI, Guest of Honour Himanshu Sachdeva, GMLemon Tree Premier, Pune and others.
A graduate from the Pune University, Priya Ranade, who has over 14 years of experience in the hospitality profession, released her first book ‘Man & Machines” at the fifth anniversary celebration of i-Professional Housekeepers’ Association Meet.
What inspired you to write a book on cleaning machines?
I always wanted to do something for the next generation of housekeepers. What better way may be than to pen down all my thoughts and experience so I thought of writing a book. My mum was a major with the Indian army and she loved books, so I wanted to dedicate it to her. That’s why I thought of penning down my ideas in a format of a book.
Honestly, housekeeping is such a vast subject but there aren’t any books that specialise in the subject to be honest. We as housekeepers, have to give something back to the next generation of housekeepers and that’s why I thought we should have specialisation books. Today, my book is about machinery; I also plan to come out with books about chemicals and linen.
Do you think the books already available in the market lack such specialised information?
Yes. Today though the entry level housekeepers have a wholistic knowledge of the entire housekeeping department, they do not have in-dept knowledge, let’s say, like the use of equipment, etc. When a student comes out of college, he is not aware about what equipment are available in the market, the right choices that he needs to make. If I give an example, if he wants to pick a high pressure jet spray, he does not know what the bar pressure is or air flow rate of a vacuum machine is. Therefore, he needs to understand this and gain in-dept knowledge.
Would you say such kind of education should be imparted in institutions or institutions are not concentrating on this matter?
I agree. Housekeeping is still considered as a last option that normally colleges take up as a professional course. Students mostly select F&B and kitchen, so colleges need to provide these kinds of specialised books. It would help if other housekeepers also pen down their experiences and communicate their knowledge to up-coming housekeepers.
The topics that covered in the book
The topics are the different sectors in housekeeping. People only think of housekeeping in terms of hotels. Hence, I have covered sectors like transport sector, cruise-lines, airlines, then there are residential cleaning and commercial cleaning. I have also covered ergonomics in equipment and yes, details about both manual equipment and mechanical equipment. Additionally, about micro fibre technology, the technical aspects of the equipment etc.
How has your experience been in housekeeping?
I have always been a housekeeper; fourteen years in the housekeeping department and into facilities, equipment. Why equipment? Because we as housekeepers worship equipment. Even on Dussehra, we do a Hathyar Pujan. We cannot live without them in our day-to-day life.
Your message for the next generation of housekeepers?
The institutes today are not coming out with good quality housekeepers. When they (students) chose a subject, it is mostly accommodations management. Half of them seek front office jobs because it’s high-end and glamourous. The students choose housekeeping or whatever is left may be because they did not get through the F&B department or any other. Housekeeping is always treated as a last resort whereas I feel colleges should encourage this function much more because today there’s so very good scope for housekeepers in all sectors. One should not consider hotels as the only area where housekeepers could work. There are bigger avenues.