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International Housekeepers Summit 2017 Creating a New Roadmap of Growth & Success

Asia’s largest gathering of hospitality housekeeping professionals witnessed record number of housekeepers from across 11 countries come together at Sahara Star Mumbai on September 8 and 9. In all there were 320 delegates from India, Maldives, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. This is the first time-ever, hospitality students, teachers, General Managers, Chefs, Purchase Heads and Engineers joined Housekeepers to “Energize the Synergies”, the theme of the International Housekeepers’ Summit 2017.

• Seven thought-provoking sessions
• Asian Housekeeping Awards
• Official launch of Asian Housekeepers’ Association
• Live Demo of Cleaning and Laundry Technology
• 2nd edition of Uniforms a Corporate Fashion Statement
• IPHA Awards
• Felicitation
• B2B Meeting
• Motivational Talks
• Cocktail Dinner & Networking

The Summit began on a positive note with the most encouraging speech from Chief Guest Kuldeep Bhartee, Area General Manager for ITC hotels. “We are here to celebrate one of the most exceptional departments in the hospitality industry that has mastered the art of value proposition and I call it the backbone of the industry.” Speaking to Clean India Journal, following the inauguration he said that IHS2017 is very important platform for the housekeepers around the world to patriciate and gather knowledge from different countries. “Housekeeping today is no more a backend job. The housekeeper now controls 60 to 70% of the revenue of the hotels. We can talk about the room revenue being directly related to housekeeping, as great housekeeping makes the guest come back again. Housekeeping is very important aspect of hospitality, a major department and the backbone to the hotel industry. People should change their view about housekeeping.

“Eight out of the 10 people look at the internet to check the review before choosing the hotel they want to check-in. Most of the time, they check the cleanliness levels and then decide the hotel,” he added.

Chief Guest Kuldeep Bhartee, Area General Manager, ITC Hotels.

“It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to be standing here as the guest of honor in the presence of national and international dignitaries from the hospitality sector. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mohana, Editor, Clean India Journal for organizing such a wonderful event year after year.

We are here to celebrate one of the most exceptional departments in the hospitality industry which has mastered the value proportion over the years and I call it the backbone of the hotel industry. Without a strong support, passion and commitment of our team of housekeepers our hotels could not have scripted a success story.

Today, this department is in the forefront to enable our hotel to occupy rooms, make raving fans out of our guests assuring repeat business from them, protect our hotel assets and up the profit margins.

A career as a housekeeper is challenging, as it requires great deal of organizing skills, ability to communicate well with the guest and equally with the staff and a discipline of upholding service excellence at the units. No level of service or friendliness or glamour can equal the sensation a guest has while entering a spotless, tidy, conveniently arranged room.

I am very happy to see the presence of some of my esteemed colleagues here who are currently general managers of reputed properties and have risen to the position from the housekeeping background.

Finally, I would like to conclude my speech with a quote Shep Hyken, says, “Remember, no matter how good your feedback is; you always start over with the next customer”. That means you are as good as yesterday, today is a new day.”

Summit Sessions

General Managers Session

Beginning with an inspirational sharing from General Managers who started their journey with Housekeeping to a discussion from multiple points of view to achieve housekeeping excellence through education, training and technology, there were about seven session spread across two days. Sessions also included viewing models and new innovations to be adopted by housekeeping to maintain the ecological balance besides strengthening inter departmental relations with procurement and laundry. There was something to be learnt from every session.. Focussing on the theme of the summit on ‘Energizing the Synergies’ there were also discussions on improving co-ordination with procurement and laundry.

The summit commenced with the dynamic and inspirational session on ‘Scaling Heights’ – a revelation of what it takes to make the journey from a Housekeeper to a General Manager. Chaired by Anmol Ahluwalia, GM –Taj Wellington Mews, Mumbai, who himself started his hospitality career in Housekeeping, the General Managers on the panel compared, contrasted and discussed the ‘road less taken’ — a story of breaking pathways and belief in oneself. The panel members were Abraham Zacharia-General Manager, Marriott International, Surat, Manoj Sawant-General Manager, The Fern, Goregaon, Mumbai and Lakshmanan Ramanathan-General Manager, The Westin Chennai Velachery, Chennai.

Speaking on creating talents, Lakshmanan said, “Somebody got a risk on you. And that somebody that is taking risk of moving you say from the executive role to front office manager or a general manager role or an executive housekeeper or rooms divisional manager role, part of the ownership need should be on us. If I want to be a general manager I got to give the confidence to my general manager, I have to say this is where I want to go and have a conversation. I sit down have career conversation and say where you want to go from today, what support you want and what you need to do. It is a partnership, it cannot be one way. Someone took a risk on me and I am here.”
The session that followed was an ambitious one. With the largest number of panel members with diverse viewpoints, it required skilful time-efficient co-ordination by chairperson Sareena Kochar, Vice-President Housekeeping Lemon Tree and Red Fox Hotels. Titled ‘Timeless Teaching, Timely Training’, the session had three distinct parts which were interwoven. At the outset, dedicated hospitality educators sought to enhance the housekeeping course content and augment its importance in the curriculum. The panel members for the session were Annabelle Rodrigues, Principal of Don Bosco College of Hospitality Studies, Laxmi Todiwan – Professor and HOD, Apeejay Institute and Anuradha Khot – Hospitality Trainer and Consultant.

From a student’s point of view, Nousheen Rajqotwala, a recently graduated hospitality management student, expressed why she chose to specialise in Housekeeping and why other students were deterred from choosing Housekeeping as a career.

The session was intended to bridge the gap between education and training and encourage hospitality students to pursue a career in housekeeping.

Trainers in the hotel need to make a sincere effort to increase interest in housekeeping as a career. Pamini Hemaprabha – Regional Rooms Specialist, Master Trainer, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi-UAE and Akshi Singh – Cluster Director of Housekeeping, IHG Hotels, Kuwait re-iterated the need for training for a smooth transition into becoming an efficient and effective employee. Tharaka Appuhamy – Corporate L & D Manager, Adaraan Resorts, Maldives took the discussion to another level with the belief that learning is lifelong.

Emphasising on the need for both education and training, Tharaka said “We cannot have highly skilled and poorly educated or highly educated and poorly skilled employee. Human resources is a cost incurring area in our operations and it is all the more important when it comes to training. In 20 minutes of training, the employee should address what we are doing, how we are doing and why we are doing it. Here is where the education comes in. There is a nice saying: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. I would like to add little salt and pepper, ‘teach them the art and science of fishing so that in any kind of situation, they will be able to take their decision’.”

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