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Redefining Housekeeping

There is a stark increase in the number of hotel properties coming up across the world, especially in India and rest of Asia. In the wake of the increased occupancy, the revenue models of hotels are fast tilting towards rooms, surpassing other departments. Housekeeping contributes in a big way to room revenue through maintenance and heightened guest experience. In this changing scenario, Clean India Journal, following the International Housekeepers’ Summit in 2016, set out to create a whitepaper to Redefine Housekeeping in the Corporate Strategy. Synopsis of the findings were tabled during IHS2017 in September. A Report.

Housekeeping is evolving at a rapid pace. The long-underestimated department of a hotel is now in the limelight. Housekeeping is and has always been multifaceted. It is time to take note of the all-pervasive nature of work at housekeeping, along with the impact it has on guest satisfaction and business performance.

Sustainability demands off-thegrid thinking resulting in judicious contemplation. Smart laundries, Nano technology and RFID contribute towards improved performance and assessment of environmental impact. This approach also helps to build awareness of the price of a product / service and its cost of disposal.

While technology has the potential to ease the administrative function of a housekeeper, the aim of training is to empower employees by giving them the authority and responsibility to successfully carry out tasks.

The procurement department is money handlers. The product purchased is the basis of operating cost. While the housekeeper as the end user is knowledgeable about the product specifications the procurement representative has expertise in commercials and analysis. Green products and carbon credits are reflected as benefits in the sustainability report.

In this white paper we look at:

  • Sustainability – a new way of doing things.
  • Technology – an approach to unified communication.
  • Training – to develop personal leadership.
  • Resources – where luxury is not at the cost of environment.
  • Procurement – as a major cost determinant.

1. Sustainability – a new way to doing things

Housekeeping best practices, while being considered an essential part of the operation, the challenge lies in setting up guidelines for implementation of the best practices. 78.6% of executive housekeepers have the cleaning procedures defined and documented in the housekeeping department, but 35.7% did not have the quality criteria for all the cleaning processes defined (Executive Housekeepers survey August 2017).

The housekeeping department is well versed with the 3 R’s – reduce,reuse and recycle. The cornerstones of sustainability – solid waste management, water conservation, energy conservation, employee engagement and community involvement – are a part of the housekeeping fabric. The question of innovation looms large over results achieved from these. Frugal design and conspicuous conservation of resources used, goes a long way in conservation.

Housekeeping departments are going through a change by extending the conservation ideas to the employees’ homes. Dynamic gifts offered to the employees, for example, LED bulb, solar operated lights, drip irrigation devices substituting the traditionally gifted items for personal use with short life, is the beginning change.

1.1 Sustainability incorporated in the budgeting process.

Budgeting is a prime function of an executive housekeeper. 92.9% of them surveyed are in agreement that housekeeping contributes to the profits of the hotel. The data received indicates the following as contributing initiatives undertaken towards hotel profits:

• Operational cost control measures.

o Revising room amenities on the basis of room category and guest segment.
o Supervisors responsible for distributing amenities.
o Toiletries recycling.
o Avoiding holding of dead stock by monitoring through materials team.
o Tracking consumption and avoiding pilferages of guest amenities.
o Tracking consumption of cleaning chemicals.
o Bulk import of room amenities reducing the amenities cost by 40%.
o Participating in negotiation process of finalizing contracts of product suppliers.
o Recycling flowers.

• Up-selling of laundry, min bar, spa products, premium rooms
• Increase staff productivity.
• Continuously monitoring departmental budget.
• Switching off air conditioning and lights whenever possible.
• Control on running water while room cleaning.
• Best out of waste system.
• Following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.
• Regular airing of rooms to remove foul odours
• Selling products and services to guests – flowers, guest amenities, aroma oils, babysitting.

In addition to the above, some of which are aimed at selling, while others are best practices; green cleaning, water and waste management practices and indoor air quality monitoring should be an integral part of the budgeting process. Budgeting cleaning equipment on the basis of their versatility, energy efficiency, decibels levels and higher productivity give sustainable results. Similarly, while deciding on cleaning solutions understanding the adverse effects the cleaning solution is crucial before using it on the surface.

Off-the-grid thinking to include waste, energy & water footprints in the budgeting process making it a part of the daily operations will result in judicious spending.

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