Rising Concerns & Challenges
From keeping all areas of the hotel fresh, clean and tidy to training janitors & supervisors to adopt latest technology & software, housekeeping is much more than just keeping the ‘house’ in order or keeping the guests comfortable. All these entail diverse and daunting challenges. In a Panel Discussion organised by Clean India Journal, Avril Sule, Associate Professor-Housekeeping, Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management; Shilpi Khanna, Executive Housekeeper-J.W. Marriot; Alka Sharma, Vice-President Indiabulls and Renuka Rao, Housekeeper-Sahara Star- Mumbai discussed rising housekeeping concerns & challenges. Excerpts:
HOUSEKEEPING TODAY has grown to encompass much more than just cleaning and guest services; thus, increasing the challenges faced otherwise. Everything in housekeeping begins with the working staff or housekeepers and almost all challenges are related to trained manpower in one way or the other.
Every hotel is facing manpower crisis and is struggling to keep up the retention ratio. Highlighting the present challenges, Renuka Rao said, “Housekeeping department is the backbone of a hotel and newly joined staff are not capable to provide the required results expected by the guests. Further, guests today are more demanding than they were five years back. They do not tolerate anything, be it pests or hygiene issues. Getting trained staff, retaining them and keeping them happy are the challenges which need adequate support and time. Housekeeping is a 24/7 activity.”
In this scenario of guest centric housekeeping, there is little scope for any other activity including skill development. Always at an edge over guest remarks, “online reservations” at times turns a bane for the housekeeping department. “External reservation agencies encourage guests to post online reviews to increase traffic. This, many a time, works adversely for the hotel. Housekeeping is the main target in most of these posts. This again gets carried in the social media and various online platforms available today and a small fault by the housekeeping staff gets blown out of proportion and thereby portrays a negative brand image of the hotel,” added Renuka.
– Shilpi Khanna
Quoting an extreme case of tragedy which could have been better handled with a trained housekeeping staff, Alka averred that, “One of the biggest challenges in training housekeeping staff, is in enabling them to ‘protect’ guests from possible terror attacks or other disasters. The housekeeper must make a checklist of Dos & Don’ts for a bomb blast scare.”
“Sexual harassment and ensuing repercussions are issues that housekeepers must look into and educate their staff as part of preventive measures. This is important as people coming from different places perceive things differently. Fire safety is one more very essential aspect which must be a part of regular checklist practices.
“Even housekeeping at its core is not an easy task. For e.g, while cleaning the washrooms, care should be taken not to leave behind even a single strand of hair. Once chosen the profession, you simply can’t do it forcefully. One must enjoy and have fun with the work,” added Alka.
– Avril Sule[/box]
“Getting labour and telling them it is no longer broom and brush but handling machines efficiently is, becomes another challenging task,” said Avril.