Nothing sends a stronger message than cleanliness in the hospitality industry. No level of service, friendliness or glamour can equal the ‘feel good’ experience a guest gets upon entering a spotless, tidy and conveniently arranged room. With 27 years of experience in housekeeping operations in hospitality, healthcare, and facility management sectors, Vaneeta Arora, Director Housekeeping-The Park, New Delhi speaks to Clean India Journal about the ever changing image of housekeeping.
At The Park, we believe in environmentally sustainable housekeeping and providing clean, pleasant and hygienic experiences to our guests by adapting and acquiring the changing trends in the hospitality industry and providing defect-free services and products. Turning moments into memories and the hotel into a destination, our approach to service is heartfelt, not scripted.
Also our continuous efforts in keeping the department’s operational expenses minimum while paying attention to detail and guests requirements is our strength.
Several factors influence customer satisfaction. Timely delivery of requests plays a vital role in making the first impression of guests a lasting one.
Housekeeping is becoming more and more tech-savvy with software for planned preventive maintenance, guest requests and inventory management. Technology is extremely helpful in our day-to-day job, enabling us to work efficiently. Time is very precious in housekeeping and we need to be able to work fast in order to provide our guests with exceptional service.
Software, provided by Triton, reduces paper consumption and virtually eliminates innumerable phone calls between the housekeeping desk, floor staff and front office. Each team member has a cell phone on which the alerts from the software are received. Each guest call has to be closed within a given time frame; in case it is not, it gets cascaded to the next level in the hierarchy. This minimizes guest complaints and ensures delivering and meeting of guest requests promptly.
For enhanced productivity, we are using the OPERA scheduling feature, which generates sections every day before the start of the shift. These features greatly assist us in getting the work done in the quickest time along with accurate allocation and effective supervision. Automated scheduling also helps us plan better in scheduling deep cleaning and preventive maintenance programme.
New cleaning technologies and environmental concerns have taken cleaning and maintenance services to a new level.
As The Park is ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, eco-friendly practices are definitely something that we focus on and a few initiatives include use of eco-friendly chemicals, recycling of old linens as aprons, dusters or wiping towels, donating old linen, uniforms, furniture and equipment to institutions or charities, garbage segregation and the use of technology to eliminate usage of paper. ‘Going green’ is the emerging trend. It encompasses a whole range of reducing wastage of water and electricity. In our hotel, we place an ‘eco tent card’ in the guestrooms for both bed linen and bath linen, informing our guests about making preference on change of linen on daily basis or not, as their contribution towards conserving the natural vital resources. This helps us in making our guests aware of our green initiatives and we encourage them to be part of it.
Housekeeping team is very passionate about the environment and gets regular training on recycling. We hold training sessions to teach our own team about the best practices in saving water and energy. These practices are being implemented not only inside the hotel, but also outside in our personal lives. A few of these initiatives include planting trees at the old age homes of NDMC and organizing hand hygiene day for small children of NDMC Hanuman Lane School.
Housekeeping is definitely becoming more innovative every year. There is a huge potential to make our routines creative and different, which will also boost employee motivation. In addition, a lot of innovation could still be done with the way we clean the rooms, for example, with bed making, towel folding and other ways for us to impress and ‘wow’ our guests. I can say that the future looks propitious.
Emphasis on training
We strongly believe in developing associates internally. Providing a good working environment is essential in order to hold on to the best people. A positive work environment make employees feel good about coming to work, and this provides the motivation to sustain them.
The key focus in housekeeping is on talent management, which includes building the quality and depth of talent, including a focus on succession and leadership/employee development. We ensure that we retain high performing talent through proper training, development opportunities, mentoring, coaching and rewards.
Specific housekeeping skills
The specific attributes that we look for include positive attitude and passion coupled with high energy levels. Different skill sets are required for different areas of housekeeping but in general, we look for communication skills, job knowledge and willingness towards training and development.’