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Total Quality Management in Hospitality

The methodology of Total Quality Management is intended to assist in achieving business excellence. Hospitality management is no exception, striving to improve guest satisfaction, acquire a competitive advantage and ensure repeat patronage.

Communication, coordination and co-operation between the departments of a hotel are the three keys to TQM. The process also means aligning the goals of the organization at all levels vertically – senior management, middle management and operational levels. Sadly, while the focus is on the frontline departments, the unseen departments like Housekeeping that form the backbone of the organization seem to be given less or no importance.

TQM emanates from guest expectations. An analysis of guest feedback, complaints and requests should provide adequate guidelines for devising a methodology for TQM in Housekeeping. The cycle is ongoing, particularly because guests visiting a hotel vary widely in their expectations. Providing a clean, comfortable and safe environment for guests is primary but there is also the aspect of maintenance of the building. Hotel Housekeeping must work in close co-ordination with the Engineering department to maintain the premises and extend the lifespan of the property. Since quality is directly proportional to expenses, it is also essential to control expenses without sacrificing quality. This involves extensive research and expertise in procurement.

Monitoring every process in the Quality Chain from supplier to guest is essential and setting up a framework with detailed guidelines for this purpose acts as a roadmap to assist employees in managing quality. Studies have suggested that a TQM framework with Four Ps (Planning. People, Process and Performance) as the key factors and the Three Cs (culture, communication and commitment) to support the Four Ps will produce a desirable result.

Process mapping via flow charts is one of the common TQM tools. For example, creating a flow chart for the Laundry process not only provides a clarity in work processes but also serves as a referral for a work study analysis. On a micro level, creating standard operating procedures for every task to be performed is essential and must be followed up by diligent supervision to ensure that they are being implemented. Most departments have a standard operating manual but all too often this is a tome that stays on a shelf and is not put into practice. The traditional bedmaking with three sheets and a blanket has long since been replaced by the use of a duvet and bed runner so this switch over must be altered in the SOP. For this reason, it is necessary for SOPs to be reviewed periodically so that quality is consistent and upto- date with current innovations.

In its simplest form, TQM is providing a service quality that strikes a balance between guest expectations and their perception of the service received. Therefore, the more information the hotel can glean from the guest, the smaller the gap between the expectation and the perception of the service provided.

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Using technology warrants the need for changing an SOP — using a ride-on scrubber-drier in public areas instead of the manual bucket and mop.


A constant check for consistent TQM may be carried out by using a statistical process control with intensive documentation and periodical internal and external audit. Glitches may be analysed via work study that comprises of time and motion study and work measurement. Such investigations may highlight the need for conducting training or introducing technology. TQM experts emphasize strongly on the need to have competent staff. Since most of the tasks that are performed in the housekeeping department are mundane, it is left to the middle management to seek ways to motivate staff and create a team that is committed to the job.

The old school of thought favoured a top-down approach for deploying practices to achieve TQM. In recent times however, a bottom-up approach has proved to be more effective, as when staff at operational level are involved with ideas for how to implement the policy, it is more likely to be sustainable.

TQM was originally developed and adopted in the manufacturing environment. It has been difficult to apply the techniques and terminology to the hospitality industry due to the intangible nature of service. In the hospitality industry, TQM has been in existence for the past three decades.

The number of hospitality organizations that have adopted the TQM approach has considerably increased during the past ten years. TQM is associated with several operational advantages some of which are reflected in improved productivity, increased innovations, changes in employee behaviour and attitude and creativity among employees. Quality is considered to be a vital component of the productivity of the organization and it is evident that these two aspects of the work process are inseparable like two sides of a coin. It is expected that in the next five years, TQM concepts will change and improve radically with the primary focus being on using resources efficiently and achieving a higher cost effectiveness.

Implementation of Quality Planning, Quality Control and Quality Improvement in the organization is especially relevant in the setting of the hospitality organization. One of the potential hurdles in the introduction of these is the resistance to change among employees. Therefore, it takes a lot of time and effort to make new changes part of the corporate culture in the hotel.

Hilton Hotels holds a considerable share in the hospitality industry globally. The chain offers services that have been developed to satisfy diverse needs of different groups of customers including individuals, groups of people, as well as corporate clients. The four major groups of services offered are accommodation, serving food and beverage, leisure services and business services. In order to deliver the services that Hilton Hotels  offers to its guests, there are three major operational processes that need to be performed, managed and controlled – Front Desk Operations, Room Maintenance and Housekeeping Operations and Sales and Marketing Operations. As a managerial approach, Total Quality Management in these areas is a determining factor of the organization’s success and is reflected in the teamwork for goals unification, focussing on consumers when defining quality and using a scientific approach based on data.

This can greatly enhance the customer satisfaction. The response time for reacting to guest requests or complaints is also essential for success in today’s competitive market. In the instant world we live in, guests expect a reply as quickly as possible and a delayed response would increase the threat of losing business.

Attempts at quality assurance and control have been in existence for a long time through Six Sigma, Kaizen and the 5S methodology. These sporadic efforts have all culminated in Total Quality Management as we know it today.

Extensive studies have identified the major determining factors of the TQM implementation…

• Role of the quality department
• Top management leadership
• Role of product and service design
• Training
• Quality management of the suppliers
• Quality data and reporting process management
• Relations among employees

Hotel surveys on internet websites clearly indicate that Quality Housekeeping plays a leading role in improving hotel business providing tangible services as well as intangible services. Adopting TQM methodology in Housekeeping is certain to provide any organization the competitive edge it requires to achieve business excellence.

Avril Sule
Independent Trainer in Hospitality Sector

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