Let’s face it, unblocking sinks or emptying trash baskets aren’t the most glamorous hotel jobs, but the work of maintenance and housekeeping is essential. Without it, everything else would be pretty pointless, however great the location, restaurant fare, or friendliness of reception staff. In many ways the work of cleaners and maintenance people has barely changed in decades in the hospitality industry. OK, there might be better tools, or more efficient mops, but essentially how staff work now is almost identical to how previous generations did such tasks. In recent times we have seen massive changes in how automation has impacted the way guests engage with hotels, from searching, through booking and payment, and the general movement towards contactless solutions which creates unique new opportunities for dialogue. All good, but can the same technology-led approaches be brought to maintenance and housekeeping for hotels? The answer is ‘Yes’, and in this article we’ll look at some tips on how to improve the housekeeping department in your hotel.
A hotel’s reputation is built on pristine rooms
Hotels live or die by their hygiene and efficiency. Rooms must be pristine on a guest’s arrival, with every facility fully functional. For example, if the aircon isn’t operational, or the bedlinen isn't fresh, then of course the room shouldn’t be made available. A hotel’s reputation is built on the reviews of guests, which are now easier than ever to post, and read online.
A bad review which comes from failures in housekeeping or maintenance can be extremely damaging, not least because most people have clear expectations about hygiene and functionality. We may not all agree on what constitutes a great view, or a perfect meal, but a shower which runs cold or towels that aren’t fluffy will always draw adverse comments. The staff who look after the cleanliness and smooth running of hotels are the most ‘invisible’ employees, and yet these often under-appreciated people can become much more effective in their work. Good housekeeping and maintenance should be recognised as crucial elements in the success of a hotel, and that means giving staff some smart support.
Just as digital technology has streamlined many front desk and back office functions to increase efficiency and profitability, hoteliers can achieve similar step changes in how maintenance and housekeeping do their work.
Property Management Systems are at the heart of smooth operations
Most of the hotels now operate with some form of automation, usually through a Property Management System. Originally PMS softwares consisted of dedicated hardware (often eating up space in the back office) which did a few simple jobs a little bit faster and more efficiently than front desk staff. Nowadays a modern PMS will be located ‘in the cloud’, so there’s no need for space-cluttering hardware, and the system can be remotely updated by the supplier. What’s more, the functions offered are hugely expanded, lightning fast, and of course ‘joined up’. For example, a guest who makes an inquiry to the hotel’s website (or online travel agent) has their details recorded, which can then be used for booking, check in and billing - to be all part of a seamless guest journey. A smoothly functioning PMS will also enable messaging to guests - from booking, through in-stay and beyond - so that a real dialogue is established.
And what has this got to do with maintenance and housekeeping? Well, if your hotel already has a modern PMS - or if you are considering acquiring one - then the tools for managing these vital areas can be ‘bundled’ into the package. The system that makes each part of the guest journey well-managed and seamless can be applied to every aspect of how you run your hotel.
So here are some tips on how to improve the Housekeeping department:
1. Use Flexible and responsive cleaning rotas through the PMS
The days of rigid check in and check out times are ending as guests specify when it suits them to arrive and depart a hotel. They expect to then go to their room as soon as they arrive (quite possibly having done self check in, and received a keyless-entry code), and definitely do not want to be kept waiting because of an inflexible cleaning rota. A modern PMS coupled with a Housekeeping app promotes great communication between front desk and housekeeping staff. This allows the housekeeping supervisor to monitor progress and alert reception as soon as rooms are ready, enabling much smoother operations, and more satisfied guests. This ability to be in constant communication with staff through an app on their own mobile device enhances housekeeping effectiveness, and promotes good information-flow between maintenance, housekeeping, reception, and management.
2. Use Checklists to ensure there are no loose ends
The technology can also be used to keep maintenance and cleaning staff alert to their duties through checklists sent to their mobile device. That way they can be reminded of everything they need to do to fulfil their role. It’s a two-way street in that they can report back to the system that they have completed their tasks. What’s more, this dialogue can be interdepartmental, so if a cleaner notices that - say - the TV isn’t working in a room, they can immediately register this in the system. The result should be no loose ends so that guests receive a 100% favourable impression on entering their room. Of course the same applies to all public areas too.
3. Encourage guests to provide feedback during their stay
With ‘Virtual Concierge’ features and offerings such as SabeeApp’s Guest Advisor tool, guests can - and do - have in-stay dialogue with the hotel. From the hotel’s point of view this is a valuable opportunity to upsell services, and let guests know of special offers or events. From the guest’s perspective, it’s a way of giving instant feedback about their experience upon arrival. If there’s anything wrong, then GuestAdvisor can be used to report it, 24/7. Not all guests want to confront reception staff in the middle of the night about an annoying dripping tap, but are more comfortable about the instant feedback available through apps so hotel staff / management can correct any mistakes if needed.
4. Schedule housekeeping and maintenance based on real data
The rich data available to hoteliers about when guests check in and out, and what their needs or even complaints are, means that it is possible to mine this information to better plan housekeeping activity. If the data indicates that there is a ‘window’ for cleaners to operate at a particular time, then leverage that, rather than insisting that staff work to set ‘traditional’ times. Maintenance can be scheduled around the best availability of rooms and common areas for maximum guest comfort, and to enable staff to operate at their greatest efficiency. Who wants a housekeeper hanging around for ten minutes as they wait for a guest to leave their room, just because they always go to that room next on their schedule? Mining the data results in more flexible and effective rotas.
5. Get Automatic alerts to maintenance issues
Hotels are getting smarter, as more and more processes are digitised. This includes the ability of guests to control in-room functions through an app on their own mobile device. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning, along with lighting control can now be at the choice of the guest, rather than from a central (and energy wasting) system. The added advantage of smart systems for hotels is that even if guests or housekeeping staff don’t notice an in-room problem, the technology itself can. Predictive Maintenance using sensors and data analytics is revolutionising how maintenance departments operate by automatically pinpointing issues before they become problems.
The SabeeApp Housekeeping app
We’ve mentioned just some of the headline benefits that can be applied to improve housekeeping and maintenance departments in hotels, using digital technology. We know all about this because we are SabeeApp, and have over ten years of specialised experience in the hospitality sector with our Property Management System. As a part of our Smart Solutions module, the SabeeApp Housekeeping app is connected to the PMS which provides strong support to housekeeping staff in completing their tasks successfully and more efficiently. It provides smoother communication, training for new employees, preparing of reports, complying with cleanliness standards, and supports the work of maintenance staff.
Among its many benefits, the SabeeApp Housekeeping app:
- Communicates transparently and effectively with team members
- Enables easier newcomer training and factors-in a checklist
- Creates daily room reports and updates automatically
- Seamlessly assigns rooms to housekeeping
- Sends notifications to cleaners’ smartphones with requests or problems
- Updates room status in realtime
- Measures the work of housekeeping staff and messages their supervisor
- Reports and assigns maintenance issues
In short, the Housekeeping app saves significant time for maintenance and housekeeping staff, while enhancing communication, increasing efficiency, and ultimately helping boost guest satisfaction.
The dynamic approach to hotel housekeeping
Maintenance and Housekeeping is no longer ‘just’ about replacing a lightbulb or vacuuming a carpet - it’s part of an increasingly dynamic offering from hotels that leverages the power of modern Property Management Systems to provide greater efficiency for the hotel, and an enhanced guest experience. We’d like to give you a free, no obligation demo of our complete offering, and also suggest a visit to our housekeeping app page. We can show you how to dramatically improve the performance of your hotel’s housekeeping and maintenance departments, and provide pristine rooms to guests.