Housekeeping Department: COVID-19 crisis management framework

While often not at the forefront of hotel owners’ or asset managers’ minds, housekeeping is arguably one of the most important departments. After all, the housekeeping team takes care of the “house” that you invited your “guests” into and focuses on the main product of a hotel operation – the rooms. With COVID-19, housekeeping has become more critical than ever. Those teams put their health in danger to look after the remaining staff and guests.

Even once the worst of the virus is over, the threat is unlikely to disappear overnight. Therefore, once hotels can safely reopen, guest attitudes and your operations will likely be impacted in the long-term [1]. Even before the virus, 78% [2] of hotel guests felt cleanliness to be the most crucial factor affecting their accommodation choice. We expect this percentage to increase, as guests will expect the highest standards of sanitation to feel comfortable in your hotel. Therefore, hotels and asset managers worldwide need to work with their housekeeping teams to better prepare for these impacts after re-opening.

1. Financial and data analysis

The high costs, that are inherent to an integral department such as housekeeping, are expected to rise as additional precautions must be taken for the safety of the staff and the guests. Now is the time to look at your current housekeeping practices and, by prioritizing hotel housekeeping analytics, you can take advantage of the technologies that are becoming an important part of hospitality management. They allow you to spot opportunities to increase your bottom line by eliminating wasted resources and going beyond having rooms cleaned in record time. Online checklists, location-based room assignments, accurately predicted room cleaning times and automated reporting are examples of technologies that will prove extremely useful in your path forward. Planning for increased room cleaning times to account for additional sanitation measures will be necessary.

2. Restructuring and training

Once you’ve leveraged and analyzed your data on how to update the housekeeping processes, it is vital to tackle these newfound opportunities by beginning to restructure the department in preparation for the new normal.

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During the closure, you must ensure that the hotel is cleaned a minimum of once a week; best practices include allocating one attendant per floor to reduce cross-contamination. Furthermore, your housekeeping managers should stay in touch with room attendants and use online platforms to begin retraining. This will allow the team to get ahead of the crisis and be ready for the next step.  After re-opening, guests will have a keener eye on the work of the housekeeping team, which is why they need to be prepared.

3. Implementing your reopening plan

The final stage of implementing your new plan will take place after re-opening. Housekeeping Consultant, Sophie Huertas, recommends including a pamphlet in all rooms along with the marketing collateral from other departments (i.e., room service menus). This pamphlet should be signed from the housekeeping team and should detail the steps taken to maintain the room’s hygiene and guests’ health. It could also be beneficial to wrap more items in plastic/paper after a room’s turnover to help signal sanitation measures to wary guests. Furthermore, many standards that had to be put in place during the virus, such as installing automatic hand sanitizer dispensers in public areas, should be kept long after the passing of the crisis.

At the end of the day, the plans you create and implement should make your housekeeping team more efficient when tackling additional hygiene measures that are necessary post-COVID-19. The steps outlined in this article will help reassure your guests to stay at your property once more. We encourage you to begin reflecting on how specific departments, like housekeeping, can be improved and leveraged in time for your hotel’s re-opening.

A special thank you to Sophie Huertas, Housekeeping Consultant and Trainer.

Sources of information

This article was first published on EHL Insights.
Global Asset Solutions

Global Asset Solutions has partnered with a team of five students and one alumna from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, and Remy Rein (EHL Lecturer).

Tags: Business management, COVID-19, Housekeeping


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