Housekeeping has always operated in the shadows. Their work is often thankless, turning a messy room back to perfection like the previous night never happened. As an industry, the guest is at the heart of everything we do and having housekeeping and operations behind the scenes has helped to create a positive and seamless guest experience.
This all changed in the pandemic, with housekeeping and operations becoming front of mind and top priority for hoteliers and guests alike. We have a lot to thank our operational teams for from the past two years and as we start on our recovery journey, we need to be thinking about how we can transform this integral part of the business.
I’ve been working in hospitality for over 24 years, and I’ve seen first-hand how hotels have struggled to manually manage their hotel operations, using pen and paper and clipboards to track teams and turn rooms. These traditional management methods have been holding back hotels from innovating and improving their team efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness. Inefficient operations have led to poor guest experiences and employee burnout as teams lack the tools they need to do their job effectively. It’s time to give hotel operations the attention it deserves and requires.
Pulling back the curtain on hotel operations
I have always worked on the operational side of hotels, as it is the core of any good hotel and where the action happens! Rather than seeing hotel operations as an afterthought, it is the top of my priority list. However, my role at Staycity is relatively unique and new to the industry. As Head of Hotel Operational Effectiveness, my job is to look beyond efficiency and explore how we can make our teams more effective. The introduction of this role is a testament to Staycity’s desire for innovation. We are looking to the future and tackling long-standing structural issues in hospitality and bringing hotel operations to the forefront.
I am focused on modernizing hospitality through discovering innovative technological solutions. For me, I knew this started with key areas like our housekeeping and day-to-day operational services and is what led us to adopt a hotel operations management solution last year and invest in our hotel operations.
Achieving operational effectiveness
The impact of introducing technology to support our daily operations has been more than I expected. We estimate that we’ve been able to cut the gap between cleans by one minute. Although this may not seem like much, it’s hugely significant because a minute equals about 25p. If we multiply that against our number of departures and over multiple properties, then it’s clear we’re making serious savings.
Housekeeping is our biggest labor cost. That’s why cost-saving through time is critical and was an unexpected benefit we found with hotel operations technology. We did not want to reduce the physical cleaning time because we’re proud of our housekeepers' work and that’s been reflected in our reviews. Instead, we wanted to make our housekeepers’ lives easier while increasing effectiveness. So a real result was being able to reduce the time spent between each room clean.
I prioritize effectiveness over efficiency. Introducing the housekeeping management software has had indirect effects across the team. As a result of improved and automated route mapping, guests are able to access their rooms on average an hour and forty minutes faster than before we implemented this software. Not only is this appreciated by guests but also it provides a logistical benefit, as we’re not having to store luggage in small spaces and use vital resources that should be spent on the front desk, moving luggage around.
Data gives hoteliers 20/20 visibility
In my experience, one thing has become abundantly clear - without data, hoteliers are driving in the dark. Data means visibility, understanding, and information. If you can’t see your business from a bird's eye view then you're limiting your ability to make informed decisions. Before we speed up or slow down we need direction, which data provides.
Data helps us to manage our resources more efficiently and navigate occupancy volatility. We are working to combine forecasting with the data our hotel management software collects on our daily operations and teams to understand how many people will be needed on what days. We can forecast departures, and how long each room will take to clean so we can budget and onboard accordingly, making the most of everyone’s time.
In terms of labor shortages, the hotel management software has enabled us to incentivize staff much more effectively than we’ve been able to previously. Now we can link positive reviews to the cleaner who tended to the room. Targetted feedback allows managers to congratulate housekeepers and provide a more comprehensive incentive system. We want to empower the team by showing them that they are an integral part of making a great guest stay which will hopefully combat the churn. The entire team has been very receptive to the adoption of technology, so much so that there would be a mutiny if we were to take it away.
Looking to the future
The last few years have shown you can never predict what’s coming around the corner, which can be quite a daunting experience. However, I am certain technology will continue to play an important role in hospitality and I'm eager to explore new ways to improve our industry.