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Housekeeping in the hotel industry: Trends & opportunities

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The hospitality industry is a service-oriented industry where guest experience and satisfaction are uncompromisable. Therefore, it is quite important that high standards are maintained in terms of safety, security, cleanliness & hygiene to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction. And, this puts a great amount of responsibility on the shoulders of housekeepers in the hotel industry
By Reetha Thomas

The housekeeping department is vital for the overall success of a hotel as it not only enhances each and every element of the hotels ‘face’ but is also the highest revenue generator. With advancements in technology and modernisation, the face of housekeeping has changed and is no more considered to be a back-of-the-house department of the hotel. Housekeeping department ensures the cleanliness, safeguarding and aesthetic entreat of the hotel. However, with the passing time, housekeeping services are increasingly becoming scientific and mechanised and technology has brought a substantial change in efficiency and product quality in the housekeeping department as it leads to a reduction of manpower and time. Earlier, the housekeeping department was considered responsible only for maintaining basic cleanliness and maintenance of the property and very less emphasis was laid on analysis-reports, software, training of staff related to the latest happening in the field of housekeeping. However, in the last few years, a lot of focus is being laid on creativity, innovation, training, use of the latest equipment and technologies and software in the housekeeping sector. Some of the latest trends pertaining to housekeeping department are as follows:

Go Green
Going green is the latest trend and housekeepers are using eco-friendly amenities, commodities to conserve water and energy. With the focus progressively on responsible tourism and green practices, there is much more to being ecologically friendly than reusing sheets and towels. For example, the energy management system in the hotel helps to analyse data from major energy-consuming appliances like compact fluorescent lamps and ceiling motion sensors are used in meeting rooms, conference rooms, and public areas to reduce energy waste.

Technology savvy housekeeping
Most of the hotels are investing heavily in information technology (IT) infrastructure and networking that deploys the latest technical advances in their operations. New technologies like Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), radio frequency identification, GPS (global positioning system), VOIP (voice over internet protocol), handheld communication devices and WLAN (Wireless local area networks) are developing rapidly. Also, the adoption of products like air purifiers, remote curtains, 8-10 inch mattresses for ultimate sleep experience, high thread count linen, plush pillows, shower cubicle, and bathtub combinations, branded amenities, bath salts, aromatherapy products & aromatiser has accelerated. Many types of software having comprehensive housekeeping applications are being used today in the hotels. With the help of technology, the customer’s involvement in service delivery has been increased.

Outsourcing of services
Housekeeping is a labour-intensive department and most of the hotel chains perceive outsourcing as an effective business strategy. Outsourcing proves to be the best solution for many specialised tasks as it is highly cost-effective and is a good business strategy to meet the demands of hotel standards. It also helps in reducing manpower-related issues like filling the gap due to attrition of manpower, unavailability of suitable personnel & trained manpower. However, retaining employees in the hotel industry is a major challenge due to long work schedule, less compensation, physically demanding tasks, high-pressure environment, and uncomfortable work culture. Generally, people say housekeeping job is a thankless job which results in low morale of the employees. Therefore, housekeeping sector needs to focus on formulation and implementation of dynamic retention strategies to reduce the employee turnover. In this scenario, training and motivating employees is a fundamental tool to stabilise new staff.

Conclusion
Housekeeping is not only about ensuring cleanliness but also consistently maintaining the upkeep of the hotel by adopting innovative trends and practices in housekeeping. Therefore, to stay ahead of the curve, unique and advanced technologies must be implemented and incorporated in hotel housekeeping.

(The author is executive housekeeper at Radisson
Blu MBD Noida hotel)

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