Top 10 Hotel Housekeeping MistakesBack to Featured Articles
-If increasing your average stays and your guest satisfaction rate are important to you, then housekeeping has to be at the top of your list as a manager or operator. Some in the hotel industry go so far as to call housekeeping the “unsung heroes”1 of guest satisfaction. The guest experience within each and every room, as far as cleanliness goes, is a critical factor in keeping guests coming back. With the top hotel complaint being a dirty hotel, it is apparent that mistakes in housekeeping keep cropping up.
All managers would like to think that their employees are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at all times. But this is rarely the case, even among the best employees. There are over 250,000 housekeepers across the country and the Housekeeping department is generally the largest in the hotel, which makes it easy prey to performance failings, falling victim to a loss of control and quality. Whether intentionally or by accident, there are some common mistakes that break down this integral service.
By recognizing common weaknesses, both managers and housekeeping supervisors can save time by doing quick spot checks in the different areas of the hotel and share reminders in staff meetings about these focus points. Presented here are ten housekeeping mistakes that can be found in many hotels just by walking the halls as a guest. How many of these “mistakes” pollute your property?
The Knock and Enter vs. The Knock and PauseHousekeeping has a schedule to keep and a goal to reach. But they must remember this is their schedule, not the guest’s. A pet peeve of Hoteliers is when cleaning staff is too quick to enter the room. According to the Hospitality School, it is important to knock and wait 10 seconds (10 Mississippi’s) for a response, then knock again announcing who you are. Open the door slightly to make sure the coast is clear. If your staff heeds this rule of thumb, they won’t find themselves, the hotel, and the surprised guest in an awkward predicament.
Cleanliness of Linens and TowelsOur beloved hotel properties are not held accountable to the same standards as healthcare facilities; however, through the CDC (Center for Disease Control) there are clear recommendations when dealing with bedding. For example, the need for water temperatures to exceed 70 degrees Celsius, the use of chlorine bleach, required high heat drying and or pressing, and the need to monitor cleaning agent residues. This detail aside, no one wants to come into their hotel room to discover stained linens or towels. Overlooking the obvious, the guest will have a strong perception to the rest of the establishment’s standards toward cleanliness that cannot be easily swayed.
Security of Personal EffectsIt is no secret that there is a certain level of fear that exists when leaving your items in a hotel room. Precautions should always be taken with valuables such as using the in-room safe. Nothing undermines guest trust more with an establishment than missing items. Peace of mind should be a given. Hotels need to create and circulate strict rules that guard against employees stealing from guests. For guest property found after checkout, a defined procedure of how to track lost items puts both guests and staff more at ease. Hotels can deter theft by making it clear they’ll fire and press charges if a housekeeper is found at fault for stealing from guests.
Housekeeping Ignoring the “Do Not Disturb” Sign2This item is a bit touchier than the #1 Mistake on our list. A guest taking the time to put out a “Do Not Disturb” sign is directly requesting privacy. Housekeeping staff usually work in shifts. They really only have a limited window of time to clean their full room quota. It is a regular occurrence for guests to leave the room, forgetting to remove the sign from the door. If it is past a certain time of the day, it is acceptable for housekeepers to knock and identify themselves as they enter the room to see if it is indeed still occupied.
In a situation where the room must be flipped and the guest has missed their check out time, housekeeping, with management approval, may discretely enter a room to not only check to see if the guest has left but possibly remind them of the hotel’s check out time policy.
Re-stocking of Room Toiletries and TowelsMost housekeepers are required to restock rooms with fresh soaps, linens and towels on a daily basis. Discontent can arise for guests if housekeepers cannot keep up with room demands or they forget to stock rooms with certain items.
Loss or Mismanagement of ControlsWhen housekeeping enters a room they are renowned for adjusting controls for their own enjoyment. Changing the room temperature, turning the radio to their favorite station, and turning every light on. Not only do these items need to be readjusted to hotel standards upon their departure, they also should be checked upon departure from each room; particularly, that the alarm clock is not set to any ungodly hour, shooting the guest out of their sleep with blasting tunes.
Non-Existent Quality ChecksThin towels, holey sheets, cracked windows, broken radio speakers, missing remotes, et cetera, all change the guest experience. The hotel is at the mercy of housekeeping staff regularly checking and reporting any damages or quality issues. Poor quality on a few items actually spreads to a sense of poor quality of the overall brand.
Unresponsive to Further RequestsToday, housekeeping is expected to do and does much more than just clean rooms. They are called upon to support guest needs in a variety of other ways. If they do not act like a gracious host or in-house concierge by immediately and effectively fulfilling requests, it reflects poorly on the whole property. Going above and beyond with exceptional customer service in general will strengthen a guest’s affinity for the brand.
Appearance Can Go a Long WayHow your staff presents itself speaks volumes about the standards you set. If their hygiene, uniform, trolley and demeanor are in poor condition, how can your guests expect their rooms to be any different? Do a pre-shift huddle to inspect what you expect. Write down not only dress code, but even more detailed expectations and refer to them readily as well as post them in a common area for housekeeping staff to view. Using visuals is the most powerful tool to communicate your message clearly.
Make Sure You Put Quality Standards Into a ProcedureThis item is paramount. With this in place you can lessen the probability of all the above mistakes manifesting themselves in your property. Putting quality standards into a procedure ensures everyone knows what is required when cleaning guestrooms. Within this outline it is appropriate to explain the differences between cleaning an occupied dirty room versus a vacant dirty room. This will ensure that when it comes to flipping the room, there is not a lot of additional cleaning to do. Creating a checklist not only helps improve the quality in which your rooms are cleaned and turned over, but also will help your staff improve its efficiency.
Hopefully bringing these unmistakable blunders to the forefront of your housekeeping team will alleviate unneeded stress as well as elevate guest satisfaction, average stays, and return visits.
Other Ways We Can Help Housekeeping by Actively Showing We Care:By Company—Remember that there are other staggering issues around housekeeping that need to be kept in check for the benefit of staff and guests alike. Of primary concern is the costly issue of job injury rates for housekeeping staff. By putting in a room quota system alongside a cut-and-dry daily procedural checklist, on-the-job injuries can be decreased significantly. Additionally, this career path tends to be one of high turnover. Churn and train can tax your resources as well as directly lower guest satisfaction levels, while a seasoned housekeeping staff can keep your property running at optimal speed and quality levels.
By Guest—Appreciation by the guest is…always appreciated. Survey data shows that only 30% of U.S. hotel guests leave tips3for hotel housekeepers, according to Michael Lynn, a professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Depending on the level of extra service and hotel level, tipping practices for housekeeping staff generally range from $1-$5 per night. It is best to do your tipping daily, since you might have different people cleaning your room. To make sure your tip ends up in the right hands, put the money in a sealed envelope, clearly marked for your gracious housekeeping staff.
1 Work of Hotel Housekeeping Keeps Guests Coming Back, by Lofton, Lynn Mississippi Business Journal, The / Feb 07, 2005
2 Five Common Hotel Complaints from the Hotel’s Point of View, By Jonathan Meier
3 Hotel Housekeeping: Do You Tip? June 24, 2011, By Marnie Hunter, CNN