If you asked a guest what their favourite part of a stay with you was, it’s unlikely that they’ll respond with comments on dust-free surfaces, white linen and spotless floors. These are facets that often go unnoticed by guests during their stays, taken for granted as the norm. But that doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, with Direct365 noting that 80% of Britons would leave a hotel if their room wasn’t clean enough, it’s clear as freshly polished crystalware that, while a spotless room won’t necessarily garner comments, an unkempt, untidy or unclean room is damaging to a property’s reputation.
It can be difficult to keep every available room perfectly spotless, and not every property has the time or resources to implement a 99-point cleaning process, but these three key areas can help you to maintain a sparkling reputation that complement those sparkling surfaces.
1. Room design
If you’re starting from scratch or preparing for a total rehaul, Hotel News Now point out that taking the cleaning process into account when considering how your rooms will be designed or laid out can not only save your housekeeping staff time, but can increase your REVPAR and your turnover.
“They’re willing to pay more but also the guest satisfaction among the guests who’ve stayed in our WoodSpring Suites rooms have been higher than our comparable Value Place rooms that don’t have those design elements.” — Mike Varner
Consider, for instance, your flooring. There’s nothing like kicking off your shoes and letting your feet sink into a soft carpet, but when it comes to cleaning them, it can often be time-consuming and costly, particularly when the cleaning is thorough and includes shampooing, airing and drying, during which the room needs to stay empty and therefore revenue-less. Then there’s the fact that, since most properties don’t go through the efforts of shampooing carpets after each guest’s stay, even if you do make the effort and your carpets are pristine, the efforts will go unrecognised by guests who assume that there’s inherently something slightly unhygienic about carpets. Perhaps it would be better to look at an alternative that is quicker and easier to manage, like WoodSpring Suites and Peachtree Hotel Group decided to. While they both went the luxury vinyl tile route, options range from tiles, to laminate, to recycled materials.
But it’s not just the flooring that should be considered. Even when you’re already taking every effort to meticulously clean every surface, making conscious decisions about furniture, fabrics and fitments can result in your rooms looking fresher and cleaner. White linen, for example, can give guests an impression of cleanliness more than the most beautiful and perfectly laundered patterned bedspread ever could. And while your guests may not leave online reviews applauding how perfectly white and clean their linen was, Mike Varner of WoodSpring Suites knows that these small changes have resulted in higher levels of guest satisfaction.
“They’re willing to pay more but also the guest satisfaction among the guests who’ve stayed in our WoodSpring Suites rooms have been higher than our comparable Value Place rooms that don’t have those design elements,” he said.
So next time you’re designing or renovating your rooms, consider these design elements that can help with your housekeeping:
- There are alternatives to carpets that will be quicker and cheaper to clean, and will leave guests with the sense that your room is more cleanly.
- Furniture that is easy to move will result in a more thorough cleaning. Removable headboards, for example, will make it easier for housekeeping to dust them properly, and investing in lightweight furniture will make it easy to clean behind and under beds and couches.
- White linen is considered to be cleaner than even the freshest laundered coloured or patterned alternatives.
- Look for simple and sleek bathroom fittings that won’t get as stained or rusted, making them easier to clean and giving guests a sense of cleanliness.
- Use as little grout as you can, since even when cleaned regularly, it is easily stained.
2. Consistent attention to detail
While design can help you get the larger elements of your hotel rooms spot on when accommodating for cleanliness, the devil is always in the details.
“Guests expect hotel rooms to be clean, but they look for clues that it’s not clean.” — Michael Varner
It’s not enough for a room to look spick and span from a distance – your guests will be getting up close and personal with their accommodation. As Michael points out: “Guests expect hotel rooms to be clean, but they look for clues that it’s not clean.”
It’s not enough for linen to look perfect, but feel uncomfortable. It’s not enough to have inviting armchairs that are too heavy to move, and so have dust forming at their feet. It’s not enough for a bathroom to be beautifully tiled, but with grouting that is filthy; or to have a beautiful, porcelain bathtub, only for the drain to be rusted or filled with hair. It’s not enough to invest in top-of-the-range air conditioners or ventilation systems and then leave the filters uncleaned for months or years at a time.
Design will only take you so far, but having a clear procedure for housekeeping will help to attend to the details, and ensure that everything is perfect. And while some properties, like Michael’s WoodSpring Suites, have a 99-point list that their housekeeping team have to adhere to, you can start with the basics. Some starting points could include:
- Making a checklist — create a detailed list of what should be completed in each room, like the one provided by the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association.
- Measuring turnaround time — find out how long it takes on average for a room to be cleaned from top to bottom so that you don’t overburden your staff who may then feel the need to cut corners.
- Carrying out room inspections — it is imperative that the general manager or head of housekeeping does regular spot-checks to ensure that rooms meet the standard of cleanliness required and that no serious issues has been overlooked, like bed bugs or mould.
- Allowing for extra time — you never know when disaster will strike, or when a guest will refuse to vacate until their eyebrows are perfectly even.
- Speaking to staff — your housekeeping team will know better than anyone else what kind of problems arise during their cleaning, and what they need in order to be more efficient and detail-oriented.
- Providing the right tools — By having the industrial washing machines and the correct cleaning supplies, you will not only make life easier for your housekeeping team, but you will also have a better end result.
- Asking your guests — By keeping an eye on feedback, and asking your guests about their stays, you’ll be able to pinpoint where details are being missed, and where improvements can be made.
3. Staff motivation
Housekeeping is not a glamorous job. Staying motivated when faced with a position where you are required to clean up day-in and day-out can be demotivating to say the least, but keeping staff morale high can often involve the simplest changes to the way that you operate.
- Ask your housekeeping staff for their opinions. From room design, to cleaning procedures, to job satisfaction, by asking your team for their opinions, you immediately show that their voices matter, and you could even discover how to improve turnaround time.
- Show your staff the difference they’ve made to your guests. It can be easy, particularly when doing what feels like a menial task, to feel as though what you do makes no difference over all. By showing your staff the feedback that you receive from guests, and recognising those responsible for it, daily tasks will feel less like a meaningless grind, and more like a small contribution towards a larger goal.
- Provide staff with the tools they need. Housekeeping is not the place to cut corners – a vacuum that cleans couches, carpets and curtains efficiently may be more expensive than the starter model, but your rooms will be turned around much faster and to a higher standard.
Housekeeping may often be taken for granted by your guests, but that doesn’t mean that it should be a thankless task. As a foundational aspect of managing any property, from a budget backpackers in Budapest, to The Ritz in Paris, housekeeping should not be undervalued, underestimated or underappreciated. After all, it could be the difference between a guest booking with you, or your cleanlier competitor.