Hotel housekeeping teams have faced a new environment for serving their guests throughout the pandemic. Guests expect higher standards of cleaning and sanitization. At the same time, guests and staff want to limit contact with other people to maintain social distancing.
Hotel managers are attempting to address these two needs while also struggling with a reduced labor force. Research indicates the hospitality labor shortage is likely to continue for the foreseeable future; experts are referring to 2021 as the “great resignation”. According to a survey published in October by Joblist, 58% of hospitality workers said they are planning to quit before the end of 2021.
In addition, Joblist found that 38% of former hospitality workers will not take another job in a hotel, bar, or restaurant. As a result, hotels must look for new technology and processes that enable them to meet higher standards and provide contactless service with fewer and newer staff.
More than ever, the housekeeping department is the backbone of the hotel, playing a crucial role in keeping guests satisfied and employees motivated throughout the property. As a result, hotel managers are increasingly turning to housekeeping software to manage these new challenges while balancing the constant needs of an organized and efficient housekeeping team.
Meet Guest Expectations with Contactless Communication
Guests have high expectations when staying in a hotel during a pandemic, and online reviews and booking websites only compound these expectations. In addition, because guests want to ensure that the property they select follows current CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing, they read reviews even more closely. As a result, they are more sensitive to negative reviews related to housekeeping.
All it takes is one slip-up — a stained towel in the bathroom or crumbs left under the bed — for a guest to comment publicly online. Potential guests then wonder what other corners are being cut that could impact their safety and well-being.
Guests also expect to be able to communicate their service expectations in a contactless way. Your staff and guests have increasingly used digital tools during the pandemic to accomplish personal tasks. They now expect your hotel to offer the same types of tools they use to order pizzas and get groceries delivered. When your hotel uses a platform that links guest messaging to your housekeeping tool, your guests can communicate through their mobile device with the hotel about their room status while your housekeeping teams have the most up-to-date information needed to get their job done right.
For hotels with both ALICE Guest Messaging and Housekeeping products, a guest can text the Front Desk to request cleaning while out to lunch. The Front Desk can immediately create a new task for housekeeping in ALICE, and then the housekeeping manager can use their device to assign and prioritize the task while on the go, saving time and steps. The Front Desk can see when the task is complete and relay confirmation to the guest through a variety of options - via texting, the ALICE App, or their computer desktop. This paperless solution helps guarantee guests' requests are not lost but instead communicated efficiently and without direct in-person contact.
Mobile Rooms Reorder for Housekeeping
Beyond flawless presentation, guests also expect 24-hour readiness. In today's technologically advanced world, 40% of travelers plan and book trips at the last minute, with many making reservations as little as a week beforehand. Now, many people are waiting until even closer to the travel date to make plans based on changing conditions and regulations due to the pandemic.
At the same time, other guests are canceling close to travel dates, which means a constant juggling of reservations, changing needs, and fluctuating occupancy. These new challenges mean housekeeping staff need to be even more diligent to ensure that non-reserved rooms are clean and available at a moment's notice. While these expectations may be difficult to meet with a manual system, hotel housekeeping software makes it easy to streamline processes.
Management can assign and track routine tasks — such as sweeping, changing sheets, restocking towels, and more — via mobile hotel checklists in ALICE instead of printed schedules of tasks. When communication is clear and instant, it provides employees with more time to improve the customer experience.
With the Mobile Rooms Reorder function available in ALICE Housekeeping, managers can reprioritize boards in real-time using their mobile devices while walking the floor. Because inspection checklists are now completed on a tablet or phone, managers can reassign tasks that need to be redone without walking back to the desk.
Employees are notified of new priorities or tasks that must be done or redone and receive requests in real-time on their devices, which increases the likelihood that all tasks are completed promptly, and guests' expectations are exceeded. Because the ALICE app has an award-winning user interface with icons and color-coding, employees can more easily overcome language barriers and perform their jobs consistently to the highest standards.
Improve Employee Motivation with Ease of Use & Fast Onboarding
Many of the old systems and practices found in housekeeping departments can make tasks more difficult and time-consuming than they need to be. This inefficiency creates more strain on employees and supervisors while diminishing valuable time that could be spent elsewhere. With increased turnover and new staff, this issue has become even more critical since the pandemic began.
The strain on housekeeping operations can often lead to unmotivated and dispassionate employees who regularly call out from scheduled hours or quit without notice. In fact, with an annual turnover rate of 73.8%, the hospitality industry has a higher turnover than many other industries. That's the equivalent of 6% of staff leaving each month.
With ALICE, tasks are clearly stated and assigned to a specific team member. By making it easy for housekeeping staff to know precisely what they need to do next, they are less likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed - which increases retention.
As managers handle tasks and decisions they've never faced before, they are now juggling onboarding more new staff than ever to fill open positions. With ALICE's easy-to-use housekeeping software, new hotel employees are up and running with little or no training compared to other solutions requiring days or weeks. This simplicity makes it possible to hire housekeepers with less experience, which is helpful given the current hotel staffing shortage. By reducing the need for constant training and questions, ALICE makes it possible for your new team members to perform their roles more quickly at expected quality standards.
Prior to 2020, hotel general managers were typically able to staff up and down at will, but the current labor shortage means that lean housekeeping teams need operations software to act as a “force multiplier” - enabling staff to do more with less. It is the employees who will make or break the hotel, not occupancy. Hotel staff should be armed with the tools needed to provide seamless service in an unpredictable labor environment.
Interested in learning more about how you can implement the ALICE platform in your hotel? Schedule a demo!