COVID-19 has prompted sweeping changes in many industries around the world. Some of them will be forever changed, while others will only face temporary reforms before reverting back to pre-pandemic operations.
The hospitality industry had a tough 2020, and in a short 10 months, hotel operations quickly started to look different. Whether these are permanent changes, or will only persist for a few years, only time will tell. But for now, hotel housekeeping departments look and operate differently in the new normal.
Hotel operations software has had a significant impact on how housekeeping teams operate. While housekeeping software made a significant impact on teams pre-pandemic, it has certainly gone from a nice to have, to a must-have at any size or type of hotel.
Without housekeeping software, the “pivot” that so many hotels have had to do, has been a challenge. Here are four ways housekeeping departments have changed and the new roles that housekeeping staff are adapting to:
Lean Teams are the New Norm
With a reduction in travel all around the world, the number of housekeeping staff at hotels (and hotel employees in general) has decreased significantly. Lean teams are being asked to do more with less, which requires streamlined task management, operations, and communication.
With fewer staff members, but often the same amount of work to do, housekeeping departments need to think and act strategically in real time to effectively keep guests and staff safe as well as prove that every inch of a hotel’s public areas and hotel rooms have been cleaned, sanitized and inspected.
The New Role of Housekeeping Staff: Housekeeping employees are being asked to wear multiple hats. Housekeeping managers and supervisors are on the floor, filling the role of room attendants, and completing daily housekeeping tasks. In order to work efficiently and prevent a decline in guest satisfaction, it’s all hands on deck, always.
Increased and Urgent Need for Flexibility and Visibility
COVID-19 has facilitated the urgent need for flexibility within housekeeping departments. Gone are the days that a housekeeping manager is able to assign rooms for turnover or stayover service in the morning, and not make any change to the schedule or assignments again that day (although, it can be argued that a day with no changes was never the norm!).
To compensate for the new urgency, housekeeping management solutions with the following features are most effective:
- Two-way integration with a hotel’s PMS: Knowing which rooms are and aren’t available is essential for front desk staff, and housekeeping staff need to know the second that a guest has checked-out so they can begin cleaning guest rooms.
- Flexible user permissions: Allow room attendants to act as self-inspectors or enable front desk attendants to make room moves quickly.
- The ability to adapt to floor or section shutdowns within a hotel: In 2020 we saw hotels temporarily close floors and wings of hotels overnight. Operations software with flexibility to customize supervisor sections is essential.
- Room auto-prioritization: Flexible settings reduce manual work for managers.
The New Role of Housekeeping Staff: Housekeeping staff are now constantly on their toes, ready to adjust their schedules, and address urgent issues. Hotel housekeeping jobs now require employees to be agile, flexible, and willing and able to use housekeeping software to manage their workloads and employees.
With the ability for guests to opt in and out of housekeeping service daily, housekeeping departments must be prepared and staffed for a large workload, but also agile enough to scale back the scope of their work at a moment’s notice.
Increased Focus on Cleanliness
Nobody has ever wanted to stay in an unclean hotel, and that was true pre-pandemic as well! COVID-19 has been an eye-opener for many people around the world when it comes to germs and cleanliness. Guest safety is the ultimate act of hospitality, and cleanliness plays a large role (along with many other suggestions from the centers for disease control) in keeping people safe.
The housekeeping department has always been the most important and visible when it comes to hotel cleanliness and now is no different. Housekeeping departments are under a spotlight and hotel management, along with hotel guests have high expectations.
Housekeeping staff will be asked to clean more frequently, and perhaps with different cleaning supplies and cleaning chemicals.
Adopting New Standard Operating Procedures
With ever changing SOPs, and consistently high expectations for housekeeping departments, the formal inspection process is now more important than ever. Checklists, embedded within housekeeping software have been a key (and essential!) feature for many housekeeping departments. Checklists act as reminders for everyday tasks but also as a guide for new procedures.
The New Role of Housekeeping Staff: Housekeeping departments are not just responsible for cleaning. They are now being asked more regularly to prove that they have cleaned and sanitized hotel guest rooms and common areas. Housekeeping departments need to be more transparent to their guests when, and to what extent their room was cleaned. Transparency is key in order to reassure the guest that your hotel is doing everything it can to keep guests safe.
ALICE Housekeeping gives your staff the appropriate tools for immediate, honest communication from your team directly to the customer!