Role of Housekeeping in Hospitality Industry
The aim of all Hotels or establishments that offer accommodation is to provide their customers with clean, attractive, comfortable and welcoming surroundings that offer value for money. Nothing sends a stronger message than cleanliness in a hospitality industry. No level of service, friendliness or glamour can equal the sensation a guest has upon entering a spotless, tidy and conveniently arranged room. Both management and guest consider keeping the place clean and in good order a necessity, for a hotel to command a fair price and to get repeat business.
A survey carried out showed 63% travelers rated cleanliness and appearance as their first priority in their choice of hotels. The housekeeping department takes pride in keeping the hotel clean and comfortable so as to create a ‘home away from home’. Good housekeeping is considered as the backbone of accommodation sector as its main aim is to provide a clean comfortable, safe and aesthetically appealing environment.
Housekeeping is an operational department of the hotel. It is responsible for cleanliness, maintenance, aesthetic upkeep of rooms, public areas, back areas and surroundings.
A hotel survives on the sale of rooms, food, beverage, and other minor services like laundry, health clubs, health spa, sightseeing, shopping arcades etc. The sale of rooms constitutes a minimum of 50% of these sales.
Thus a major part of hotels margin of profit comes from room sales because a room once made can be sold over and over again. However, the days when the room remains unsold there is a total loss of revenue. To this extent, rooms are more perishable than food. The housekeeping budget typically accounts for 20% of the properties total operating expenditure. The largest element of operating cost in the housekeeping department is labour. The effort that the housekeeping department makes in giving a guest a desirable room has a direct bearing on the guest experience in the hotel.
Guest rooms are the heart of the hotel. Unless the décor is appropriate, the air odour free, furnishing and upholstery is spotlessly clean the hotel may loose a guest as a potential customer. The housekeeping department not only prepares the clean guestroom on a timely basis for the guests who are arriving but also cleans and maintains everything in the hotel so that the property is fresh and attractive as the day it opens for business. The housekeeping thus contributes in a big way towards the overall reputation of a property. It is a 24 hour and 365 day operation. Scientific housekeeping demands the employment of the most effective cleaning materials and procedures, attention to purchasing the most suitable linen supplies, maintenance of decorative area under the housekeeping department purview and proper organization and supervision.
Other than hotels, professional housekeeping service is very much in demand in hospitals, cooperate buildings, airports, airlines, cruisers, banks shopping arcade. Since most such organizations prefer to out source these functions, contract housekeeping is becoming a lucrative entrepreneurship venture these days.
AIMS OBJECTIVES & RESPONSIBILITIES of HOUSEKEEPING DEPARTMENT:
· To achieve the maximum possible efficiency in ensuring the care and comfort of the guests.
a) Establish a welcoming atmosphere and ensure courteous, reliable service from all the staff of the department.
b) Ensure a high standard of cleanliness and general upkeep in all areas for which the department is responsible.
c) Provide linen in rooms, food service areas etc and maintain an inventory for the same.
· To provide uniforms for all the staff and maintain adequate inventory for the same.
a) Cater to the laundry requirement, staff uniforms and guest clothing.
b) Deal with the lost and found articles. This ensures the smooth running of the department.
· To resist in the maintenance of the building while contributing to a safe and healthy environment.
· To provide and maintain the floral decorations and landscaped areas of the hotel.
· To select the right contractor and ensure that the quality of work is maintained.
· To coordinate the renovation of the property as and when required in consultation with the management and the interior designer.
· To coordinate with the purchase department of the guest supplies, cleaning agents, equipments, linen, carpets and other items used in the hotel.
· To ensure training control and supervision of all staff attached to the department.
· To establish a good working relationship with other departments.
· To ensure that safety and security regulations are made known to all the staff of the department.
· To keep the G.M and administrator informed of all matters requiring special attention.
Resident guest may be loyal to a particular chain of hotels or properties.Eg. Holiday Inn, Hyatt, etc.Change of brand loyalty can be explained as a matter of habit, maximization of value to price or past experience with service since it is difficult to explain pre purchased information about services. Consumers may be reluctant to change brands as they are uncertain.
Guest also become brand loyal as they realize that repeat patronage to a particular property gives them personalize service and greater satisfaction of their needs. This is due to the fact that guest is recognized as his needs are known by the staff.
Decreasing brand loyalty may be due to:
· The availability of individual brands only in certain locations. This forces the client to choose another brand. In this way the consumer learns about competing brands and is able to make a more realistic evaluation of the kind of brand he would like to patronize.
· Travel writers give useful tips about different hotels, their services and comfort of stay.
· Travel agents also help in giving information about different hotels.
· Trade magazines often do monthly assessments of different hotels.
AREAS of RESPONSIBILTY of HOUSEKEEPING DEPARTMENT:
· Guestrooms / Floors:
Room attendants and floor supervisors are responsible for the cleanliness maintenance and security of guestrooms and surrounding areas.
· Public Areas:
a) Front of the house areas.(Eg. swimming pools, parking area, club, food service area etc.)
b) Back of the house areas.(Eg. Staff canteen, service elevator, locker rooms, administrative canteen, laundry, linen rooms, basement, store except kitchen which is cleaned by the kitchen stewards)
c) Linen and Uniform rooms:
The housekeeping department is responsible for its functioning for the repairs and renewal of linen and for maintenance of proper inventory and stock records of all linen items. Linen includes room linen, food service linen, soft furnishings, uniforms, bed and bath linen.
d) Laundry: OPL (On Premises Laundry):
If the laundry is on premises then the guest laundry from the rooms is directly collected and delivered by the laundry ballet. However all hotel linen is first collected in the linen room and then sent to the laundry for washing. OPL (off premises laundry) is the laundry of both the guest and linen which is done by the external laundry. All the linen including the guest laundry is collected in the linen room from it is sent to the external laundry for washing. The washed linen including the guest laundry is collected at the linen from where it is sent to the guest rooms and other service points.
g) Resident Guests:
They are given their service by room attendance and they are not charged for it. Some hotels have a shoeshine machine in the corridor.
It could either be given out for contract or be a part of the responsibility of the housekeeping department. An employee of the housekeeping department would be required to do the flower arrangements in the lobby, guestrooms, restrooms, restaurants. Any banquet requirements like a backdrop for a wedding are done on contract.
i) Extra Room Complimentries & Supplies:
Iron, first-aid, hot water bags, ice bags, thermometer, hair dryer etc are given out for guest use at no extra cost. However a request for extra beds should be routed through the Front office since the guest would be charged extra for it.