News for the Hospitality Executive
Case Study: Top-Notch Housekeeping Consultant
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii (July 27, 2010) — The Waikiki Resort Hotel has a history common among many hotels in Waikiki. Owned by Korean Airlines, the 275-unit hotel was built during the construction boom of the 1970s and renovated a couple of years ago during Waikiki’s revival period, a time of unprecedented economic growth and investment. And now, like most Hawaii hotels — facing the reality of a global recession — it is tasked with doing more with less. The word efficiency comes up frequently when speaking with Hotel Manager Glenn P. Vergara, particularly in regards to the hotel’s housekeeping department.
“We used to have an executive housekeeper position that was eliminated just a little over a year ago,” explains Glenn. “The rooms division manager responsibilities were expanded to include housekeeping. We felt that, whereas he was strong in front office, he needed some support in the housekeeping area. And that’s where Hao came in.”
Hao Dang Tanacsos is president of HAOsekeeping Inc., a professional housekeeping consulting and training firm. “As a housekeeping consultant,” she says, “I offer innovative methods of delivering the tools needed to maintain tight inventory control and develop good labor management, resulting in a smoothly run housekeeping department that works within a lean budget while exceeding guest expectations.” And that is exactly what she did for the Waikiki Resort Hotel.
In October 2009, Glenn contracted Hao’s services — she is on property one full week every two months — to improve the hotel’s housekeeping department. At the time, departmental issues included storage and organization, managing supplies and inventory, and consistency in room cleanliness and presentation. Hao describes the housekeeping department, when she was hired, as having a lack of systems. She says, “It was still running in an old-fashioned way.”
In the beginning, Hao made a lot of changes by implementing new procedures, protocols and systems, including: retraining the housekeepers on guest room cleaning and presentation to ensure uniformity; providing leadership training for supervisors; reorganizing materials and supplies for easier inventory and retrieval; and establishing safety checklists. After implementing most of the changes, Hao continues working with the hotel through an on-site process of analysis, reevaluation, reassessment, further training and tweaking.
“It’s brought consistency to standards,” Glenn says. “An example is, in the public cleaning area, there were several positions that were overlapping each other. You had certain areas that were under the oversight of two people, so there was no clear accountability. And then there were areas that were ignored. She’s made changes to that so that the property receives full attention to details.”
One common concern when introducing a consultant to the property is whether or not the staff will accept the individual or the changes he or she presents. This has not been an issue with Hao. “The housekeepers respond to her readily,” Glenn says. “Any time you have a consultant come in and they bring a whole series of changes — especially for the team that we have over here, a lot of long timers — there’s going to be resistance to change. They may choose to go ahead with the new procedures, and then after she’s gone, they may revert back to the old way of doing things. They’ve embraced her. They’ve embraced her way. They trust her. They respect her. She has a way of connecting with people.”
Hao explains: “When I came to the department, I did not tell them what they had done wrong. I tell them: Let’s direct something better, easier for everyone. We would like to retain return business, and that means we have to do better. It’s all about the guest, and I’m here to make things better. I’m not here to fix their problems.”
The best proof of the department’s successful transformation is in the hotel’s dramatically improved ratings. “Our Trip Advisor score at one time last year was No. 46,” Glenn says, “and that has climbed to No. 25. So that’s a huge jump, and a big part of that is what housekeeping has done.” The hotel’s Expedia rating also improved, moving up from 3.8 to 4.3 on a scale of one to five.
Having seen all Hao’s hard work, and the transformation of the housekeeping department over the past months, Glenn reports: “I’ve been really happy with Hao. She does great work, and she commits more hours than what she guarantees the company. So if she says she’s going to do 40 hours over the course of the week, she puts in 50-60 hours but gets paid for 40-hour work. She’s a hard worker, so we get good value for what we pay.”
Hao is continuing to innovate ways to improve her clients’ housekeeping departments. Currently under way is the testing of a brand new computer software program, called HaleTechs, which Hao developed with her business partner Cindy Waipa. (After testing, HaleTechs will launch in August 2010.)
For a property like the Waikiki Resort Hotel, Hao says, “This software will actually help them a lot.” The HaleTechs software, acting like a virtual executive housekeeper, guides the user through the management of inventory, labor and expenses while also ensuring that projects are kept on time and on track. “The HaleTechs software will always be there for the housekeeping supervisor,” Hao says. “It’s one click away and, like a supervisor, guides the user through each step.”
Glenn’s confidence in Hao is unwavering. “I’m sure whatever this software is that’s coming with her stamp of approval, I know it’s going to do wonders,” he says, “so we look forward to seeing what it is.” He also adds, “I feel blessed that, among all the properties that she works with and with all the opportunities that she has, she has time to work with us.”
About HAOsekeeping Inc.
About HaleTechs® LLC
About the Waikiki Resort Hotel