By Nikhil Nath, CEO, Knowcross
Imagine the following scenario. You’ve just arrived at a hotel you booked online after combing through countless reviews and hotel sites leading up to your business trip. The website boasted cutting-edge amenities and rooms adorned with modern furnishings, sprawling grounds, and an incredible on-property restaurant serving up delicious local cuisine. Following check-in, you bring your luggage up to your room only to discover it doesn’t have some of the amenities you confirmed in your booking. To make matters worse, you attempt to adjust the in-room thermostat only to realize it has clearly malfunctioned, keeping your room at a much higher temperature than is comfortable. You quickly phone down to the front desk and are instructed to come back to the lobby to address your concerns with a staff member. However, once you get there, you find yourself stuck behind a queue of other requests and guests and start to wonder how long it will be before you can even expect a resolution. You haven’t even made it to the raved-about restaurant yet, but you already feel disappointed by the service the hotel has provided. This doesn’t exactly paint the picture of a positive stay, does it? Now, let’s take a look at the other side of this scenario. Imagine you are a housekeeper at the hotel mentioned above. When you completed the turnover of room 215, you noticed that the AC unit was seemingly out of commission. Upon completing your manual report of the room and duties performed, you made a note for maintenance to attend to the unit ASAP. Unfortunately, communication breakdowns between departments are a familiar crux throughout the property due to painstaking, paper-bound processes that rarely contribute to effective, timely communication across teams. As a result, the next guest checks into 215, and immediately phones down to the front desk with complaints. Unsurprisingly, the front desk is overloaded with guest intake, requests, and complaints, trying to juggle each request carefully and re-direct inquiries to the appropriate staff member. This doesn’t exactly paint the picture of an effective operational model, does it?
Looking to the Past to Envision a Better Future
Unfortunately, scenarios such as the ones described above became something of a hospitality tradition over the years, as properties continued to rely on legacy platforms and outdated processes. As hotels worked to meet ever-evolving guest expectations, the systems they had in place to manage those primary pillars of their operational structure simply couldn’t keep up. Fortunately, hoteliers now find themselves in a position to steadily adapt to modern processes supported by more advanced platforms.
Transformed by Technology
Hoteliers around the globe are increasingly turning to technology to optimize operations. Rather than relying on a single platform or system, hoteliers are creating integrated ‘stacks’ of customized, cloud-based applications that cater to various segments of the guest journey as well as the operational needs of their property. By investing in software designed with specific capabilities, such as housekeeping management, today’s most successful hotels are empowering their staff with the tools to do more, with less. Let’s take the housekeeping department, for example. The cleanliness of a room is a hospitality non-negotiable and can severely impact impressions and reviews. In fact, recent research shows that if a hotel doesn’t pass the cleanliness test, leisure and business guests will book elsewhere. Even further, 10% of a hotel’s total complaints in a year can be attributed to room cleanliness. With this in mind, housekeeping represents an undeniably integral element of any hotel’s operation. Yet the housekeeping departments in many hotels are still using paper-based methods that are inefficient and don’t provide adequate information to staff members. Even further, traditional time clocks and paper time-sheets are unable to track or measure staff productivity, and legacy two-way radios create a problematic lack of communication throughout shifts.
With the help of advanced housekeeping solutions, manual tasks such as scheduling, updates, room assignments, tracking, reports, and requests are automated and centralized. Cross-department communication is reformed with real-time alerts and notifications— all powered by the convenience of mobile. Even further, the implementation of a comprehensive management platform allows for the elimination of paper-based processes, an integral step in a ‘greener’, more sustainable direction. As sustainability has become a major focus of hoteliers in the last 10 years, this shift to a more streamlined and sustainable property management framework is welcomed by staff and guests alike. Not only that, but with rising labor costs — $70 billion to be exact, notoriously high turnover, especially in the housekeeping department, hoteliers can’t afford to remain attached to an antiquated process that no longer serves their property, their guests, or their staff. In fact, across all property types, total labor costs are the largest single hotel operating expense — and continue to rise with each passing year. According to Chigun Duygulo, Executive Housekeeper at Florida’s Coral Springs Marriott, an average housekeeper cleans 17 or 18 rooms per shift, and Bjorn Hanson, associate professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, estimates the cost of cleaning a luxury room is approximately $22 per day. With this in mind, hoteliers are increasingly motivated to invest in solutions which allow them (and their staff) to save time, work smarter, empower staff and even reinforce staff safety via cross-platform integrations.
In short, the use of a dedicated and intelligent housekeeping application such as KNOW Housekeeping and Service, can dramatically speed up the process of turning rooms over, leading to lower costs and higher revenues. Even further, it provides hoteliers with the data and insights to continuously improve productivity, performance, and service, which directly impacts guest satisfaction, online reviews, and ultimately, guest loyalty.
This is a modern take on housekeeping — and this is the future.