I- HOUSEKEEPING DEPARTMENT:
The Housekeeping Department is one of the busiest sections in the hotel as far as the variety of functions performed, and number of staff working. It is usually situated at the laundry room or any other convenient place close to Housekeeping Supplies.
The Housekeeping Department is responsible for:
- Neatness and Cleanliness of all guest rooms and most public areas
- Maintenance of recycled and non-recycled cleaning inventories
Some of the above mentioned functions might however be leased to a concessionaire. In this case, hotel shall still have a housekeeping department but to a minimum number of staff!
The Housekeeping Department is headed by an Executive Housekeeper (sometimes referred to as Housekeeping Manager)
The procedure of cleaning guest rooms by the housekeeping department can be summarized in the following way:
- Checkout clerk (or cashier) contacts the Housekeeping Department that a room became vacant and needs cleaning!
- Housekeeping Department updates the room status from occupied to on-change and sends a room maid to clean the room
- Room maid cleans the room and contacts the housekeeping department back about the latest status and condition of the room (especially for out-of-order and out-of-service!)
- If the room is Out Of Order for any reason (i.e. Room is extensively dirty, or needs repair!), then the Housekeeping Department deducts that room from those available for sale, until either scheduled to be extensively cleaned or post to the confirmation from the Maintenance Department that the deficiency was repaired!
- Housekeeping Department sends their inspectors to check whether the stated room has been cleaned to the hotel standards or not!
- If the room is cleaned to hotel’s standards, the Housekeeping Department shall update the room status from On-Change to Clean and Available for Sale and communicate this to the Front Office Department!
- If the room is not cleaned to hotel standards, inspectors communicate to the Housekeeping Department that the room shall be cleaned again!
II- INTER-RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOUSEKEEPING AND FRONT OFFICE DEPARTMENT:
The main two important areas where collaboration is vital between the Housekeeping and Front Office Department are listed below:
1. Have always clean rooms for expected arrivals and stayovers
2. Satisfy special guest needs as far as amenities and facilities requested in their rooms are concerned
1. Cleaning and Inspection Process:
The Room Status for each room determines how much effort, time, labor, and hence scheduled staff is needed by the Housekeeping Department on any shift.
The Housekeeping Department shall first clean rooms for expected arrivals first, then stayover rooms and eventually vacant rooms! The reason is that rooms for new arrivals takes more time to be cleaned to hotel standards again and that guests might come any time to request their rooms even before the pre-determined beginning of check-in time!
Moreover, bearing in mind the cleaning procedure of guest rooms explained above, there should be a communication between the Front Office Department and Housekeeping Department to be able to communicate the recent room status of each room! This communication is vital because nobody would like to make a guest wait in the lobby because his/her room is not yet clean or due to the fact that the Housekeeping Department did not communicate on real time the status to the Front Office! Lastly, the Housekeeping Department shall ensure that every room maid shall use efficiently most of his valuable time in cleaning not in going back and forth in the corridors!
Yet, since some hotels might operate under the manual or Semi-automated systems, some delays and hence, problems might occur! To illustrate, let’s consider the guest room cleaning process along with the different operating modes under which a hotel might operate:
a) Manual System:
Under this very system, due to the fact that room maids shall first clean rooms for new arrival, then stayover rooms and at last vacant rooms, these very cleaning personnel have two ways to do it:
· Post to cleaning each room, go to the Housekeeping Department, inform. them about the status and then come back to clean the next room. This would solve the potential problem that a guest might be waiting for a clean room due to a communication of the housekeeping department not in real tome! However this would decrease the number of rooms cleaned and inspected by room maids and inspectors, which would mean higher housekeeping labor costs!
· Post to cleaning certain category of rooms, and/or all rooms, room maids inform. the Housekeeping Department, and then inspectors would inspect all rooms, at the same time, inform. the department about the recent statuses!! This would increase maids’ and inspectors’ efficiency but would cause guests waiting in the lobby to be escorted to their rooms!
b) Semi-automated System:
Under this very system, room maids and inspectors might use either a phone machine situated at the center of each corridor, or pagers and beepers to communicate the recent room status. This proved to be efficient as to minimize labor cost and the time that a guest spends on the lobby waiting to be escorted to his/her room! However, this might create some problems:
· Upon the usage of beepers, the Housekeeping Department doesn’t know exactly which room is cleaned or inspected, therefore will spend needless time to be certain which would put more stress on Check-in personnel to convince a waiting guest in the lobby area!
· Guests tend to be both not at ease and dissatisfied seeing hotel personnel in their rooms using beepers and might think that something wrong happened in their rooms!
c) Fully Automated System
This is the best system, which eliminates nearly all time losses spent by room maids and inspectors, to inform. the Housekeeping Department and the time needed to be spent needlessly at the lobby area!
Under this very system, each room maid and inspector, prior to the fulfillment of his or her duties in the room, can send a coded message from the guest’s room telephone to the Housekeeping Department. Later an electronic message can be send automatically to check-in personnel confirming that the room is cleaned to standards and waiting for the next arrival!
2. Room Status Report:
The Front Office and the Housekeeping Department shall prepare at the same time, as frequent as needed by management, their room status reports, which lists, according to each department, the recent room status of each room in the hotel. Later, these two reports shall be cross-referenced and compared to detect room status discrepancies and correct them as soon as possible in order to maximize room revenue, detect skippers before it is too late…
In the manual system, room status reports shall be reconciled at least each hour. This very frequency might increase as the business volume increases (i.e. in the high season)!
In the semi-automated system, reconciliation shall be at least once per shift (preferably at the beginning of each shift)!
Lastly under the fully automated system, since housekeeping and front office department’s communication is ensured electronically on real time, reconciliation needs to be done only at the night shift by the night auditor!
3. Room Guest Needs Satisfaction:
If at the reservation or registration process, guests have communicated certain specific needs related to certain specific amenities and/or facilities that needed to be provided in the room, then the Front Office Department shall communicate this directly to the Housekeeping Department or indirectly to the Concierge who shall further communicate this to the Housekeeping Department and follow up to ensure the actual provision in a timely and accurate manner!