Housekeeping and Other Departments
No matter what the type of hotel or the category of traveler, hotels are in the service industry and their goal is to meet the guest expectations.
To help achieving this goal, all hotel staff must work as a team to provide consistently high quality service that promotes guest loyalty.
The housekeeping department is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the guest rooms, public areas, office spaces and back-of-house areas in the hotel so that the property is as fresh and attractive as on its first day of business.
The following are brief descriptions of the relationship of housekeeping department with other departments:
Rooms are the main concern of both departments. They must continually exchange information on room status so that check-out rooms can be returned to use as quickly as possible.
In addition, renovations, repairs and maintenance can be scheduled during periods of low occupancy. The housekeeping department needs to report to the front office any unusual guest behaviour that may result in loss of revenue or bad publicity for the hotel.
It is the housekeeping staffs responsibilities to request the engineering department to complete minor repairs in order to avoid a major breakdown. They must work closely as a team, to complete preventive maintenance and renovations with minimum disturbance to guests.
The engineering department also expects housekeeping staff to contribute to the efforts of conserving heat, water and electricity.
Responsibilities for security include patrolling the property, monitoring surveillance equipment, and in general, ensuring that guests, visitors, and employees are safe and secure at the hotel.
Since housekeeping personnel work in every area of the hotel, they are in a position to contribute to the hotel’s security efforts. For example, when cleaning guest rooms, attendants are usually responsible for locking and securing doors and windows.
Food and Beverage
The relationship between the housekeeping department and the food and beverage department involves the supply of table linen and uniforms. The banquet department, in particular, must advise housekeeping of its anticipated needs since banquet business may fluctuate considerably.
A good relationship should be maintained between housekeeping and room service to ensure provision of timely housekeeping services, e.g. removal of trays and tables from the corridors to service landings. In some hotels, housekeeping is also responsible for mini-bar replenishment, although the revenue goes to food and beverage department.
Sales and Marketing
The sales and marketing department relies heavily on the housekeeping department for prompt delivery of goods/services as promised to the guests.
The major problems, especially in large hotels, is back-to-back conventions and groups. Front office, sales and marketing and housekeeping share the responsibility to ensure that rooms are ready and cleaned for the arriving groups of guests.
The Purchasing department buys all cleaning and guest supplies. Its relationship with the housekeeping department is self-evident.
When it comes to deciding what brand, quality or size should be stocked - whether the item is cleaning powder or mattresses - the executive housekeeper and the purchasing agent must pool their knowledge to consider the cost and availability of the products.
What would be the correct hotel department/staff involved so as to meet customer needs in the following scenarios.
A guest wants to get a bouquet and some chocolate for her girlfriend’s birthday.
A guest calls the housekeeping department to complain that there is no hot water in the bathroom.
A guest orders room service.
A business traveler discovers that his personal computer left in the guest room has been stolen.
An old lady feels sick in her room
The main function of housekeeping department is to maintain the cleanliness of a hotel property. Cleaning tasks are mainly divided into two different categories:
Public Area Cleaning
Room cleaning refers to the cleaning tasks of all guest rooms in a hotel property.
It is the responsibility of the room attendants to follow the proper procedures of room cleaning so suitable rooms can be provided to guests during their stay in the hotel. Room attendants should ensure that the rooms are, tidy, clean and comfortable.
Most hotel room attendants work the a.m. shift as check-outs usually happen before 12 noon. Prior to the commencement of their duties, attendants are required to attend a morning briefing conducted by the executive housekeeper or the supervisor. Issues such as complaints or problems associated with conduct or work procedures will be addressed during the meeting, which also provides important information and direction to room attendants which include:
How many rooms are required to be cleaned for the day?
Will any large groups or tours arrive early and request rooms?
Are there any special cleaning requests, such as the setting up of extra beds before guest arrivals?
Room assignment sheets and room key cards will be distributed to room attendants during the briefing. The number of rooms to be cleaned by each room attendant ranges from 10 to 15, which varies according to the room sizes, room grades, complexity of room settings (e.g. supplies and amenities provided) and also the cleaning standard as required by the hotel. The time taken to clean a standard check-out room is around 30 minutes.
Less time is required for cleaning an occupied room, this should be considered by supervisors in room assignments to ensure workloads can be fairly assigned to all room attendants.
The preparation works to be completed by room attendants before their cleaning tasks include stocking the maid cart and prioritizing the room cleaning orders.
The maid cart should be filled with sufficient linens and guest supplies required for the days workload.
Rooms being cleaned are always prioritized in a logical order as listed below:
Occupied rooms with service request
Rooms blocked for arrivals
The standard procedures of cleaning a guest
room are more or less the same in all hotels.
Room attendants with no experience are
always provided with training in order to
learn the skills and methods for performing
their room cleaning duties.
The attached table summarizes the major steps
performed by room attendants during the room
Public areas refer to all front-of-house and back-of-house areas inside the hotel property. Generally floor plans are sub-divided into sections which help assign job duties to cleaners or public area attendants.
The schedules and frequencies of cleaning depend mainly on the level of traffic and also the conveniences and safety of both staff and guests.
Hotels provide a variety of guest supplies and amenities for the guest’s needs and convenience.
Guest supplies refer to items the guest requires as part of the hotel stay, e.g. toilet tissues, hangers etc. Guest amenities refer to the non-essentials that enhance the guest’s stay, e.g. in-room safe etc. The housekeeping department is responsible for storing, distributing, controlling and maintaining adequate inventory levels of both guest supplies and guest amenities.
Special codes and terminologies are widely used by hotels in enhancing the inter-departmental communications.
Room status codes are mainly applied by the housekeeping and front office departments and can always be seen in the reports of rooms division and on computer systems.
The security division is responsible for maintaining and implementing procedures which protect the personal property of guests and employees and the hotel itself. Every hotel has its own procedures and guidelines for staff on how to handle guest valuables, keys and telephone calls.
Any unauthorized disclosure of guest information to anyone by hotel staff will be regarded as misconduct. Hotel staff should never disclose guest’s information.
Think about the following scenario: A guest enquires about a missing item in his room, but the Lost and Found Log book has no record of it.
How would you handle this situation if you were the assistant executive housekeeper?
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