Business will follow hotels that adopt hygiene measures aggressively: Kumar
Nishant Kumar, Executive Housekeeper, JW Marriott Kolkata, tells us about their 'Commitment to Clean' programme which covers all aspects of safety and cleanliness and has been implemented full scale in the hotel. The programme integrates the use of clinical-grade disinfectants, advanced cleaning technologies and the appropriate trainings for the team to implement the cleanliness steps.
What are the key measures hat you have initiated in order to keep the guests safe from the virus?
The pandemic has come up with a lot of challenges for all across the world and the affect has been quite severe on our sector. However, I believe that tough times don’t last but tough people do. Safety has been the most important factor for all of our guests and us and I believe business will follow hotels which are adopting this aggressively and adjusting faster to the new way of life. While Marriott has always committed to extremely high levels of cleanliness and safety, we are scaling this up further in the pandemic situation. Hence, our commitment to clean programme covers all aspects of safety and cleanliness and has been implemented full scale in our hotel. The programme integrates the use of clinical-grade disinfectants, advanced cleaning technologies and the appropriate trainings for the team to implement the cleanliness steps. All steps have been taken keeping the underlying principles of hospitality intact so that our guests feel the same warmth and comfort while coming to our hotels even under such circumstances.
Lobby and public areas: Seating arrangements, sanitization corners in elevators, front desk, main porch, washrooms, house phones. Sanitization of luggage and other articles at the main porch, thermal screening. Sanitization of used room keys, hotel pens, usage of shields to protect guests and associates during counter interactions. Contactless payment options and QR Codes will be made available and displayed – we have adopted robust measures.
Guest rooms & Guest services: With special attention and disinfection process for high contact surfaces such as door handles, telephones, television remotes, compendiums. A gap of 24 hours will be kept between departure and allocation of the same room for the next guest checking in. Delivery of request items will be made outside the door in a well-presented manner for the guest to collect at doorstep, to minimize contact. There are QR codes at prominent locations to show videos of the actual cleaning process as an assurance measure to every guest.
Restaurants & In-Room Dining: Reallocation of seating with social distancing, digital menu, payment options, service personnel in PPE. In-Room Dining crockery and cutlery to be sanitized and placed in biodegradable sealed covers and delivered to the room by associate in full PPE.
Banquets: Realignment of table layout with social distancing, PPE, sanitizing stations, count of maximum guests allowed as per government guidelines. A handbook with the measures will be given to sales and front of house team members to drive this communication to guests and win confidence by demonstrating the protocols followed.
Kitchens: Implementation of single-serve food portions, whole fruits, sneeze guards, social distancing, curated menu replacing the buffet set ups, PPE and neatness in areas will play a large role in instilling faith in guests who come to dine.
Collaterals: Present in common areas along with messages and QR codes demonstrating cleanliness measures taken by the hotel. Spot inspections - will be done by senior leadership to ensure adherence of the above.
Have you upgraded your hygiene SOPs?
All the cleaning and sanitization processes have been brought under one umbrella of Commitment to Clean programme. Each property has a commitment to clean champion who handles a team of cleanliness champions from each department. The standards have been upgraded to cover all touchpoints of a guest journey. Contactless service and service delivery models have been developed along with the optimum utilization of advanced cleaning technology and clinical grade chemical disinfectants.
Are there any new SOPs which have come into effect?
The foundation of service and cleaning remains the same. The addition of safety protocols have been implemented using a few new SOPs incorporating the local laws and guidelines. All services have been designed keeping contactless service and social distancing norms in mind which ensures the safety of our guests and associates.
How many people do you have working under you, i.e. the housekeeping staff?
We operate with the mindset that every associate of the hotel is part of the housekeeping department. Maintaining hygiene and cleanliness standards across the property has become the paramount objective for all and it’s got into our professional and personal DNA. To equip more and more associates with basic knowledge of housekeeping we have been doing cross exposure and multi skill training for our team members from food and beverage service, culinary and spa. The associates are part of the housekeeping department for 30-60 days period and are trained in routine operations. These trained resources help in training more associates of the respective departments in basic cleaning and upkeep procedures.
How do you ensure your staff safety measures?
Safety of our associates is as important as that for our esteemed guests. As a brand, we have taken all measures to ensure that our team members are provided with a safe and secure work environment. Every team member goes through a temperature check at the entrance of the hotel. At the entry point, everyone is provided with three ply clinical masks and gloves to ensure that all associates irrespective which area they work in have the best possible safety equipment. All the associates are provided with a fresh towel to take shower in the locker facility available to negate any sought of contamination that could have happened during their transit from their homes. Sanitizer stations have been created at every floor and at strategic points so that everyone has a sanitizer available at their disposal. All the hotel employees have gone through the new normal training sessions reiterating the importance of maintaining social distance and the new operational safety measures that have been implemented. Work stations which are shared by multiple associates have a sanitizer right next to the point and the team members are encouraged to sanitize the area and their hands before and after the use of the systems. All back of the house areas like lockers, dining areas corridors etc as sanitized every day using clinical grade disinfectants provided by our commercial chemical partners. To ensure safety for all associates we work at 50 per cent of our total human resource at a time. This helps in maintaining social distancing at all staff facilities like dining areas and lockers and ensures safety for all. The seating arrangements in the associate dining areas have been realigned in a way that not more than 2 associates dine together in a table. All back of the house elevators have a limit of maximum 2 people inside them so that in an enclosed area safety precautions are maintained. Wearing masks at all times is mandatory for all ensuring.
Heart of the house plays a very crucial role, hence reallocation of seating arrangements in the staff dining area, hand washing protocol for associates with signage’s in locker rooms, near washbasins, day use of a locker, strict protocols of hygiene and uniform exchange. Setting up of 2 hourly alerts across the hotel for sanitization and disinfection of work stations. We will look after their wellbeing with immunity-boosting beverages available to associates during their breaks; special care of restrooms and hygiene supplies will be given to associates. We can also partake in periodic supplies of essentials or hygiene products to medical workers, police officials or others in need at this point - as a brand this should be our strength - our reach, our heart and giving back to society. Hygiene guidelines to be provided to Security while allowing entry of associates, guests and vendors, receiving of goods into the hotel.
What is the need of the hour when it comes to hygiene standards?
Hygiene is the new fundamental necessity and overall awareness and cautions. For everyone’s safety it is important that the standards are followed by all both in their personal as well as professional lives. Guests would travel only when they feel safe to stay and use a hotel facility. The confidence of safety comes from a hygienically clean space.
Is there any way to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading from guests to staff or vice-versa?
Every associate is provided with clinical grade 3 ply masks and gloves along with sanitizers at every point to ensure their safety. To mitigate the risk of cross-contamination among guests and associates all surfaces and items are sanitized and disinfected before handling. All high touch surfaces and high traffic areas are cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals. Special laundry wash cycles and linen procedures have been developed to address the issue of linen before and after processing. The extensive use of cleaning protocols, safety gears and maintaining the social distancing norms is the only way to prevent the affect of pandemic.
What are the staff's new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?
Safety of our associates is very important hence an entire set of standards have been developed for all associates to follow starting their entry into the hotel till they return home. All the facilities have been provided for the associates with an added focus on hygiene and safety. Hence reallocation of seating arrangements in the staff dining area, hand washing protocol for associates with signage’s in locker rooms, near washbasins, day use of a locker, strict protocols of hygiene and uniform exchange. Setting up of 2 hourly alerts across the hotel for sanitization and disinfection of work stations. We will look after their well-being with immunity-boosting beverages available to associates during their breaks; special care of restrooms and hygiene supplies will be given to associates. We can also partake in periodic supplies of essentials or hygiene products to medical workers, police officials or others in need at this point - as a brand this should be our strength - our reach, our heart and giving back to society. Hygiene guidelines to be provided to Security while allowing entry of associates, guests and vendors, receiving of goods into the hotel.
Lastly, will you all keep the standards, measures and guidelines the same post COVID?
I personally would keep all the hygiene and sanitization steps intact even post covid as even in normal scenarios they are beneficial. The only change I would like to make would be to remove the masks from all the associates so that the hospitality with a smile which our guests are fond of will be clearly visible to our guests.
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