Housekeeping Going Front of the House
Gone are the days when the housekeeping team were associated with the longest serving members of the staff, with just a few very talented individual. Now, housekeepers are focussed not only on what they are doing in their properties, but also look at global trends and more importantly look at their career charts as well.
KEEPING IT TOGETHER: (L to R) vaishali P Sinha, Director Housekeeping, I-PHA; Suchitra Gambhir, Executive Housekeeper, The Oberoi Gurugram; Harinder Kishore, Director of Housekeeping, Andaz Delhi; Monika Yadav, Housekeeping Manager, Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott, Bengaluru; Nitin Tanwar, Executuve Housekeeper, Leela Ambience Gurugram; and Adhish Poddar, Executive Housekeeper, Hyatt Regency.
THE HOUSEKEEPING department of a hotel is crucial for a successfully operating hotel. After all, it is the housekeeping department which looks after every element of the hotels ‘face’ from the lobby and the restaurants, to the banquet set up and of course all the rooms.
Gone are the days when the housekeeping team were associated with the longest serving members of the staff, with just a few very talented individual. Now, housekeepers are focussed not only on what they are doing in their properties, but also look at global trends and more importantly look at their career charts as well. They are no longer nameless faceless individuals who stay in the background, but are encouraged to meet and interact with guests.
India has a huge potential in the travel and tourism market offering a diverse portfolio of products - cruises, adventure, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. According to the Indian Brand Equity Forum, the total contribution by travel and tourism to India’s GDP is expected to increase from US$ 136.3 billion in 2015-16 to US$ 275.2 billion in 2025.
International hotel chains will likely increase their expansion and investment plans in India, and are expected to account for 50 per cent share in the Indian hospitality industry by 2022.
For making the business into success, there comes a great need for the collaboration of all the department of a hotel. Each department plays a very vital role, housekeeping being one of them. BW Hotelier spoke to several housekeeping experts from luxury hotels to know about the role and development in their department.
“The housekeeping department is the backbone of the hotel. The objective of housekeeping in a hotel is to provide a clean, hygienic and well maintained environment for guests. Balancing luxury with a well-maintained aesthetic product along with discreet service is the key,” says Suchitra Gambhir, Executive Housekeeper, The Oberoi Gurugram.
As per Ministry of Tourism, foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India increased 19.5 per cent year-on-year to 630,000 in May 2017.
According to Vaishali P Sinha, Director Housekeeping, I-Professional Housekeepers’ Association (I-PHA), a major part of revenue in hotels come from rooms.
“To achieve the maximum efficiency possible in the care and comfort of the guests and in providing support services for the smooth running of the hotel, housekeeping is an important & integral part of the guest experience and satisfaction,” she said.
“Housekeeping at Andaz is a class apart from other hotel in India. We are creating a work ethos based on true guest satisfaction and doing away with all pomp and show which had become synonym with luxury but did not provide real sense of enjoyment to the guests. Our Guests notice the different approach, uniform and the jovial atmosphere in the housekeeping service and appreciate the small attention to detail by HK team which they find as our Andaz,” said Harinder Kishore, Director of Housekeeping, Andaz Delhi.
Housekeepers at Marriott, focus a lot on guest interaction on floors, anticipating guest need and leaving those personal touches where ever required. According to Monika Yadav, Housekeeping Manager, Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott, Bengaluru, “Marriott recognize outstanding housekeeping teams during International Housekeepers Week. This is an ideal opportunity to showcase housekeeping associates as well as convey genuine gratitude and sincere appreciation for their critical role in making our business successful.”
For Adhish Poddar, Executive Housekeeper, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi, the department has evolved since ages.
“Housekeeping over the ages has primarily been considered a back of the house department, however with the passage of time the thought is changing. Today we have not only become a point of contact for our guests who can be trusted to resolve their queries but also involved in creating connections with our guests. Housekeepers are now more involved into design, décor and financials of the property,” Poddar told us.
Since the housekeeping department is now visible in the front line, different hotels are coming up with new strategy for improvisation. Leela Ambience Gurugram has introduced new Triton Housekeeping which optimises and revolutionizes Housekeeping operation. “We also have started incentive oriented Self-check program where in the cream of the team members are responsible for their own section and floor and they do not require supervision. LDP and SDP programs in coordination with Training department is also one of the factors that my team has taken positively and helped me to give them growth and maximum retention of staff,” said Nitin Tanwar, Executive Housekeeper, Leela Ambience Gurugram.
I-PHA has also designed new initiatives to create a community for the budding housekeepers. “It will be a platform for all the young ones of the fraternity to communicate, share and innovate new ideas, thoughts and programs. The committee will focus upon educating the Hotel Managements students, the right traits of housekeepers and how effectively they are creating a difference overall,” stated Sinha.
In a competitive hotel market, it is service and cleanliness that really makes an impact on our guests and determine whether they will return. “We sell ambience and there will not be a perfect ambience with an efficient and flawless housekeeping,” according to Kishore.
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