The Service Companies Blog

Service. Above All

Author: The Service Companies (page 1 of 3)

Tips from the Field: Becky Burrows

The team at one of our luxury casino hotels in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has consistently achieved excellent EcoSure scores, which measure the level of cleanliness of our kitchens. Recently their Stewarding Department, led by Executive Steward Becky Burrows, were able to increase their EcoSure score from 95% to an outstanding 97%. Becky plays an integral role in this property’s success, due to her hard work and dedication to her job and her employees. We interviewed Becky to learn more about the secret to her team’s success.

Stewarding

What does an EcoSure inspection entail? What do they look for?

EcoSure looks for the cleanliness of the kitchen as a whole. All dish rooms are inspected to ensure the water is at the right temperature and that the sanitizer is up to standard. The inspectors check that no food or debris is left anywhere, and that all equipment is wiped down and dusted.

How was your team able to achieve such excellent scores?

Our team is well trained in what it takes to keep our kitchens and dish rooms clean, and do this every shift, morning, afternoon and overnight. They clean, dust, sweep and mop everything from top to bottom continuously.  We make sure each associate feels valued and a part of the team, so each shift works together to make sure our cleanliness is excellent.

What is the largest event you and your team have supported?

New Year’s Eve is usually our largest – we have done two seating’s of 800 people apiece. The Stewarding Department helps out the cooks in the kitchen often, especially during events. The team helps to plate the food, which is then run to tables by the serving team. During large events like this, we have employees who volunteer to stay over and help with everything. It’s truly all about the teamwork. Huge events can be fun, because there is a thrill in working together and accomplishing something.

How do you motivate your team?

The team is like a big family. We treat each other as individuals and make sure we’re training and then working with associates one-on-one. They truly care about their jobs and work hard to achieve consistently great scores. We also place importance on employee engagement events, and take time to listen to our employees and make sure they know they are valued. We have lots of team members who are far from home, from places including Haiti, so it’s important that they feel like they have a family here and are comfortable and involved.

Me and Ms Dina (1)When did you join The Service Companies?

I started as a Public Area Attendant in 2010 and then moved up to a Public Area Lead, then a Public Area Supervisor, and then a Public Area Night Manager. In 2013, I was asked to become an Assistant Executive Steward. 

How did you gain your expertise in Stewarding?

I gained experience by doing. When I was promoted to Assistant Executive Steward I barely knew anything about kitchens or the department. But, I was able to rise to the challenge and I was able to learn and train as I went. There was always someone there to ask for help or to answer questions.

What would you recommend to a property that might be struggling to achieve high inspection scores in their Stewarding Department?

First, I would recommend that they check their teamwork. 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift all have to work together to ensure consistency in cleanliness. Standards need to be met all the time, not just before an inspection. I would tell the management team to listen to their associates, to see what they can do to help them achieve what’s needed.

What do you love most about your job, and the company?

I love my staff – without them, I could not do my job. I’m a people person, and I like to be there for my team and have an opportunity to make changes in their lives.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Stepping into the Shoes of a Guest Room Attendant

IMG_3601 2At The Service Companies, we value our associates because we understand they are what make us great. Our Guest Room Attendants across the country work tirelessly each day to deliver on our company’s promise and create the best possible experience for guests. It is important to us that at no matter what level, property or department, our whole team contributes to a strong culture and works toward a common goal. Recently, our Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Matt Sanfilippo, visited one of our luxury casino hotel properties in Laughlin, Nevada, where he spent the day working as a GRA. Read below about his experience and what he learned.

Which property did you visit?

I visited one of our luxury casino hotel properties in Laughlin, Nevada.

What position did you fill in on?

I was a Guest Room Attendant in the Housekeeping Department for the day – I worked with another GRA, Latosha Jackson.

What was your schedule like for the day?

The schedule was intense. We were expecting a very busy day with many early arrivals. The house had to be turned by 4pm to accommodate the influx of new guests. On top of that, there were a large number of VIP guests flying in for a concert at the property that night.

Did you receive training?

I did receive training, but for me it was strictly on the job, bootstrap style. We had a mission to get the house turned. I stripped the rooms and made the beds. Latosha took care of the bathroom and vacuumed.

What were your observations about the culture of the department/property?

I was concerned as I drove down to Laughlin from Las Vegas that the day was going to be intense with the momentous task that had to be completed. However, upon arrival, I was delighted to find that the staff was upbeat and positive about the challenge they had ahead of them. The culture is one of respect for co-workers and leaders. Latosha, the GRA I was working with for the day, loves her job (and does it well). Everyone embraces Project Director Alan Ching, who has done a fantastic job of shifting the work environment at the property.   

I took this opportunity to learn what motivated the employees to come to work each day.  I found that it’s the culture, the way they are treated, and the camaraderie that is shared throughout the team. They appreciate working in an environment where they are respected by their peers and managers, and feeling like they’re a part of something bigger. The associates are truly hospitality people and love giving service to our guests.  

What did you learn or take away from this experience?

The job of a Guest Room Attendant is very difficult.  It’s hard to imagine what cleaning eighteen rooms looks and feels like until you do it. The physical component is demanding. Mattresses are heavy. Linen is sometimes turned inside out. You question why a bed needs four pillows. Why do they need so many sheets? I attempted to leave each room in the condition that I would expect if I were a guest at the property.  

The experience was impactful and humbling because it gave me the opportunity to experience what all those terms I typically hear on conference calls mean. Turning the house means you are not leaving until all rooms are cleaned. A board is your roadmap through the day for your housekeeping experience. A Do Not Disturb sign is a happy sight when you’re close to the finish line. Make friends with a Houseperson, they can be life savers.

I have a ton of respect for our Housekeepers throughout the country. It’s definitely one of the hardest jobs out there!

 

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Emerging Leaders: Shelly Sauseda

Our Emerging Leaders Program was developed to give individuals within our team the opportunity for growth by providing comprehensive management and leadership training. The Service Companies is dedicated to fostering and investing in our associates’ careers, and as a result, we have a number of tenured associates who have risen through the ranks from Kitchen Cleaners or EVS Attendants to Vice Presidents. Today, we highlight Shelly Sauseda, who recently reached her one year anniversary with us as an EVS Attendant at a casino in Bossier City. During Shelly’s first year, her manager noticed great potential and an eagerness to learn more, and urged Shelly to apply to our Emerging Leaders Program. Currently two months into the six month management training program, which includes learning about the housekeeping and stewarding functions and departments, , including rooms cleaning, office dispatch, room inspections, floor care, kitchens, human resources and project management. We interviewed Shelly about her experience so far.

Shelly Rooms TrainingWhen did you join The Service Companies?

I started at The Service Companies in March 2017 as a Restroom Attendant at a casino property in Bossier City, Louisiana.

How did you learn about our Emerging Leaders Program and what do you hope to take away from it?

I found out about the Program from Dekindra Thomas, the Project Manager at the property where I first started. I want to develop better leadership skills and to be an example so other employees can follow in my steps.

The Emerging Leaders Program involves six months of training. How is your training schedule broken down and where are you currently in your training?

I spend time at different properties learning the ins and outs of each department. I completed my final week  at a casino property in Bossier City, where I learned how to run an efficient and successful housekeeping department. Next I’ll move on to learn about floor care and kitchen cleaning at another casino in the area.

Shelly Dispatch

Can you describe what your typical day-to-day looked like during the housekeeping training portion of the program?

At first, I was cleaning rooms while learning room procedures and how to make beds. After I mastered those tasks, I was placed on dispatch for two weeks to learn about that housekeeping function. Next, I spent one to two weeks learning how to inspect rooms. I was also trained on the responsibilities of a house attendant.

What has been the biggest lesson or thing you’ve learned through the Program?

How to run dispatch was the biggest task I mastered. It requires strong multitasking skills. A Dispatcher has to take phone calls and radio messages while simultaneously managing the computer.  

What has been the most rewarding accomplishment for you since you started the Program?

Being given the opportunity to move forward in my career already feels like an accomplishment. I also feel like I’ve learned a lot about each department’s job functions, including how to be a Dispatcher and the room cleaning inspection process. 

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As you transition to the next stage of your training, what are you looking forward to learning or doing?

I’m really excited to learn how to detail kitchens and polish and wax the floors. My training at the next property will include kitchen deep cleaning, floor care, marble care and stewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the Emerging Leaders Program?

Be strong. Never give up. Push yourself to accomplish the new tasks that come with your position. It’s not always easy, but the outcome will be worth it.

To learn more about our associate programs and career opportunities, visit http://www.theservicecompanies.com/careers/why/.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Leaders in Service: Stephanie Leger

Our next Leaders in Service series feature is Stephanie Leger, Corporate Compliance Auditor and support for our hotel, casino and resort properties across the country.  Prior to joining our team, Stephanie held a number of roles with The Ritz-Carlton brand, including Housekeeping Manager, Front Desk Supervisor, and Group Sales Coordinator, and was a Service Evaluator for Forbes Travel Guide, during which time she was trained and certified in over 550 hotel standards and identified service strengths and opportunities for improvement. We have interviewed Stephanie about her time at The Service Companies, her unique background in inspections and auditing, and what it takes to succeed and grow within our company. Currently, she is providing operational support and expertise to one of The Service Companies’ luxury hotels in South Beach, Miami.

StephanieLeger_1794What roles have you held while with The Service Companies? How long have you been with us? I’ve been with The Service Companies for two years, during which I’ve lead the team in account openings, helped with the expansion of accounts and evaluated how our accounts align with our company and brand standards. At the property I’m with right now in Miami, we’re running about 45 room attendants each day, and I’ve been training new associates every day.

What has kept you on our team, and what do you like most about this company? It’s exciting to be part of a growing company that isn’t just growing in one location, but across the country – over 30 states and counting! We’re also expanding into different calibers of hotels, and I like assisting in creating our company standards as we grow.

What does your job entail? I have a variety of job duties. I travel to our new accounts and assist in setting up the housekeeping department and training newly hired team members. Or, I visit existing accounts and audit the housekeeping department by testing associates’ knowledge and spot checking cleanliness in their rooms.

What do you think makes an Executive Housekeeper successful? Having skills in time management, teamwork and flexibility are important for success.

What do you think is the most important part of your role? Checking in on our current accounts and making sure they performing up to our standards, and if they’re not, assisting them to get them where they need to be.

What would you recommend to someone looking to become an Executive Housekeeper? Learn all the duties of each position of your team. Then as a leader, you’ll be able to understand how each position relies on each other to meet the needs of the guest.

What do you love most about your position? I love visiting our various properties and working with the team to take them to the next level.

How do you stay motivated, and how do you motivate your team? To keep myself motivated, I stay positive. My nickname is giggles; I’m always laughing and in a good mood. Housekeeping can be very challenging, but I use my positive outlook to motivate the team. Also, I work side by side with the team to get the task at hand done.  

Outside of work, how do you spend your time? What are you passionate about and what do you enjoy doing? I enjoy traveling to destinations I’ve never been before and touring the area. When not on the road for work I like to travel to tropical locations and enjoy the outdoors, hiking and fishing.

 

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people are what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All.

No matter what level, property or department, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Leaders in Service: Barbara Johnson

 

Our next feature of the Leaders in Service series is Barbara Johnson, Stewarding Supervisor at one of our casino properties in Shreveport, Louisiana. Barbara has been with the Service Companies for over 10 years, and has shown endless dedication and remarkable leadership.

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How long have you been with The Service Companies?

I’ve been with the company for 11 years, working at two properties in the Shreveport area since I was first hired.

What role(s) have you had here and what is your current position?

I started as an EVS Attendant and was promoted to Supervisor. My background includes working on EVS and Stewarding teams and I work closely with The Service Companies’ customer’s Food & Beverage team here in Shreveport.  

What does your job entail?

My job entails making sure my team is able to do their job, from roll call and pre-shift meetings at the beginning of the shift to making sure my team members are where they need to be and has what they need. I provide my team with everything they need to succeed each day.

How do you stay motivated or how do you motivate your team members/coworkers?

I make sure my team knows that the most important part of their job is about respect for themselves, their team and their guests, and I respect them. I motivate them by making sure they have what they need to do well, and also recognize associates with giveaways and announcements to let them know they are appreciated. This past holiday season, we all pitched in for a Christmas celebration, and I made sure everyone felt included and ate well.

What do you like most about your current role?

I love my team and being around people. I enjoy communicating with them about their jobs and training, making sure they have everything they need to succeed.

You have been with The Service Companies for over 10 years. What has kept you on our team and what do you like most about the company?

I love doing my job and I like my bosses. I enjoy the environment of The Service Companies and being a part of the team.

We are thrilled to have such a tenured member on our team. Through the years, we imagine you have experienced and learned a great deal. Is there any advice you’d give to a team member who has joined The Service Companies?

I would tell them to have a positive attitude, by happy and cheerful, and get comfortable with their job.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not working?

I like spending time with my friends and family, and being there for them when I’m needed.

At The Service Companies, we understand that our people are what makes our company great and enables us to provide our customers Service. Above All.

No matter what level, property or department, you will find exceptional associates who live and breathe our brand and have helped create a strong corporate culture. In the spirit of honoring the people and leaders within our company, we feature and interview our outstanding associates in our series, Leaders in Service.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Building healthy relationships with clients

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By Chip Parmelee

In this current business climate, establishing a healthy relationship with your potential and current customer is paramount since we do business with those we trust.

Creating and fostering relationships with customers takes time and excellent customer service. Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years with a number of luxury brands like Marriott International and currently overseeing AAA Four and Five Diamond properties in Southern Florida for The Service Companies, I have developed tips and recommendations on how to go about building these healthy relationships.

  • Know the position/responsibilities of your main contact. Having a thorough understanding of their needs ensures you are providing them what they need to succeed.
  • Learn what you might have in common that both of you can speak to and relate to.
  • Seek to establish a business friendship. Find out what interests them. Reference those interests in conversation, when it makes sense. Does your customer like the local baseball team? Engage them in conversation about a thrilling game or news.
  • If a mistake is made, always professionally apologize for the inconvenience. Take responsibility and assure your customers you will do research to prevent the issue from occurring in the future. For any promises or assurances you make, ensure you follow up.
  • Be genuine. If you are unsure of something, ask questions to clarify your uncertainty and to be sure you and the client are on the same page
  • Insist on inspections. They are healthy for both a vendor and a client. They allow you to identify potential issue before they become larger problem.
  • Get to know all department leaders of those areas your teams service or work closely with. At The Service Companies, one of the teams we work closely with at each property is Maintenance or Engineering. It is important to be known among these departmental leaders. Ask your client to facilitate introductions if there are leaders he or she believes it is important you meet and get to know.
  • Always express your appreciation to the client for giving you their time when visiting or following a meeting.
  • Learn their business. Various departments have distinct business outlooks. Understanding how their department functions will enable you to tailor your service to best fit their needs.
  • Acknowledge your customers by sending greeting cards. It’s a nice gesture for these to include as many as your team members’ signatures as possible along with your business card. Some ideas for when to send a card are:
    • Congratulatory card for a promotion, the birth of a child, or to acknowledge your client’s accomplishments
    • Thanksgiving is the perfect time to thank your client for their business
    • Birthdays
    • New Year

While these tips contribute to building a strong customer relationship, the most important one to remember is email and text are always needed; however, nothing replaces the personal visit or phone call. The more you are able to have a conversation, whether on the phone or in person, the better your relationship will be.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Investing in the careers of our associates

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Occasionally, we are asked “What differentiates The Service Companies from a staffing vendor?” There are many differentiating factors, which we’ve touched on previously on the blog. One very important one is our investment in our associates and their careers.

We invest in each of our team members and their careers. Each associate, no matter their position, has a trajectory of advancement available to them. When possible, we fill open positions with our internal candidates. 250 internal promotions were given in 2017, a number we look to increase as our company grows.

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victor-vargasWe have a number of tenured associates who have risen through our ranks from Kitchen Cleaners or EVS Attendants to Vice Presidents. Victor Vargas, Vice President of Operations – Central Region, joined The Service Companies as Third Shift Kitchen Cleaner in 2002. Within two months, he was promoted to Supervisor, then joined our casino opening team in Lake Tahoe. Shortly thereafter, he became a Project Manager, City Manager and Director of Operations, until being promoted once again to Vice President of Operations – Central Region in 2009.

In addition to the numerous opportunities available within our departmental offices across the country, we also offer career development through our Developing Future Leaders Program. Our Management Training Program, Internship Program and Veteran Management Training Program, all introduce new associates to the tools needed to succeed at The Service Companies and the hospitality Industry. Our Emerging Leaders Program selects high performing individuals within our team and fosters their growth by providing management and leadership training. We also offer scholarship programs for our team members and their children who are enrolled in college or university courses.

For more information about our culture of investing in our associates, visit our website: http://theservicecompanies.com/careers/why/

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

What the recent NLRB ruling reversal means for the hospitality industry

With the recent reversal on its 2015 ruling in the Browning-Ferris Industries case, the National Relations Board has given welcome news to hotel owners and executive team: companies are no longer responsible for associates they do not have direct control over. While the ruling provides a clearer guide for what hoteliers are liable for, the hotel industry, which is heavily reliant on staffing vendors and subcontractors in many circumstances, is not in the clear from joint-employment liability.

 

The Political Environment

This reversal has shown how quickly policy can change; and with the ever-changing state of the political environment, it is not out of the question that the Browning-Ferris Industries may be reversed to its 2015 ruling. In fact, Republican Chairman Philip Miscimarra, member of the NLRB, left the board on December 16, and the opening of his seat has the potential to shift the makeup of the board. This potential is slim as the board seat will be confirmed by the Senate, of which the Republican party holds a majority. However, this plus the two additional board seats that will be opening within the next two years should be a cause for concern for the hospitality industry. With such a quickly changing political environment, hoteliers should approach joint employment as if the 2015 ruling of Browning-Ferris Industries was still in place. Not only is it the only way to fully prevent hoteliers and their ownership groups from being held liable for joint employment violations, but creates peace of mind and less work should the NLRB reinstate the Browning-Ferris Industries ruling again.

 

Vendor Contracts

Bryan Wroten, in his article titled “Joint-employer reversal: What hoteliers should know,” addressed legal concerns following the reversal and the importance that hoteliers review the contracts with their subcontractors or staffing providers. Referencing and quoting Dana Kravetz, managing partner at Michelman & Robinson, Wroten writes “It’s likely many hoteliers didn’t take a strong look at their contracts to make sure they only included components to protect them from joint-employer status, such as checking that the contract only maintains franchise standards rather than exerting control.”

 

While this reversal benefits hoteliers, it is important to remain vigilant on potential joint employment issues within a property. Continue to ask your vendors these important questions to fully protect yourself, your management company and ownership group, and review your vendor contracts with your legal team. For guaranteed protection, consider The Service Companies, the only provider of staffing, cleaning and managed services to the hospitality industry that protects a property and ownership from any potential joint employment challenges. We provide a full benefits package and training to our associates, document ID and social security numbers and require all associates to have I-9, W-4, criminal background checks, drug screens and E-Verification validations.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

What to consider when hiring newly displaced workers from Puerto Rico

As a result of Hurricane Maria, the United States, particularly Florida, has seen a large influx of Puerto Rican refugees looking for work. This could be great news for the hospitality industry which, with the unemployment rate reported at 4.1% in October and November and the difficulty securing workers through the H2B visa program, has struggled to find labor to fill housekeeping, public area cleaning and stewarding positions.What should the executive teams of hotels and casinos with understaffed departments be taking into consideration as they look to hire from this group of over 200,000 individuals?

First, hiring from this pool of workers is costly. Hotels and casinos must be aware that they will be incurring costs from the recruitment and onboarding processes as well as ongoing fees associated with insurance. Recruitment costs will include background checks, drug tests and e-verification in addition to travel costs to attend job fairs, and relocation and lodging fees for the new hires.

Once hired, these new associates go through the onboarding and training process. While this varies from property to property, at The Service Companies, each of our associates completes a 30-day training program for any of our fully managed services including housekeeping, EVS and Stewarding. The costs that result from training can be high. In 2016, in conjunction with Navigate Corporation, a premier management consulting firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Service Companies took a deep dive to understand the drivers of associate retention and engagement. During this study, we saw that onboarding a new associate could cost thousands of dollars. Depending on how short staffed a hotel or casino is, just the onboarding costs could quickly and easily surpass $10,000 with only a few new hires. On top of this, add the costs for medical and dental benefits, general liability and workers compensation insurance, which will continue throughout the associate’s tenure at the property.

It takes a well-capitalized company or property to be able to successfully recruit this new influx of workers. Located across the country, The Service Companies, the one-stop-shop for managed, staffing and specialty services to the hospitality and gaming industry, is one of the few with the capital and experience (over 30 years) to take on this responsibility. With our turn-key housekeeping, public area/EVS cleaning and stewarding model, we assume full accountability of a hotel or casino’s most challenging departments, handling recruiting, background, drug and e-verification checks, training and insurance. No other company has the same resources, experience or nationwide presence. To learn more, visit www.theservicecompanies.com.

The Service Companies is the unrivaled nationwide provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services to the hospitality industry, particularly luxury hotels, casinos and vacation ownership resorts. With nearly 30 years of experience, The Service Companies approaches their work with dedication, professionalism and a keen attention to detail that leads to best-in-class results.

Distributing Soap in Guadalajara with Clean The World & Caesars Entertainment

Social responsibility is important to us and we drive corporate social responsibility among our clients. In early November, we partnered with Caesars Entertainment and Clean The World for the fifth consecutive year to send two members of our housekeeping teams on a service trip to distribute recycled soap and hygiene kits to underserved youth and communities. This year, Cynthia Isrow (EVS Supervisor in Laughlin) and Yerky Santana (Housekeeping Supervisor at a casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip) were selected to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico with Clean The World and Caesars Entertainment’s winners.

Their trip began in Las Vegas, where the group received a tour of Clean The World’s Recycling Operations Center, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, to learn how Clean The World takes, sanitizes and repackages partially used soaps and hotel amenities collected by our associates. In Guadalajara, through Children International, Cynthia, Yerky and the trip participants spent three days distributing soap to impoverished families and taught them how to properly wash their hands to prevent disease.

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Now that they have returned from their trip, we took some time to speak with Cynthia and Yerky about the trip and how it affected them. Read our interview and view the photos from the trip below.

What was your reaction to hearing you were selected to go on the soap distribution trip to Guadalajara?

Cynthia: At first, I was a bit uneasy about traveling to Mexico. But I was very excited to have the opportunity to go.

Yerky: I was excited to go. I lived in Guadalajara for a time, so I know about the city and the living conditions in which many of the people live. I knew that by going with this group, I would be able to make a big impact. 

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What were your expectations of the trip when you were selected? How were they the same as or different than what you experienced?

Cynthia: I expected that we were just there to hand out soap, but it turned out to be so much more than that. We spent time with the families and children we were helping along with Children International. It was a very rewarding experience.

Yerky: The trip ended up being more impactful than I expected it to be. For me, I left Guadalajara thinking more about how other people live and the opportunities available to them. Before, I was more concerned about my life; now not so much.

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What advice or information can you give our associates participating in the Clean The World initiative on property?

Cynthia: Keep doing it. Collecting the soap is so important. To us, it might just be soap, but to others, it’s life. I am vocal about how important this is on property.

Yerky: People may not think about how much they can help others by collecting the partially used soaps left behind by guests. On the trip, I saw that one bar of soap has a big impact on these communities. One bar of soap for us is not a big deal, but for the people in Guadalajara, it’s life changing. I would encourage everyone to collect as much soap as possible.

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It is amazing to hear that one bar of soap, which may be something we take for granted, has such a significant affect on a family or community. Has this trip impacted you in any way?

Cynthia: It has impacted me in so many ways. Other than wanting to be more involved with my team, I am looking at sponsoring a child in Guadalajara through Children International. Hopefully by January, it will be all set up. When I was in Guadalajara, I saw how the programs Children International provides these families are so effective and I want to give one child the opportunity to have his or her education, medical bills and more covered. I left Mexico believing that one person can change one life.

Yerky: When we’re cleaning guest rooms, we don’t think about how the soap or toilet paper we collect is important. I left driven to do more to help people less fortunate. I’m just one person, and even though I can make a difference, this trip made me realize the great potential people with resources have to combat poverty in the world. I made a promise to myself to contribute more, but more people have to get involved.

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What was the most memorable part of the trip?

Cynthia: There was a mother that we met that I will never forget. When we were teaching the kids how to properly wash their hands, each would receive a gold star sticker. She also really wanted to learn and she was so excited to get a gold sticker. She was so thankful and grateful to receive the sticker, which is burned in my mind. This trip put my life into perspective and was a mind opening experience. The people we were helping work from 5am to 11pm each day and only make $150 per month. They make the most out of what they have, which is an important lesson for us all.

Yerky: For me, there were two very memorable parts to the trip. The first was when we visited a family at home. We showed everyone, from the children to the grandmother, how to wash their hands. Visiting them reminded me that my family and I used to live like this in Cuba. I understood how hard they work just to buy some bread and milk. It put my life into perspective. The second memorable experience for me was the visit to the Clean The World Recycling Factory in Las Vegas, where we saw how the soaps we collect are sanitized and repackaged into new soap.

5Are there any other memorable moments from the trip you’d like to share?

Cynthia: There was a moment with Yerky interacting with a child during a home visit that I think was memorable for all of us. Yerky asked the boy how many times he could jump on one foot in a minute. The boy responded with 50 times. Yerky stopped the boy after 30 seconds of jumping and told him that he jumped 78 times in half the time. Yerky told the boy to never underestimate himself and to always realize what he is capable of. Yerky shared that he was poor, just like the boy, growing up in Cuba and being told the limits to what he could do in life. Yerky continued that now he lives in the United Sates working on the Las Vegas strip, has traveled to 48 countries and accomplishing what he sets his heart to.

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What an incredible story. Cynthia, how has your team in Laughlin been so successful in collecting unused amenities that are donated to Clean The World?

Cynthia: Through constant encouragement. I think now that I can share my experience with them, they will begin to realize the value of what we do and we will be even more successful.

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Both of you have mentioned that now that you’ve returned, you want to do more. Can you elaborate on that?

Cynthia: I’ve already started looking at hosting community hygiene kit builds and getting more involved with Clean The World here in Nevada.

Yerky: I’d like to start volunteering, even if it’s just one day a week. I know I can make a difference, no matter how small the task.

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