Author: Laurie Katinos (Page 2 of 2)

Laurie Katinos is one of the leading hospitality operations directors. Her expertise in housekeeping operations spans over 20 years, with the majority of her time spent with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and The Service Companies. Her knowledge and operations savvy has contributed to The Service Companies becoming the unrivaled provider of cleaning, staffing and managed services in the hospitality industry.

How to wow your guests – housekeeping service tips

turn-key housekeeping

How confident are you that your associates are regularly looking for ways to fulfill requests or resolve problems before guests have time to think about them?

In the hospitality industry, this is the norm if you want to stand out and exceed guests’ expectations.  At The Service Companies, we partner with many properties and brands to improve hotel housekeeping management at our clients’ properties. While service cultures and standards differ across them, all of our clients have a similar desire to wow, delight, and add value and a personalized touch to the customer experience.

As I was inspecting a guest room a while ago, I noticed the guest’s toothpaste was squeezed to the last drop.  I immediately thought about that guest coming back after a long day without toothpaste and having to call and wait for more to be delivered. The natural thing for me to do was place another tube of toothpaste for the guest. This made me think – what seems to be an ordinary task for me, doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

During our corporate mandated daily pre-shift meetings, our housekeeping leaders make this service training a regular practice. It is important to share ideas and best practices with associates so they are confident and empowered to create more memorable moments.

The first step is learning to read cues.

Read Cues

How well do you know your guests? Is your guest a coffee or tea drinker? Do they prefer regular or decaf? Does your VIP guest enjoy red or white wine, diet or regular soda, ales or lagers?

Once your housekeeping associates are aware of what the guest has been using, empower them to place extra items during service. Your guests will definitely take notice and appreciate your attentiveness.

Simple Practices to Improve Hotel Housekeeping Management

A few simple practices our team employs:

  • Having a favorite beverage in a fresh bucket of ice waiting for the guest.
  • Leaving an extra bottle or two of water if the guest is a runner or utilizes the fitness center. Additionally, leaving a note and wishing them a great workout is a nice gesture.
  • Leaving extra tissues and/or tea service if you notice your guest is feeling under the weather or has the sniffles.  A “Get Well” note with the associate’s name offering additional assistance is a thoughtful touch.
  • Leaving them reading material such as a magazine or newspaper many properties stock. Provide this the afternoon or evening before checkout so they can take it along. Wish them a safe trip and hopefully a return visit soon. This is one of my favorites and it is very effective.

One drawback of travel is not having all the conveniences of home during a hectic business trip or jam-packed vacation schedule.  Implementing just one of these extra steps takes some of the planning and thinking off of a guest’s plate and creates more of those memorable experiences that your guest will look forward to coming back to.

Flu Prevention in Hotels, Casinos and Resorts

Cleaning common guest touch points in a bathroom

As we approach each season it is important to train associates on flu prevention steps and continue refreshing the team on these topics throughout the season. While the number of flu cases is highest in the fall and winter, the flu can infect people at any time during the year.

Housekeeping, Public Area, and Stewarding team members especially play a critical role in hotels, casinos and resorts in disease control and prevention, which spreads often by customer and employee contact. These associates can take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs through various cleaning methods, frequency and procedures for high touch points.

Here are a few of the key areas for flu prevention.

  1. Ensure you have the safest and effective chemicals to disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. The Center for Disease Control states:

“Influenza viruses can be destroyed by heat (167-212°F). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodine-based antiseptics and alcohols are effective against influenza viruses if used in proper concentrations for a sufficient length of time.”

Although many of your chemicals are effective to disinfect surfaces, they may not be as safe to apply on all areas. It is important discuss with your chemical provider to better understand application methods for these delicate surfaces.

  1. Be sure your associates are aware of high touch points, the areas touched often, which are included in their assigned areas. Examples include: handles and door locks, light switches, countertops, paper towel dispensers, telephone handset and buttons, elevator control buttons and handrails, casino/ATM machines, drape wand, in-room electronics and more.
  1. Discuss frequency, which varies for each surface. For example, a guest room sink knob may be cleaned once during daily service whereas a public area restroom sink knob will be cleaned multiple times during each shift.
  1. Keep front and back of the house areas well-stocked with an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels and alcohol-based hand rubs.
  1. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. As associates get busy during their day, they may forget the basics, so make sure they are reminded how to maintain proper hygiene, even in places where soap and clean water may not be available.

Although we are well into the season, it is never too late to remind associates the importance of specific cleaning methods and frequency of each task in an effort to keep ourselves and one another healthy.

Stay well.

How to create a successful inspection program

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You may have heard the adage “Expect What You Inspect” at some point during your hospitality career.

An inspection program will provide more detailed feedback to all parties involved with a common goal to continuously improve the service provided to the customer. Whether it is inspecting a casino floor, guest rooms, hotel public areas or corridors, kitchens, vacation ownership grounds, or employee back of house areas, the following practices will assist in implementing a more successful cleaning inspection program.

Quality, Not Quantity

During regular discussions with our team, I always share my #1 rule for achieving your expectations: Quality, not quantity! The quality of our inspection process, along with follow through, is more important than tracking large quantities. It is critical that the inspector provides immediate feedback so associates may avoid further deficiencies. As we go, hopefully the feedback becomes more praise and rewards versus critique.

Keep Score

Don’t forget to keep score! Having a point value or goal for each assigned task allows you to track progress. The manager will have a better understanding of what training is needed for an individual or the entire team.

Consistent Analysis of Inspection Form

Another important factor for a successful cleaning inspection program is keeping your inspection form aligned with current trends. If you find a substandard area or common deficiencies, a manager should react by placing more emphasis in that area. An inspection form is customized for each property reflecting the layout and furnishings of the various rooms, suites, public space, kitchens, etc., though we have an opportunity to increase point values and focus on the “hot” spots. Review your format often. Your inspection form today should not be the exact form used a year ago.

Create Brand Standards and Benchmarks

In order for associates to fully understand the expectations and be compliant of all cleaning standards, they need to have a clear understanding of the brand standards and departmental benchmarks.

Start by providing every associate with a copy of the current inspection checklist during training and review this before they work independently. Associates need to have a clear understanding of their tasks and desired goals. If at any time revisions are made to a cleaning inspection form, be sure to provide a revised copy. A good practice is to post current copies of the inspection form along with room placement photos in a highly visible area within your department for easy reference.

We Are All Inspectors

We are all inspectors and accountable for providing the very best service to our client and customers. It is important that every associate identifies areas that need attention whether it is a cleaning or service issue. We all have a unique eye for detail, so as a team we will see a whole lot more.

Informing Associates for Processes to Address Issues They Cannot Address

All associates should understand the proper channels and resources if they cannot address something on the spot, such as maintenance issues. If something they had reported cannot be handled quickly, keep everyone informed of the projected completion time.

Inspect Everyone

What you don’t inspect someone else will. No matter how seasoned the associate is, everyone needs to be inspected to ensure they are exceeding expectations and reaching desired goals.

Associates are encouraged to frequently inspect their assigned areas with a manager or supervisor so they may share helpful tips with one another.

Listen To Feedback

I’ve inspected thousands of guest rooms during my career and always find opportunities to learn through associates’ and clients’ eyes. Listening to customer feedback and sharing best practices is the best way to move your team ahead and achieve quality and service targets.

In addition to associates being accountable for achieving goals, we as managers are equally accountable for setting associates up for success providing support and coaching along the way.

Once you prepare yourself and team, expect to see positive results!

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