Providing a personal touch
20 September 2013
Writing an article about the value of housekeeping for our October/November magazine issue – in the light of new research which found cleanliness to be the number one concern for hotel customers – got me thinking about the familiar cleaning industry story of an under-valued workforce.
The white paper from service provider Emprise found cleanliness to be the top deal breaker for hotel guests with one poor online review losing a hotel around 30 customers, equating to £2,500 per bad review for the average hotelier.
In other words cleanliness can have a phenomenal impact on a business's bottom line. Despite this, cleaning operatives are rarely treated with the respect that should come with such responsibility.
While a cleaner's work – whether they attain an acceptable standard of cleanliness – can make a big difference to guest retention according to the report, many hotels also fail to recognise that housekeeping staff can enhance the guest experience, on a subtler level.
Housekeeping staff are corporate ambassadors for the hotel, often encountering the public – contrary to the popular perception of an invisible workforce.
On my summer holiday to Sorrento, Italy, I saw our housekeeper just as often as the reception and restaurant staff. Greeting each other in halls became part of my daily routine for two weeks – an important interaction considering that the rest of my day consisted of very little except eating, drinking and sunbathing!
Housekeeping is also a very personal service. When you stay in a hotel you give a complete stranger access to your private belongings, and so making housekeepers more accessible and personable to customers seems fitting.
The hotel I stayed in did understand the role housekeeping staff play in enhancing the guest experience as on entering our room for the first time, my husband and I were greeted by a card on the table containing a welcome message from our housekeeper Philomena and her picture.
Over three months later I can still remember her name, thanks to small personal touches – the warm welcome message, the friendly 'hellos', the folding of our bath towels into hearts, other guests complimenting her by name. After all, when a business treats its staff as valuable members of a team, the guests are more likely to value them too, which benefits everyone.