If there was a silver lining to the current pandemic, I think it would be that it has given the industry and all of us personally, the time to reflect and think about what we can do better and more effectively. Our team at Knowcross has been trying to leverage this reflection period by inviting hoteliers and industry experts from across the globe to participate in our leadership webinar series. The third edition of this series just took place and this time, we discussed the evolution that is occurring in hotel operations in the Asia Pacific region, specifically around the topic of housekeeping.
I speak to many hoteliers across this region and I have been watching the recovery across the industry, which I am truly, so happy to see. The reflection on current processes and the evolution of them that is taking place is remarkable. Hoteliers, especially those in Operations, are being pushed to evaluate how to do things in a very different light. An obvious emphasis has been on cleanliness and safety - what many are calling the new ”badge” of service & loyalty. There has also been a focus on ensuring the bottom line is as profitable as possible based on reduced occupancies globally and of course the ever-growing interest on increased efficiencies and even the possibility of evaluating new revenue streams; working from a hotel room, leveraging F&B further.
Our panellists from across Asia Pacific; Australia & New Zealand, Thailand, and Singapore spoke in great detail about the evolution from both the hotelier perspective and also, interestingly enough, the outsourced labour perspective (ahs Hospitality) who provide housekeeping services and cleans over 10 million rooms annually.
A few common threads and questions emerged from the session which I am outlining here. I am also including my lessons learned under each point.
During my discussions with hoteliers across the world, there has been a common consensus about the change in processes to cope with the new normal, which was also resonated by our panellists.
Kylie had some interesting inputs; she has seen changes in two major processes. Firstly, internal processes where ahs have engaged an infectious disease expert to work on processes to make sure they are COVID safe. Secondly, realigning themselves with processes implemented by hotels and training staff on new protocols and equipment like electrostatic sprays, etc.
James added, they took learnings from 400 hotels Marriott has in China which were hit earlier than the rest of the world and implemented findings from these learnings into the rest of 7,500 hotels across the world. COVID has fast-tracked some of the initiatives that Marriott was already undertaking like the removal of in-room compendiums and the push of contactless service through the Bonvoy app.
One of the questions that was common amongst attendees is: “keeping in mind the high risk of contamination for housekeeping staff, how should a hotel keep them motivated and improve their morale?”.
Kenneth affirmed that this has been a challenge that hotels are facing with fears creeping in amongst staff for their safety and jobs. The key to managing these fears is communication to keep the line staff involved and motivated. Especially between middle managers and the staff. He added that hotels can follow a top-down approach where the information and assurance can follow from the top to middle managers and finally to the line staff
How do you best leverage a service optimization system or other solution (including Knowcross) for health declaration? How about for contactless experiences?
Whilst I represent a service optimization company, I do strongly believe that with new and stringent protocols being introduced every day, the right time for investing in this technology and the value proposition it brings, is now. These technology systems are required in order to help hotels implement and follow these new protocols effectively.
Safe and New Cleaning Techniques
With the high usage of disinfectants and sanitizers during the cleaning process comes a concern for the use of harmful chemicals in cleaning and how a hotel can make sure that they are safe to use.
A hotel can keep in mind two points while procuring and using the chemicals. Firstly, they follow all protocols and certifications set by the government. Secondly and most importantly, is to train your staff and build a proper understanding of all processes and procedures that need to followed during cleaning.
The heightened cleanliness protocols and the ripple down effect to standardization, staffing considerations, and operational considerations are so interesting to me as we are all learning and trying to best evaluate which measures are here to stay and which we will outgrow (hopefully) at some point
As we move globally into the next phase of our recovery and we all continue to move from reflection to action, I hope some of the learnings that have emerged from this unique period can be harnessed for a better recovery and new, better normal.