The use of intelligent housekeeping software is transforming the housekeeping department in many ways. Donald Gasper takes a look.

Technology has finally found housekeeping! It is a small wonder why it took so long, given the high cost of keeping the property clean and the impact on guest satisfaction. And yet, more than nine out of every 10 hotels still depend upon clip boards and message-running supervisors to deliver rooms to waiting guests.

There is a reason for this, according to John Richards, senior vice president for business development at Optii Solutions Inc. While superficially quite simple (“just clean the rooms”—“can you do it faster?” – “I need to reduce your budget”), housekeeping is hard and heavy work, and involves a great deal of complexity in a dynamic environment, he says.

So what can technology do for us? First and foremost, Richards says, it can improve communications so the changing requirements of the house can be delivered directly to the operative – in this case the room attendant.

Better communication

The latest software is leading to better communication between the front desk and housekeeping, says operations consultant Durk Johnson, a Certified Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professional (CVRHP) who is executive vice president of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals. He explains that the housekeepers receive notifications through a digital device about who has departed and so do not have to waste time knocking on doors to see who has left.

Changes in room requests, time of arrival and rush room requirements are immediately communicated, eliminating the chain of front desk to coordinator to supervisor to room attendant – and back again! It ensures optimal distribution of housekeeping resources guest by guest,

In today’s environment, each urgent situation is handled by four or more parties, most of which are “useless interpositions”, Richards says. “The solution makes the problem worse! You could eliminate 80 per cent of phone calls from the front desk with the right technology.”

Without going into exhaustive detail, he invites us to imagine how technology can change all this:

  • The front desk knows the status of every room in the house and can assign check-out rooms about to be completed;
  • The supervisors know where every team member is at all times, who is struggling, who malingering and who is an outstanding worker;
  • A complete, optimised schedule for all room attendants created in the morning in three minutes and requiring only a few minutes to fine tune;
  • Rooms turned 60 to 90 minutes earlier and quality scores for every room attendant and supervisor.

Best-in-class housekeeping software

Optii Keeper is an example of an optimal housekeeping management app created by industry insiders who understand the unique challenges in the housekeeping department. It shines a spotlight on wasted labour, helping reduce costs and boost productivity, replacing inefficient clipboards and phone and radio communications with an intelligent software platform. This provides superior labour management capabilities optimise room attendants’ path of travel. Predictive clean time technology helps ensure optimal distribution of housekeeping resources.

Smart schedules automatically adjust, guest-by-guest, room-by-room and minute-by-minute. Optimised dashboards give managers visibility to quickly detect and correct inefficiencies. While best-in-class data analytics help drive positive financial and cleanliness results.

Optii can ensure ROI of up to 500 per cent within just months of implementation, it is claimed: The labour costs of housekeeping can be reduced by up to 18 per cent and productivity increased by up to 24 per cent, nearly eliminating front desk queues and significantly improving online guest reviews.

Many hotels are finding this technology a transformation, not only for housekeeping but for front office as well. And the payback is less than 12 months, making it literally free!

Johnson says technology like this also means better forecasting – with the cleaning times being loaded into the software, running labour forecasts becomes the click of a button. This allows the manager to know instantly how the big weekend is looking.

Accountability is also advanced: The software can track the start and stop time for each clean and the this time can be compared against a standard set for the room. This can then be displayed on a personal dashboard so the housekeeper can make adjustments and improvement throughout the day.

Maintenance requests can be made more quickly – the digital device allows the housekeeper to take a picture, upload it to a work order and immediately submit the repair to engineering.

Digital training is enabled: If housekeepers come across an issue they do not know how to handle they look it up in the company Wiki or they can receive a video or document when they log in for the day.

Moreover, the software can display the information in the housekeeper’s native language. This is especially helpful if housekeepers are is not very proficient in the language of the country they are working in.

Johnson recommends the following housekeeping software: Breezeway, VR Scheduler, EZ Inspections, Properly, Resort Cleaning, BeHome 24/7.