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

Durk Johnson, an operations consultant who is also executive vice president of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals, outlines the ways in which using intelligent housekeeping software is transforming the housekeeping department:

Better communication between the front desk and housekeeping: Through a digital device the housekeepers receive notifications about who has departed and do not have to waste time knocking on doors to see who has left.

Better forecasting: With the cleaning times loaded into the software, running labour forecasts becomes the click of a button. This allows the manager to know instantly how the the big weekend is looking.

Accountability: The software can track the start and stop time for each clean and 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 through out the day. 

Faster maintenance requests: The digital device allows the housekeeper to take a picture, upload it to a work order, and immediately submit the repair to the engineering team.

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

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

John Richards, senior vice president for business development at Optii Solutions Inc, says that with the latest software it is possible to communicate immediately to housekeepers changes in room requests, time of arrival and rush room requirements, eliminating the chain of front desk to coordinator to supervisor to room attendant – and back again! In today’s environment, he says, each urgent situation is handled by four or more parties, most of which are “useless interpositions.” “The solution makes the problem worse! You could eliminate 80% of phone calls from the front desk with the right technology.”

Soenke Weiss, founder and executive director of Optii Solutions, says that the housekeeping team manages the logistically most demanding department in a hotel. Housekeeping software systems have proven that they are well equipped to face the challenges. “The more sophisticated ones optimise operations and address productivity and cost at the same time. While the improvement of the guest experience and effective labour management have previously been regarded as largely mutually exclusive, a leading system like the Optii Keeper has proven that it is capable of effectively managing the trade-off. Optii Keeper has proven time and again that turnaround times can be shortened and guest feedback scores improved, while providing substantial savings on the bottom-line at the same time.”

Housekeeping on the go

FCS Computer Systems is another supplier. Its e-Housekeeping solution ensures the seamless and real-time transmission of communication and data to hotel staff. Equipped with such functionality, he says, hoteliers can ensure that housekeeping staff are always where they need to be, and that no task gets overlooked.

With the FCS Housekeeping mobile app, its companion iOS and Android compatible app, hotel staff can access the full capabilities of FCS Housekeeping wherever they may be. Housekeeping teams can update the status of cleaning and inspection assignments instantly, as well as carry out other daily duties with just a touch of their fingertip.

FCS Connect is a bilingual automated job dispatch system for guest requests and inter-department work orders. FCS Connect functions via a centralised call centre that enables hotels to achieve efficiency and consistency in guest service levels at minimal cost. It improves internal operational flow by streamlining all guest and internal requests across different departments. Additionally, FCS Connect provides hotel management with clear and detailed real time statistics to identify areas of improvement across all hotel operations.

With FCS Connect, hoteliers can always ensure that each task and request is instantly handled by the most qualified property representative. Able to direct and manage resources accordingly, FCS Connect can also guarantee that expenses are handled with efficiency while assuring guests of their ability to enjoy all hotel services, regardless of when they book their stay.

“With FCS Connect, guest requests are now quickly communicated to the housekeeping staff and the information gets to the right person,” says Ashoka Gunarathna, Director of Housekeeping at Rotana Hotels and Resorts. “We are also able to analyse the guests’ requests over a week/month/quarter to find out the most frequent requests and the response time. FCS Connect is an easy system to adapt to, and was well planned and executed by the team. It simplifies the workflow for all members of the housekeeping team.”