Room Inspections: What is the Role of the General Manager?

By Michael Haynie, SR. President, Parkway Hospitality Management | February 12, 2012

The housekeeping department in reality is what keeps everyone in the hotel employed, especially a general manager. The relevancy of a clean guest room or hotel building is paramount to the success of the business. It is incumbent on the general manager to ensure his building is meeting his or her standards. The biggest fear a general manager has is being featured in an undercover story on the cleanliness of their bathrooms, or their bedding, or any part of their building. As a general manager, who served as an executive housekeeper for over eight years, I realize the importance of my participation in this process.

This is not some "big" pomp and circumstance inspection but a very methodical process of showing support for the executive housekeeper, as it is not easy motiving a staff of room attendants and house persons in the process of cleanliness on a daily basis. The inspection process starts for me at the hiring phase of the staff. This is where I, as a general manager, emphasize that this is a team effort and not just an individual job. There are certain tools you need to make this an effective exercise: proper pay for the housekeeping staff, well kept uniforms and support of good nutritional habits. There is no need in inspecting anything if the proper foundation has not been laid to ensure success.


Cleanliness is the most important criteria in the hotel from the guest perspective; the importance of the job has to be indicated by proper compensation. It is very difficult to recruit the best housekeeping staff if your pay scales are not on par with the competition (this includes health insurance and other forms of compensation). It is important that regular wage and benefits comparisons be done. I usually will not take on a general manager position prior to doing my homework and investigating the pay scale of the employed staff. Having a happy, well paid staff is going to be critical to my success as a general manager particularly in the housekeeping department. A smart ownership team has usually anticipated this.


Having the proper uniforms is also an important part of a well functioning housekeeping department. Many room attendants like fluidy of movement. Uniforms that are too tight or do not allow for proper movement in bending or reaching restrict their ability to properly carry out the demands of their job. In addition the staff will feel much better when they look good. I always allow the housekeeping staff to participate in the selection of uniforms. They are going to wear them so they should have a say in the choices available to them. We make this fun by having staff member model the choices; it is usually fun and a "feel good" session which the employees take very seriously. Once we choose uniforms, having correct fittings and supplies are important. Don't think one uniform or even two, is enough for employees. You want to have a clean professional appearance on a daily basis. In addition have a system in place for the cleaning of the uniforms, as this could become problematic. Success is all in the details. If management shows the housekeeping staff what they are willing to go through to attain success the staff will begin to understand management's expectations and the level of standards they will be held to.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.