Efficiency in Housekeeping via Process Improvement Techniques

By Amy Bair Career Services Analyst, Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management | June 09, 2013

In a 2006 PKF slideshow, labor consisted of 61.7% of the rooms department expense. Laundry, linen and guest supplies take up an additional 10%.(1) As you know, controlling these costs is under constant scrutiny. PKF says it best when they state "Profitability is driven by revenue management and expense control."(2) However, there is an overarching concern that the effort to reduce overhead will also reduce output quality thus making your guests unhappy.

You may get a review that looks like this "Found several water and beer containers under the bed and obviously the floor and baseboards had not been swept in a long time. While examining linens for spiders found several stains on sheets…"(3)

With a focus on never having a review like the one above show up on your TipAdvisor profile but still make efforts toward reducing costs, I propose some innovative and creative thinking. This is where the concept of process improvement becomes invaluable.

On my website, I discuss a HBR case study featuring Continental Airlines. In 1993, they were ranked 10th out of ten "in all key customer service areas" by the Department of Transportation. Greg Brenneman, then COO for Continental, knew that saving Continental required going back to the basics: "Fly to places, people wanted to go, when they wanted to go, in clean attractive airplanes; get them there on time with their bags…"(4) (I am especially amused by the last goal.)

What did Greg do to revive the airline? Process improvement, of course! Among other projects, he eliminated the 18% of flights that were losing money, reduced the "fleet types from 13 to 4" and established a "consistent and reliable flight schedule." Addressing these and all other processes that were causing Continental to fail shifted their net income from -$613 million in 1994 to $385 million in 1997.(4)

Another HBR case titled "Carnival Cruise Lines" discussed the company's desire to better manage its customer relationships. One of the challenges faced and addressed was that Carnival didn't have access to all of its customer's data. In 2001, a third-party company that had control of several million client records went bankrupt. Although it was able to purchase those records, Carnival vowed it would "never lose control of its customer database again." After a year of cleansing the data, they had 10 million records available to learn more about their customers' desires and needs.(5)

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.