Productivity - a Euphemism that Costs Hotels

Are you leveraging productivity beyond its cliched definition?

By S. Lakshmi Narasimhan Founder, Ignite Insight LLC | November 25, 2018

Among the various cliched terms that are bandied around in business circles, nothing is more of a euphemism than the term productivity. Everybody talks about it, everybody claims it in no small measure but rarely does anybody have a hang of it. It means different things to different people and is the equivalent of a business enigma. If you were to pick at random 10 business individuals and ask them what productivity meant to them, it is almost certain that you will get 10 different versions. Productivity may be defined in terms of volume, cost, price, revenue, profit or any number of other performance measures. This has the effect of making productivity an enigma of sorts.

The term productivity can broadly be defined as: "the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input."

Going Beyond the Cliche

So, effectiveness or efficiency in terms of output for each unit of input can be considered the definition of productivity. In the manufacturing industry, productivity can be measured with this definition accurately. You produce so many units of output for every unit of input. However, in the service industry and in particular hospitality and restaurant business, definition and measuring productivity are much more tricky.

For instance in the rooms department of a hotel, productivity in cleaning guest rooms is a common measure to determine the efficiency of the Housekeeping department. Productivity here is determined by dividing number of hours spent by rooms cleaned per shift. This is a rooms cleaning efficiency expressed as the time it takes to clean each guest room in a shift. It can also be expressed the opposite way - number of guest rooms cleaned per hour. While all of this is a straightforward seeming performance measure, digging a little deeper raises questions such as: 

  • Are all employees who clean guest rooms in the Housekeeping department permanent employees or are there temporary ones or even trainees?
  • Does the calculation for number of hours include break time? If break times are included, does this really reflect efficiency accurately? and so on.

Finite Resources / Time

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.