What are the new normal standards? - “New role of housekeeping post COVID-19”

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Housekeepers are the real hotel warriors during Pandemic?

What are the new normal standards? - “New role of housekeeping post  COVID-19”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the travel industry is adapting to meet new health and safety concerns. Airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks on flights. Airbnb is encouraging hosts to build in vacancy periods between guests’ stays. Cruising is on hold, thanks to a no-sail order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before this pandemic, few people gave a second thought to sleeping in a bed that hundreds of others had slept in, or touching door handles, faucets, and television remotes. But after, people will be hyper-conscious of all the surfaces in a hotel room that are hosts for the virus.

Hotels, too, have begun dealing with COVID-19 on several fronts. Changes are being made to housekeeping, food safety, and guest check-in and checkout. As with most global restrictions, we do not know whether these changes will be temporary or long-term. But here is a look at what hotel brands are doing to take extra precautions. Hotels have introduced contact-free check-in access, have enhanced disinfecting protocols, more sanitizing tools for guests, making sure on employees’ health.

Hozpitality Group recently hosted a webinar with some prestigious housekeeping professionals around the globe. We have outlined some questions and put them together for our readers in this article. The live webinar panel included Tatjana Ahmed, EHK Grand Hyatt, Dubai (President UAE Housekeepers), Prabhat Shukla, EHK Intercontinental Doha (President Qatar House-keeping Association), Alena Miatlushka, HR Manager, Hilton Toronto, Mikhail Korolka Rooms Division Manager, Novotel, Toronto North York, Paul Saade, EHK Marriott, Beirut, Lebanon, and Vandana Bhatt, MD Hozpitality Group, Toronto, Canada.

Vandana Bhatt, Moderator, MD, Hozpitality Group

I've been really longing to write something on Housekeeping, so now we are here with this live webinar discussing the new protocols and safety guidelines. Most of the hotels have tied up reputed hospitals and cleaning companies to train their staff. I'm looking forward to discuss this as we have put some very interesting questions together. Vandana is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Hozpitality Group. She is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry. Strong professional, skilled in Negotiation, Marketing, Market Research, Business Planning, Operations Management, HR Consulting, and Coaching.

Mikhail Korolko - Rooms Division Manager, Novotel, Toronto North York

1. Your perception of the future of the hotel industry in the next few months. And what strategies it should adopt before they start operations post the lockdown.

The current COVID-19 pandemic situation affected the hospitality industry globally. There is no region where a business hasn’t been dropped dramatically and it may take a long time to recover. However, all of us, as Industry Professionals, have to take this experience and use it to learn from it and develop new strategies we can implement the post lockdown. Some of them are given, such as masks and gloves which are worn by all housekeeping employees. Hand sanitizer dispensers at employee entrance and throughout all workspaces and employee common areas.

Physical distancing observed not just for guests, but in all employee areas, including dining areas and hotel communication sessions. Others may be specific to different properties types (resorts vs business; luxury vs midscale or boutique hotels), geographical regions and also specific to different hotel brands. For example, in Novotel as a part of Accor Brand, I may suggest adjusted shift start times for the housekeeping department to promote the physical distancing of employees. As well, as separate break times, instead of the same designated timing for lunch/dinner breaks as it used to be. No self-service or buffet in employee dining areas as we had before the pandemic.

2. What elevated processes and team member training programs have you planned for a better & safer stay for the guest? Do you plan to partner with external agencies specialized in hygiene & safety products for such training?

We work closely together with the HR department in regards to COVID-19 related training and retooling provided to all employees, especially to room attendants, who are the frontline warriors. Few things implemented already are:

  • Signage and markers communicating physical distancing protocols throughout the hotel’s public spaces and including employee areas.
  • Mandatory screening for all employees upon arrival, which include non-contact temperature check before each shift. In terms of partnering with external agencies, we currently work closely together with Ecolab and have outsourced our laundry/linen services with an external Laundry Company K-Bro, which provides specialized laundry services for hospitals and has extended strict hygiene & safety protocol.

In partnership with Ecolab, we use in rooms AHP® Hydrogen Peroxide and other EPA-registered is infecting chemicals which has no rest period and instantly kill virus after applying on surfaces. Already implemented Cintas and AP Environmental innovative touchless dispensers in front of all elevators and in public washrooms. Full product range and formats of EPA-registered disinfecting chemicals (ECOLAB) from a single dispenser available for Room Attendants.

3. What are the challenges that the Learning & Development would encounter in the post-pandemic times?

The main focus in Learning & Development in the post-pandemic times will be on informing and educating colleagues about COVID-19 and Coronavirus. How it can be transmitted and what’s the first symptoms and signs of infection they might need to pay attention to. However, especially first time, until everyone used to do it, I still see the biggest challenges as: 

  • Reinforce personal hygiene and PPE (personal protective equipment) etiquette. Educate employees on infection control, PPE use, and communicate Infection Control Procedures.
  • Closely monitor employee health and have symptomatic employees to stay home per company illness policy, instead of committing to come to work.
  • Identify critical staff members and functions – develop a business continuity plan with flexible shifts, new productivity standards (number of rooms cleaned per shift), deep cleaning procedures, separate “self-isolation” floors, etc.
  • Have employees disinfect all personal tools and equipment used as referenced in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Proper uniform, shoe cleaning procedures.
  • Educate and inform all employees of pandemic status and proper infection control procedures.

4. Do you forecast any paradigm change in the guest service design from the point of view of Hygiene & safety? How would it be disseminated amongst the staff?

I forecast possibly fewer requests from guests for special on-call items to be delivered to the room (such as dental and shaving kits, etc.), because guests may prefer to use their own items. I see also less requests for turndown service and cleaning during stayover. But, a more enhanced focus on disinfection of all guest room touchpoints, including light switches, remote controls, etc. In public areas increased frequency of bell cart cleaning & disinfecting, due to possibly more guests prefer to use self-service to avoid extra contact with bell person.

Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection in all common areas, gym, pool, locker rooms, public washrooms, etc. with EPA-registered chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Guest expect all amenities in the room have to be individually wrapped or properly sanitized and disinfected. To have a “peace of mind” about the hotel being a 100% safe environment for our guests and employees, and how we can ensure them about it- this is my main focus as a Manager.

5. Housekeeping has to become the frontline warriors to fight against the pandemic, So, what new hygiene protocols are you planning to adopt to take the hotel from “Aesthetically clean” to “Clinically Clean”?

In terms of planning “Clinically Clean” rooms we are implementing several new procedures: Increase frequency of standard cleaning procedures and introduce special deep cleaning procedures. For example 48 hour “resting period” between guest stays when rooms carry over for 2 days and followed by deep cleaning and disinfection. Stayover housekeeping service every third day and wellness checks daily. Personal Protective Equipment is worn by all room attendants and changed after each guestroom No housekeeping service while the guest is inside the room. Continued use of EPA-registered disinfecting chemicals (ECOLAB), proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 all the time. Some specific protocols apply to public areas: Hand sanitizer stations in key areas throughout the hotel. Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting with EPA-registered chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19, with special attention to high-touch points. Cleaning time sheets displayed in public areas, visible to all guests. Removal of coffee & water station; individual bottled water available from Front desk.  The lobby seating area rearranged to facilitate physical distancing. Signage and markers communicating physical distancing protocols in all public spaces.

Signage to indicate maximum occupancy to promote physical distancing in elevators. Hand sanitizer available in elevator foyers Antibacterial soap year-round in public washrooms and hand sanitizer stations located outside washrooms. High-touch disinfecting every hour with EPA-registered chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Cleaning time sheets displayed visibly to guests.

Guest Room

Avoid assigning connecting rooms to parties not traveling together, whenever possible. Separate floor assigns for guests with “self-isolation “purpose and specific protocols delivering and taking any items to those rooms. “Wellness kits” provided in each room (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, etc.) Tea/coffee makers provided upon request and disinfected between each use. Removal of minibar items, pens & stationery, hotel collateral, print magazines, alarm clock, etc.; items available upon request, and disinfected between each use – new items provided where and when possible. Guest requests carried out in a thoughtful manner with guests’ safety top of mind.

Business Center

Set-up of computer and equipment to promote physical distancing. Hand sanitizer stations by each computer. Business amenities available upon request, ensuring disinfecting between each use Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting with EPA- registered chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19

Pool / Recreation

Gloves and masks are worn by attendants providing towels.

Physical distancing maintained via signage, placement of chairs, and revised occupancy limits Lounge chairs disinfected after each use. Hand sanitizer stations in key areas throughout the hotel. Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting with EPA-registered chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19, including public areas, restrooms and towel desk Signage and markers communicating physical distancing protocols in public spaces

Fitness

Hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfecting wipes available throughout facility Physical distancing maintained via signage and markers Reservation of gym time through Front Desk or Concierge, where available Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting with EPA-registered chemicals, proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 Cleaning time sheets displayed Signage and markers communicating physical distancing protocols in public spaces

6. How do you gauge the changing perceptions of guests towards quality in the post-pandemic period? And how would you address them?

I see guests having much higher expectations about the cleanliness and safety of the hotel. So, all staff members, including housekeeping, need to know how to address it properly. They may be asked very specific questions and need to know how to handle this situation. So, it’s not just “what to do” and “how to do it”, but also how to “handle it” properly as a “Duty of Care”. Duty of Care is the legal obligation for hotels to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests, and we have to show our clients what we do actually care about them and taking all necessary steps to protect them and our employees in those difficult times.

Paul Saade, EHK Marriott, Beirut

1. Your perception of the future of the hotel industry in the next few months. And what strategies it should adopt before they start operations post the lockdown?

The hospitality industry has gone through very critical moments that affect the whole industry all over the world which was impacted by the COVID 19 more than 9/11 and the second crises that happened in 2007 however we overcome both, the same will happen with COVID19 as a business will go back on track yet there is a lot to be done on our side in terms of the service, gain trust, and be the undisputed leader in the market and hotel of the same cities needs to align re-opening strategies, -Masks and gloves worn by all housekeeping employees.

Hand sanitizer dispensers at employee entrance and throughout all workspaces and employee common areas.

And what strategies it should adopt before they start operations post the lockdown.

If that would be possible one of the smartest hit is to Assess the market conditions for the next 6 months together with the sales strategies in each hotel to come up with a what-if scenario to maximize the hotel revenue it could include a review of the latest airport statistics on a number of arrivals and re-opening of flight routes.

2. What elevated processes and team member training programs have you planned for a better & safer stay for the guest? Do you plan to partner with external agencies specialized in hygiene & safety products for such training?

Example: Hilton has partnered with Reckitt Benckiser & Mayo clinic for its “Clean Stay” initiative.

Marriott International has implemented the new program that will be all over the properties as it was announced by our CEO Mr. Arne Sorenson called “NEW NORMAL "for sure there will be a clear operating implication to protect associates and Guests which will impact how hotels do housekeeping and check-in guests, there will be different protocols, and more distance between guests and associates all the efforts will increase the cleanliness and will meet the new health and safety challenge that was brought by COVID19.

3. What are the challenges that the Learning & Development would encounter in the post-pandemic times?

What was good about the COVID 19 that people were obliged to live with the precautions required to protect themselves and the surroundings, which creates awareness and alert on applying methods in all aspects strictly, I believe implementation will be easy L&D will mainly need to use all the cases that have encountered not necessarily in the properties yet everywhere to train associates and discuss it with their teams, based on training calendars that will be created with the mentoring of the EXCOM members at each hotel

4. Do you forecast any paradigm change in the guest service design for Hygiene & safety?

To be honest, what I can see that always guest comes for experience and when they see the precautious starting from the airport till the room from the interaction and the procedures that will help to keep the guest safe. However, the guest always will look into all the aspects at once, we need to have the hygiene and safety up to the guest experience, starting from the cleaning and providing the service as well. The interactions and the special touches on the face masks that would be provided as an example. This would be the only way to maintain a well-managed change and retaining the guest after this Pandemic COVID-19.

How would it be disseminated amongst the staff?

The whole trust and proudness as well the work with passion, loyalty will make things very easy to be accepted and to do it as I do believe when you take care of your employee I mean in all aspects than your employee will take care of your guests and guest will come back

5. Housekeeping has to become the frontline warriors to fight against the pandemic, So, what new hygiene protocols are you planning to adopt to take the hotel from “Aesthetically clean” to “Clinically Clean”?

We have full trust in what was discussed earlier and shared by our CEO Mr. Arne Sorenson it is the “New Normal”, as well as the implementation of new machines and various chemicals that will support the protocols of doing the Housekeeping service.

6. How do you gauge the changing perceptions of guests towards quality in the post-pandemic period?

Calculating the measures at it is going to be the best way of protecting and offering the best value to the guest that he is looking for, and for sure the changes are was studied well before post COVID19 opening which will start by sending the guest with his automated confirmation letter the precautious taken from the hotel towards his stay to guaranty a safe and memorable experience.

And how would you address them?

This will vary case by case as there will be different verbiage unified and the team will be trained accordingly which the Learning and development team will train the employees to behave accordingly, without causing any inconveniences to the guests eg: Hotel guest instruction booklet about the COVID-19 could be e-mailed to the Guest on pre-arrival stage this could be.

Alena Miatlushka - HR Manager, Hilton Toronto Human Resources and Talent Development Professional

1. Your perception of the future of the hotel industry in the next few months. And what strategies it should adopt before they start operations post the lockdown?

Many industries are preparing for a return to work after the lockdown and adopting new ways of operations like a shorter working week, complete or partial work from home, etc. However, we all know these options are very limited in hospitality, maybe some admin departments, HR, accounting, sales, and reservations can adopt them, but we know for a fact that work from home is not an option for a housekeeping function. We cannot clean rooms remotely, can we?

I think now is the time not to ‘go back to normal’, but to create a ‘new normal’. Return to work can be positive, and scary at the same time of what to expect. Besides all the ‘safe cleaning measures’ spoken about by our HK professionals I think that post the lockdown we cannot return to the status quo from the people's standpoint. And there are a few things that we need to consider:

  • Country legislation and changes related to the pandemic impact. Every employer has a legal obligation to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of its employees, customers, and others. Get familiar with new regulations, for instance, Infectious Disease Emergency Leave which was recently enacted in Ontario, Canada.
  • Together with your HR leader create a recall plan. Then determine your business and/or operational priorities and the associated skills required. After identifying the employees with those skills, being careful about your selection process does not trigger any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.
  • Demographics of your housekeeping population – Are there are opportunities to offer a shorter working week for the most senior team members? Considering that, they are the most senior people age-wise and may fall into the risk group when it comes to infectious diseases like COVID? And what would be the legal implications of such a decision?
  • To ensure a successful return to business, it is crucial that hotels have a solid pandemic response plan to reinforce confidence among returning guests and employees. Having a well-planned calendar considering the timing and any required operational changes will be critical. For example scheduling. The number of shifts and the start time of each shift, the number of breaks, and the time allocated for them. It may be more challenging for the leaders to manage these complicated schedules on another hand they will have more opportunities to better connect with their team members and understand their emotional state.
  • Communication is the key. Let employees know what to expect regarding what the environment will look like. Possible changes to operating hours. Will there be more/fewer responsibilities? Will there be any additional training provided? And how long it will take to implement changes?
  • Creating the right conditions for our people’s safety and their mental wellbeing. The uncertainty and disruption have consequences for all employees as they attempt to juggle home life, work, and possible financial stress. Our HK leaders will definitely need to give team members the opportunity to ask and share what is needed to help them to cope with their personal situations. with their personal situations.

2. What elevated processes and team member training programs have you planned for a better & safer stay for the guest? Do you plan to partner with external agencies specialized in hygiene & safety products for such training?

Globally Hilton is partnering with Reckitt Benckiser and Mayo Clinic to develop elevated processes and team member training to help Hilton guests have safer stays. Clean Stay with Lysol protection will be a rigorous system that incorporates RB’s trusted, scientific approach to cleaning practices and product offerings.

Experts from Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control team helping Hilton in rewriting its cleaning protocols to translate the best practices in hospital hygiene standards to hotel guest rooms. Medical experts will also advise on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development, and create a rigorous quality assurance program. Standards will range from contactless check-in via smartphone, to UV and electro-static sanitation technology, and a “Clean Stay Room Seal” on doors, indicating that rooms have not been accessed since a thorough, pre-arrival cleaning.  

3. What are the challenges that the Learning & Development would encounter in the post-pandemic times?

During these times, Leaders (obviously those who were working) became more accommodating and they should stay this way. Because our team members re-think what they want from work and life during the lockdown, so their priorities might have changed as well. Therefore, leaders need to be consistent and have an inclusive approach. Leaders will need to be equipped with information and coaching/problem-solving skills based on pandemic real life-scenarios if you want.

Topics may include:

  • Illness and Isolation: When should an employee be required to remain at home?
  • Leave Entitlements: To what leaves of absence might an employee be entitled?
  • Family Status: Is there an obligation to provide accommodation for childcare or elder care?
  • Work Refusal: How to respond if an employee refuses to work related to COVID-19?

Another thing I would suggest is to introduce re-boarding (like an onboarding we have for the new hires). Communicate a recall day to your team members well in advance. Written notice is a best practice for all employers, and should include the recall date, any adjustments to working conditions, and the health and safety measures (e.g., health screening on entry) or PPE required on return.

Provide all necessary information like new policies, protocols, maybe new JDS (that needs to be revised and adjusted to the new norms now), maybe videos with new cleaning techniques that they can watch beforehand. Organize a virtual class (Zoom) and train your colleagues on theories before their first day. And on the first day focus on on-the-job training in one or a small group setting.

At the very least, consider policies, practices, and training for the key items:

  • Hygiene and Sanitation
  • Screening
  • Physical Distancing (changes to the workplace and to working conditions)
  • Travel and Contact Logs
  • PPE - Consider any or all PPE as may be applicable to your workplace. Source the identified PPE as early as possible. In any event, prior to returning to work, communicate to employees any PPE-related requirements and policies. Employees may also require training on how to appropriately don, doff, and dispose of PPE in biohazard bins provided by the employer.
  • Infectious Diseases (generally and regarding COVID-19) - If not already established, you should have an Infectious Disease or COVID-19 Policy which sets out the process, and reporting obligations, if an employee has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.• Recall • Work Refusal
  • Requests for Accommodation

Constantly talk to you room/public area attendants, ask them what works and what does not because they are front liners, they implement and start practicing new protocols. Have they noticed anything in their immediate experience that the company may need to address?  Then based on their feedback make necessary adjustments.   

4. Do you forecast any paradigm change in the guest service design from Hygiene & safety? How would it be disseminated amongst the staff?

Hilton Clean Stay was developed to meet evolving consumer expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research indicates that consumers have heightened concerns regarding hygiene on their journey, and trust in cleanliness standards will be critical to restarting travel. Our HK experts can explain a forecasted change in the guest service design better than I. However, I am a frequent traveler, and my expectations are:

  • Less, or no visits in the room during my stay (depending on the duration of the stay).
  • Sealed bathroom amenities. No large shampoo, gel, etc. dispensers that we were initiating as part of our ‘green’ programs.
  • Availability of sanitizer, wipes, masks, and other cleaning and protective amenities.
  • Maybe disposable or sealed cutleries and caps
  • No collaterals etc.

I also would prefer to be informed if there was an entry to the room during my absence

5. Housekeeping has to become the frontline warriors to fight against the pandemic, So, what new hygiene protocols are you planning to adopt to take the hotel from “Aesthetically clean” to “Clinically Clean”?

I think we will need to continuously educate our team members and promote the best practices in hospital hygiene standards translated to hotel rooms’ standards that we spoke about earlier. And explain not only what and how, but also why we need to do it in a new way. Give people a scientific explanation and reassure them that their safety is the main concern. Then keep reminding, communicating any updates, listening to what they have to say about their experience and observations about the new procedures. And then based on their feedback create case scenarios that can be shared with others for educational purposes. While full details for the program are still in development and expected to be announced this month, hotel brand standards under consideration include:

Hilton CleanStay Room Seal: Add an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on doors to indicate to guests that their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned.

  • De-clutter Paper Amenities: Remove pen, paper, and guest directory; supplement with digital or available upon request.
  • Focus on Fitness Centers: Improved guidelines for disinfecting the hotel Fitness Center, possibly closing for cleaning multiple times daily and limiting the number of guests allowed in at one time.
  • Clean and Clean Again: Increase the frequency of cleaning public areas.
  • Guest-Accessible Disinfecting Wipes: Provide stations at primary entrances and key high traffic areas, for instance, a station to allow guests to wipe the elevator button before pressing.
  • Contactless Check-In: Hilton will double-down on its award-winning Digital Key technology for guests who desire to have a contactless arrival experience. Guests can check-in, choose their room, access their room with a digital room key, and check-out using their mobile devices through the Hilton Honors mobile app at participating hotels. Hilton will continue to expand its Digital Key capabilities to common doors and access points throughout the hotels.
  • Innovative Disinfection Technologies: Hilton is exploring the addition of new technologies, like electrostatic sprayers – which use an electrostatically charged disinfecting mist – and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects.

And throughout the new cleaning process, hotel Team Members will be provided with personal protective equipment and enhanced training designed to protect their well-being while continuing to deliver unmatched Hilton hospitality.

6. How do you gauge the changing perceptions of guests towards quality in the post-pandemic period? And how would you address them?

Lobby Ambassadors/Guest experience champion facilitating guests’ interviews and taking this opportunity to educate them about measures in place. Guests’ satisfaction surveys may include new questions related to hygiene and safety etc. The introduction of a new hotel level sanitization specialist or hygiene manager may help with data collection as well as Risk Assessment & Hierarchy of Controls, Program support and Hospitality risk factors, and psychological Health & Safety. I have noticed quite a several recent posts on LI from various hotels hiring Hygiene/Health & Safety Managers now.

Tatjana Ahmed - EHK Grand Hyatt, Dubai (President UAE Housekeepers)

1.Your perception of the future of the hotel industry in the next few months. And what strategies it should adopt before they start operations post the lockdown?

Hotels will gradually re-open with different restrictions in place. Certainly, a business will slowly increase as countries open up to international air travel. Especially if the 14 days isolation or quarantine will be removed. However, before this happens, here in Dubai we are looking to focus on staycations, especially as the long summer holidays are starting on 2nd July.

With regards to adaptions before starting operation, the most important step is to check government guidelines about the reopening of hotels.

We assume that Covid-19 is here to stay for at least a few months, so we need to implement certain measures to keep people in your property safe. For example, physical (aka social) distancing of 2 meters in all areas, providing temperature checks and sanitizers throughout the hotel for guests as well as our colleagues.

Your local health organization’s protocols should be displayed in all guestrooms and public areas. It would help people focus on critical steps to be taken for health and safety.

Training is a very important factor. Our providers for chemicals and cleaning supplies have come up with an Infection Prevention Program and enhanced cleaning practices with help to ensure that the hotel has a revised hygiene plan in place.

There will certainly be an adaption of certification programs for team members to ensure quality cleaning is adhered to.

2. What elevated processes and team member training programs have you planned for a better & safer stay for the guest? Do you plan to partner with external agencies specialized in hygiene & safety products for such training?

At Hyatt, the safety and wellbeing of colleagues, guests, and customers remain a top priority, and to further deliver on our purpose of care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, Hyatt announced a Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to further enhance its operational guidance and resources around colleague and guest safety and peace of mind. Some of the initiatives are:

  • An accreditation process by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) at all hotels around the world
  • New colleague training and support resources, and every Hyatt hotel will have at least one person on property trained as Hygiene and Wellness Manager by September 2020
  • A cross-functional working group of medical experts and industry professionals that will contribute to various aspects of the hotel experience
  • Our regional offices have issued new operational guidelines for guest room cleaning, Public area, and washroom cleaning, which are very detailed and used as training material

We have gone from recommendations of the World Health organization to other affiliated associations such as ISSA who have rolled out guidance for cleaning and disinfection.

Our suppliers for cleaning supplies and chemicals have assisted us in outlining training sessions for high touch surfaces, correct usage of disinfection chemicals, and infection prevention.

3. What are the challenges that the Learning & Development would encounter in the post-pandemic times?

The pandemic as improved the value placed on the importance of cleaning. And this is a very important point when it comes to the recognition of what the housekeeping department does.

Cleanliness has become a very important factor. This could be seen already over the past few years in which customer surveys have seen to be adapted to include a rating for the cleanliness of guest rooms and other hotel facilities.so it was not so much the ambiance anymore but more of the cleanliness and wellbeing factor for the customer which was being measured.

So I think the message was there already, cleanliness is the most important single factor for guests to return to a property.

Having said this, ensuring that our employees perform at the same high level is paramount. Moreover, making sure that they know that they are held accountable for the work they do. So re-training them when they come back on board to re-open the hotel is very vital as policies and procedures for cleaning have changed.

4. Do you forecast any paradigm change in the guest service design from the point of view of Hygiene & safety? How would it be disseminated amongst the staff?

Yes, guests might not want to have housekeeping service twice a day or even daily because they do not want to be disturbed or have hotel employees coming to their room.

Housekeeping services might be rather “on-call” than being carried out automatically.

Technology will be very beneficial in this aspect. If guests request for service, this request can be forwarded to the room attendant on their device and then can go and perform the service. And of course, there will be no service without proper PPE and disinfection.

5. Housekeeping has to become the frontline warriors to fight against the pandemic, So, what new hygiene protocols are you planning to adopt to take the hotel from “Aesthetically clean” to “Clinically Clean”?

I think many of us have already advocated this a long time ago. But the new norm will require a disinfection process, in addition to the existing standards of proper use of microfibre cloth, sanitizers, steam cleaning machines, and black lights. An important factor would also be to take away the stopwatch when cleaning rooms. A room is clean when it’s properly cleaned not when the x-amount of minutes is over.

6. How do you gauge the changing perceptions of guests towards quality in the post-pandemic period? And how would you address them?

Welcoming our customers back will reflect our core values of care, generosity, and integrity. Our community needs to understand that we are providing a clean and safe environment for them and their families on their return.

We know that there will be “New Norm” in customer behavior and our willingness to assist in delivering this new norm will reflect positively on the hospitalities future.

There will be also an increased visibility of housekeeping employees in public areas repeating disinfection processes on an hourly basis. We must showcase our best practices. Besides, in Dubai, hotels are monitored by the DTCM as well as by the Dubai Municipality who do frequent audits on hotels to ensure that all measures are implemented as per their guidelines.

Prabhat Shukla - EHK Intercontinental Doha, (President, Qatar Housekeeping Association)

1. Your perception of the future of the hotel industry in the next few months. And what strategies it should adopt before they start operations post the lockdown?

All hotels including ours are getting ready with new guidelines & ways of working from their brand head office & local tourism authorities, As an industry professional, we are accustomed to implementing local govt. & health authority guidelines regarding cleanliness, disinfection, physical distancing & another post-COVID -19 modus operandi.

To welcome our guests & colleagues with confidence, We are reading these guidelines to formulate new SOPs, teams are discussing them with colleagues through virtual sessions.

Explaining the difference between cleaning, sanitizing & disinfecting to everyone is a challenge same is understanding new time-motion study which will consume 8-12 min more in per room to clean, So credits to be realigned, consumption of cleaning agents & PPE will be another overhead on expenses, forecasting on manning as it won’t be same as projected in the first quarter of 2020.

Training & situation handling classes for colleagues with proper knowledge of newly introduced chemicals, equipment & working phrases are in progress.

2. What elevated processes and team member training programs have you planned for a better & safer stay for the guest? Do you plan to partner with external agencies specialized in hygiene & safety products for such training?

There will be radical changes in “New way of Normal” from contactless check- inn & payments, to room keys & immunity passes, sanitization tunnels to electrostatic sprayer & contactless payments are on discussion table.mostly all leading brands had collaborated with some international Hospitals of Medical advisory experts to bring their expertise & confidence in mind to guests that everything is well-guided efforts.

3. What are the challenges that the Learning & Development would encounter in the post-pandemic times?

The role of housekeeper has been changed 360 degrees from a laymen’s job to a specialist in the clinically clean room, firstly to make them understand the guidelines & get their confidence that they are safe in what they are doing, on the top limited scope of having on the job training, encouraging to be more techno-savvy arranging their virtual classes are few challenges which a housekeeper will encounter, we will look for colleagues who are well training or exposed with chemicals their concentrations & usages, gradually Housekeeping departmental trainers will be like Haccap certified for kitchens.

4. Do you forecast any paradigm change in the guest service design from the point of view of Hygiene & safety? How would it be disseminated amongst the staff?

Fewer contact services will be norms so is social & physical distancing, NO MORE “sharing is caring” occ of twin rooms for two co. Individuals will be declined, usage if disposable or edible cutleries, disinfectant & wipes will be included in daily room supplies whereas minibar & dry amenities will be on request. Currently, the norm says only after 24 Hrs of a departure room should be sold & disinfect & sanitation of room & HVAC systems after every checkout. Checklist & documentations will be key & a log way to get aligned these norms uniformly in the hospitality industry as selective best practices.

5. Housekeeping has to become the frontline warriors to fight against the pandemic, So, what new hygiene protocols are you planning to adopt to take the hotel from “Aesthetically clean” to “Clinically Clean”?

No housekeeping will be more theatrical cleaning then aesthetical cleaning, the guest would be like to see what & how you are performing the cleaning, invisible housekeeping is passed.to be in front line team has to be more confident as if guest ask any question or usage team member should be confidently sharing the information to build & keep the trust.

Learning & understanding the proper usage of PPE, machines & chemicals are the key points. Now from someone who loves to décor his /her house or assist in cleaning & keep things in good shape to a technical expert who knows the correct chemical usage knowledge of hygiene ^ familiar with sprayers, sanitizers, high touchpoints with the right usage of formulated chemicals.

Services on request or timing when a guest is out for servicing the rooms are getting into the trend, lastly, hotels are promoting their hotel with a housekeeper in backdrop sanitizing or disinfecting on of the high touch.

6. How do you gauge the changing perceptions of guests towards quality in the post-pandemic period? And how would you address them?

As the whole guest journey cycle will be limited in this new norm we have to make sure that “ value for his money “ & experience is not deteriorated. Post-COVID guests are likely to be more vigilant & cautious of their choices & brands while selecting for their stay. Reassurance on hygiene & safety which is a core of the business will play a vital role to build confidence among guests to travel again, we have to be more mindful to keep our first step on this path as this will decide the volume of travelers. Bespoke packages of individuals of families, staycations & travelers from 18-35 who are less vulnerable to COVID 19 will be out first to travel, we have to adapt as per their taste & priorities to deliver them a magnificent experience.

 

You can get the glimpse of the webinar here through the Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aTTp84kVJA&t=1052s