No need to scream for Mr. Clean. With hotels constantly looking for a competitive edge, many operators are going back to the basics to move forward. That is, they’re looking for cleanliness control. After all, cleanliness is one of the critical operational tent poles along with experience, customer service and delivering value. And those hotels that can deliver a crisp, clean and fresh smelling stay are sure to get an advantage.
Here are some helpful pointers to keeping your property tidy from dirt, grime and grease that even Mr. Clean would give you his stamp of approval.
Read online booking sites for reviews written not only your hotel’s cleanliness but your competitors and those comparable to your destination. Keep a close ear and open your eyes to what people are saying about you because the truth is, word of mouth is a powerful tool and in today’s evolving age of social media platforms, that good or bad word can spread like a wildfire. If you have a Twitter or Facebook account for your property, have your interactive media leaders pull reports on where conversations related to you are happening.
If a guest isn’t happy with his room, any smart hotel knows it’s not only courteous and expected to remedy the situation but even more importantly, to do it immediately. At any given time, your hotel should be equipped with the right amount of staff that can act on any complaint or request, 24 hours a day. If the concerned guest is vocalizing his below-than-average experience on a travel review site, don’t wait to do something about it. Guests appreciate knowing that someone is actually hearing them out, and that goes for both bad and positive remarks.
“According to a commissioned survey of more than 2,100 travelers conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of TripAdvisor, 79 percent of travelers said a good management response to a bad review reassures them, and 78 percent said a good management response to a good review makes them think highly of the hotel,” said TripAdvisor Head of Industry Relations, Brian Payea. After all, there aren’t many people out there who take the time to compose a review without hoping for someone to acknowledge them. That would be like saying Facebook users post status updates to their friends just to result in no “likes” or comments. What would be the point in that?
It used to be that when a guest walked into a hotel room, they looked around and if the room looked clean, that was enough. With great advancements in technology comes consequences and the good news for you is that the equipment to further sanitize hotel rooms has taken leaps and strides from what was accessible to us ten, even five years ago. The bad news is that with any reliable product comes media and consumer attention, resulting in educated travelers who now walk into their hotel rooms with the pre-conceived notion that the hotel is guilty until proven innocent…or in this case, clean.
At Best Western International, they’ve taken the opportunity to hone in on guests’ number one priority these days – cleanliness – and introduced the I Care Clean program earlier this summer. Now the “only-seen-on-TV” instruments from investigative TV series such as CSI are Best Western’s new sidekicks. The program announced some impressive additions to the housekeeping teams’ tool box: ultra violet sterilization wands, inspection black lights, remote wraps and pillow wraps. Best Western exemplifies that being clean is no longer an option for growing your business, it is a must. Contact the company who supplies you with the current tools used to clean your rooms and challenge them to provide you with the latest weapons to succeed in the eyes of your customers.
Without the proper housekeeping staff, the tools might as well collect dust and be kept in the storage closet. General Manager for Best Western Plus Bloomington Hotel at Mall of America, Mark Olson, said, “housekeepers are the hardest working people in this business today and by giving them the new tools involved in our program, we’ve seen an increased price in ownership for their job and renewed sense that they are directly involved in the overall success of the entire hotel.” Get your housekeeping team excited by taking the proper steps in introducing them to new tools and teach them of evolving guest expectations. To maintain the enthusiasm and passion for their job, consider presenting a rewards program where certain staff members who exceed in their housekeeping responsibilities are acknowledged and compensated. Make room in your budget to do the extensive training and to show your team that their role in the hotel is a significant and impactful one. After training, individual testing should be conducted in a checklist manner to include commonly overlooked areas – above the TV stand, inside the coffee pot and inside the ice bucket, are some. Even beds that appear to be untouched shouldn’t be ignored; team members who are trained well should know to pull back the comforter to check for crinkled sheets, hair and any stains. A couple rules of thumb to instill in the staff – just because you can’t see dirt, doesn’t mean it’s clean. Also, be mindful of the overly fragrant cleaners; guests don’t want to walk into a hotel room just to be overwhelmed with the scent of cleaning product. Give housekeeping ample time to do their job before the next guest occupies the room.
The happiest guest is the one who has a great holistic experience – from the moment they step into the property to the moment they leave. For a truly satisfied customer, all departments within your hotel should be engaged with the same goal in mind and ensuring that the property is as clean and inviting as possible. Consider taking a few of your employees from different departments and walking through a typical guest’s encounter. Let’s start with the front desk. Sealed Air’s Sharma said, “the welcome by the staff was the third biggest influence” when forming opinions of their stay. Is the front desk cluttered? Décor and signage should be kept to a minimum and all tastefully done. How often are carpets shampooed and cleaned (in a high-occupancy hotel, carpets should be thoroughly cleaned at least once every six weeks)? Sharma also said that overall bathroom cleanliness was extremely important. The chrome should be shined, seat covers should be stocked in public restrooms, the rim under the toilet seat cover should be sanitized and cleaning product should sit before being rinsed and wiped off. Managers need to look at these factors and take the extra time to do meticulous inspections on a daily basis. Make team members accountable for the look and feel of the hotel. If something isn’t up to standard, team members should be comfortable enough to notify the appropriate department right away.
Building a loyal customer base isn’t always easy work. As with many things, sometimes you have to get down and dirty to come through at the top of your game. The fact that cleanliness ranks so high above other options when guests book a stay demonstrates that guests want a certain experience when they select a place to lay their heads down. Always aim to improve your hotel reputation and build a loyal customer base by recognizing what the customer wants and create a strategic plan to meet those demands.