In many ways, managing a hotel can be like managing a stage crew and like the stage crew being the heart of the house for a production, so it is for our hotels. In fact, places like Disney refer to their staff as “cast members”. And much like Disney, it takes a whole team to make the “magic” happen around here.
Much like in a stage performance, the people working at the front desk that guests see and remember are often referred to as the “front of the house.” Staff working behind-the-scenes to make your hotel experience great also have a term: “heart of the house.”
These individuals often go unseen and unrecognized, so I thought today I’d shine a little light on these amazing “cast members.”
Housekeepers –particularly our housekeepers– are amazing and give life to the phrase “heart of the house”. Watching them work is like watching a ballet – every movement is accounted for. Beds are made with the greatest of ease, and attention is given to each detail of preparing a room for the next guest’s stay.
One of the things that I’ve learned from our team is that family is very important to our housekeepers. They want to be home when their kids get home from school. They love to cook for their family. (Believe me, they are amazing cooks.) So, one of the things that we do differently is pay them by the room. This way if they are fast and efficient, they are rewarded with both great hourly rates and time to be home. Not all hotels operate this way, but it works here.
I remember working with a housekeeper in another hotel who was trying to teach me to make a bed. She simply flipped the sheet into place with one fluid motion. On the other hand, I flipped it only to have it slide to one side and then the other. She said, “You’re getting to much air.” Like I said, it is an art and a science in not only cleaning, but putting a room back together.
Another item important for all of our team is providing them with the tools to succeed. Some hotels provide poor chemicals, linens, vacuums, training etc. and expect a resort looking room when they are done. If the linens are worn out, it’s hard to give the guest a great experience. Once, it was brought to my attention that one of the housekeepers was hiding duvets. She wanted the best ones on her beds. It was past time to say goodbye to the tired duvets and order new ones. Another lesson learned.
Maintenance (Engineering) is also critical to our team’s success. Regular inspections and repair go a long way. Take for instance the in room heating and cooling system. Every year before we are into our busy season, it is important to pull the units out and thoroughly clean them. This provides less problems and longer life to the units. Painting and shampooing carpets is also a big part of what keeps the hotel looking new. Then there are locks, plumbing, lights… I could go on and on.
Then there is laundry. Yes, there is a lot of laundry every day. Again, there is planning and coordination needed. Sheets and towels are washed and dried separately with different programmed cycles. Linens are inspected for stains and damage. Then there are those lovely fitted sheets that need folded and put into bedding bundles for the housekeepers.
Now you can see why I refer to these team members as the “heart of the house.” With their dedication and hard work, our hotels and the “front of the house” keep their vibrancy and true magic is created for our guests’ experience.