The housekeeping department of our hotels and resorts has a lot to teach us about hospitality.

The housekeeping department of our hotels and resorts has a lot to teach us about hospitality.

Before starting Dynamic Sales Solutions, we’ve spent decades consulting hoteliers, tourism specialists, and their teams on client-centered sales and culture in the workplace.  We’ve worked with client service reps, managers, owners, group sales teams, vacation experts – and well, really – if you name an individual in your organizational chart, we’ve most likely hired, trained and supervised their work.  Not to mention we have done nearly every job there is to do in a hotel, resort or restaurant ourselves.

Over the years, it has come to my attention that one of the most crucial jobs being done in the tourism and travel related industries is that of the one person who often goes unnoticed.  The invisible tour de force; the shadowy figure that meets our every need.  Extra blankets, mints on our pillows, towel animals that appear from what seems like thin air.  She makes sure our room-occupying predecessor is all but a faint memory in the minds of the staff, leaves nothing behind, and washes away their very essence.  She (and often, he) is our VIP team member; the housekeeper.  Also known as the maid, cleaning lady, or domestic engineer, and you can reach her by dialing zero on your room phone.  And often, she arrives in less time than it would take 9-1-1 to reach an emergency – though, as members of this industry, we all know that a grumpy client may act as if they are dialing 9-1-1.

It seems that this important position in many establishments is often overlooked, and not openly appreciated for her devotion to her work – work that, if it did not get done effectively and efficiently, would cause us all to be out of work altogether.

So today, we applaud the housekeeping departments in hotels and resorts throughout the world, who have so much to teach each of us regarding our day to day approach to our jobs. With that being said, here are five lessons that can be learned from those that are devoted to cleaning up the messes of others.

ONE: Mop Your Way Out

If you have ever hired a cleaning service for your own home, or have ever been lingering in the condominium hallway when a housekeeper is wrapping up her duties, you will see her mop or vacuum her way out of the room.  It is the last thing she does, careful not only to clean up after those who used the room before you, but also careful to leave no trace of herself.  This tells the client that they are so important, that anything that happened before she was there is irrelevant to the client, and they do not have to worry about anything but enjoying their stay.  Are you doing the same?  Don’t allow residual feelings from prior bad interactions or drama from your own day interfere with the job you do or the way in which you greet, care for, or service your clients.

TWO: Listen

When I ask for four extra towels, that is what she brings me.  Not two.  Not six.  Four.  She listens to me, and offers me what I need.  If I need a toothbrush, she makes that happen.  If, prior to my arrival, I ask that the air be turned down to a specific temperature, she is the one who makes that happen.  She listens to my needs.  Are you listening to your clients?

THREE: Go the Extra Mile

I travel a lot.  Because I travel, I have a cleaning service – a group of wonderful ladies who come to my home to make sure it is neat and tidy so that when I arrive home, I can enjoy being at home, rather than having to sweat over dust bunnies and window film.  Not only do they do the job I pay them to do, my housekeeper does something so simple, so easy – but it makes me smile, and lets me know she cares about her work; she take the toilet paper, carefully folds it into a triangle at the perforated point, and seals it with a bright, gold sticker.  She does this in each bathroom, and it makes me note that she was there, and she took her time to care.  What are you doing to go the extra mile in your position?  Today, think of one small, non-time-consuming act that will make your client think you’ve gone out of your way to make their stay special.

Please Do Not DisturbFOUR: Do Not Disturb (but don’t expect it to stay that way)

Housekeeping pays attention to that little sign you hang from your door.  If it is hung on the side that reads, “Do Not Disturb,” they don’t.  They take your privacy seriously.  BUT…when you finally wake up from your very, very late sleep-in, she still comes with a smile when you ring the front desk and say, “Is there any way I can still receive room cleaning services today?”  Like any person who wraps up their work early, she is probably happy to think she got through the day with one less room to clean, but she doesn’t show it when she cleans your room after cleaning hours have technically passed.  So, don’t show your clients your frustration when they check-in at 3am and disturb your late-night paperwork.  Smile and be happy to help.

FIVE: Don’t Blame Your Assistant

Housekeepers often have trainees working with them. In all my years of staying in hotels around the world, I can say that only a handful of times, when I have had to contact management regarding an unclean room, or some other issue, the housekeeping manager has never blamed her “help.”  In almost every instance, maids take responsibility for issues that may have very well resulted from the maid who was there before she even arrived to work.  Are you taking responsibility no matter the issue?  If so, you will appear capable, prepared, and dedicated to your clients’ satisfaction.  No matter what, a simple, “I am sorry for the inconvenience, ma’am.” will most often do the trick. Time for teachable moments and additional training should be taken out of ear-shot of any clients or other employees.