We walk in to a hotel without ever stopping to think what it takes to make our entrance spectacular. The lobby has to be cleaned, hallways, entrance, and of course the rooms. There is an army of workers behind the scenes that we seldom see. These workers are the unsung heroes of the hotel industry. They are as a whole the lowest paid, and the hardest workers of the hotel; the housekeepers, the landscapers, the public area cleaners. It's their job to make sure that the hotel shines every day. There is linen to be washed and beds to be made up, and floors to be vacuumed. Ever wonder who does all of this? Most housekeepers average 14 rooms per shift, in some hotels it is even higher (17). That's an average of 20 beds to be made up, 14 bathrooms to clean, 28 trash cans to empty and 14 rooms to vacuum and so on. The guest seldom sees this army of people battling the clock so as to have the rooms sparkling clean for the next guest who will check in.
The guest as a whole does not stop to think that someone had to clean the room prior to their arrival, and maybe several times during their stay. These workers are hired and trained in the art of how to clean a room properly and in an efficient manner. They must know the products that they are using and how best to use them. They also must attend customer service meetings. In some hotels the housekeeping department may have as many as 7 different cultures working side by side - different languages that must be able to communicate with the guest. All of this must be done with a smile, and usually with minimum wage salaries.
I wonder if most of the hotel executives could perform those duties in the event of a strike, or walk out; perhaps a blizzard in which workers are not able to come to work. While working for Accor (motel6) I had to make up 10 rooms as part of their training plan. Working with a housekeeper that is able to clean a room in about 18 minutes, I don't even want to say how long it took me to clean a room. I have a great deal of respect for the people that work as the housekeepers of our industry.
The housekeeping department is the heart of the hotel. It is what keeps it in tune, it flows like a fine rhythm, never missing a beat. It sets the tone for the rest of the hotel. If the rooms are clean, guest are happy, complaints are few, front office personnel are happy and managers smile. Well maybe not quite as I have described, but it's nice to think that it could be that way. Now stop to think what kind of work the housekeepers aboard the ships have, especially in light of the trouble that the shipping liners have had recently. Allegedly sewage and debris floating in hallways and odors so bad that guests had to wear masks. Those housekeepers now have the duty of cleaning up all of that so as to leave the ship in such condition that this incident never happened.
Look at the clean up after a storm, floods and hurricanes, the amount of labor necessary to clean up so as to create the illusion it never happened. In 1975 Las Vegas was caught off guard as a flash flood inundated the strip, moved hundreds of cars from Caesars Palace parking lot over the main road (The Strip) water and mud ran in to the casinos and restaurants. You can imagine the mess that was created. Lobby's, casinos slot machines and stores all had to be stripped down and replaced so as to be able to open for business. Housekeepers, public area and engineers all working together 24 hours to get the businesses up and running. So the next time you are in a hotel stop to say thanks to the people that make your stay wonderful, and happy.
The Hotel Guy
About the Author
Alan Campbell has been in Las Vegas for over 30 years and has worked for the major strip hotels. He has spent some time in California, Los Angeles where he worked for the Radisson and Sheraton hotels. Alan considers the hospitality industry the best job in the world - it is the only place that both king's and Paupers will visit you.