Why Housekeeping Needs a Tech Makeover

NEW YORK—Hotel housekeeping needs a makeover, according to Alex Shashou, president of Alice. Why, you ask? As a major part of hotel operations, there’s still much room for improvement.

“It’s the number-one cost center in most hotels, so even small tweaks to efficiency can add up to huge cost savings in a relatively short period of time,” said Shashou.

Shashou drilled down why hoteliers need to prioritize technology for one of the largest hotel departments. “In other industries, there’s a term used called an operational dashboard, and that broadly describes a view of how a team is performing at any given time. In hotels where technology hasn’t been deployed, that view is incomplete,” he said.

“On-demand information requires management to seek out people via radio or in person; adding steps in the process that aren’t necessary can lead to gaps, delays, misinterpretations and more. Operational efficiency technology tackles that incomplete information head on, in the moment, and creates a trail of accountability throughout the organization,” he said.

There’s an old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” and, in some cases, hoteliers may focus more attention on guest-facing roles as these departments can positively impact the stay. However, when housekeeping isn’t efficient, it’s noticeable and could negatively affect the guest experience and the hotel’s bottom line.

“Hoteliers are some of the most resilient, successful businesspeople in any industry you can think of. But too often, hoteliers live in a reactive world, responding to guests and one another,” he said. “There are always ways to get by and survive, but given the pressures we’re seeing in home-sharing, thriving is going to require attention to every advantage they can get.”

For hoteliers looking to overhaul their housekeeping technology, Shashou recommends learning how systems interact.

“It’s easy to simply choose what your organization is used to, and just bolt on the next new thing,” he said. “But how will those systems work when facilities and departments need to seamlessly pass information to one another? Do they play nice with other dependencies, like your PMS? What is the impact of technology on guest satisfaction? What is the impact on team satisfaction? Any technology provider should treat you as a business partner with your interests at heart, rather than just a customer who’s part of their quota.”

At Alice, hospitality is part of the DNA. Shashou attributed the technology provider’s success to the requirement that all of its customer success staff come from hotel operations themselves.

“We demand that our staff members truly understand the nature of a hotelier’s business, from a personal and professional basis, so that we can work with customers to customize the best possible use of our products,” he said.

Alice is working to further assist hoteliers in streamlining housekeeping operations, with beta customers participating in a live test of the company’s new housekeeping module. “Operational metrics that are already seeing marked improvement include assignment board setup, staff efficiency, communication improvements and reporting,” he said. “We are very excited about the early results and are really looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned in the coming months.”