Meeting guest expectations for cleanliness and proactively communicating before arrival are critical drivers to your guest’s hotel experience. Especially now in the post-COVID19 age. But before we can expect to have happy guests, we need to have happy employees who are willing to go back to work. They need to learn all new operating procedures, do more with less, and put themselves at risk. Yes, guest communication is important, but it must come on the heels of proactively communicating with employees as well.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes for a moment. The hotel is reopening. No, it’s still closed. Wait … it’s reopening again … tentatively. Spikes in COVID-19 are shifting as the virus keeps moving. This economic roller coaster is wreaking havoc with employees’ emotions and their livelihoods, and it’s making them confused, stressed, and maybe even a bit angry. The only way to keep your teams calm and motivated to work amidst this new normal, is through digital communications. This is not the time for your human resources team to call workers in hopes of connecting. Company email addresses for those who don’t sit behind a desk either don’t exist or are barely used. Tools like Beekeeper are proving to be the most viable way for managers to communicate instantly, train their people, and provide reference materials and standard operating procedure (SOP) guidelines that are easily accessible.
Like it or not, your employees need to learn how to wear many hats. Digital training tools like webcasts and videos are making it extremely easy for your employees to grasp new cleaning procedures quickly across all guest touch points. Housekeeping is the biggest challenge to improving your guest’s hotel experience. Most of the tasks that were once routine are now new and they are constantly evolving; too many changes too often can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned housekeeper. But, skipping one step or failing to disinfect every surface no matter how small can result in illness or worse, re-closing of the hotel. It’s critical that your employees don’t become immune to these “extra” precautions as it all boils down to improving your guest’s hotel experience.
So how do you make the new normal procedures of today easier and how do they hold workers accountable for compliance?
The answer is simple: Digital Checklists.
Digital checklists make the lives of housekeepers, supervisors and managers easier on many levels. They free up time, offer visibility into the cleaning status of state-regulated common areas, provide an audit trail of tasks assigned/completed, and deliver a quick return on owner investment. Using Beekeeper, your employees can follow a checklist within a mobile app while managers use the web to customize and edit SOPs, revise disinfecting and sanitizing guidelines, and assign/verify that tasks and other procedures are being adhered to. It’s impossible for staff to skip steps, as Task A on a digital checklist will need to be completed before Task B can begin. If workers forget how to perform a chore, step-by-step digital instructions can be accessed instantly via Beekeeper.
By allowing your employees to use tech, you can deliver the right SOP to the right worker at the right time to guarantee the right result while simultaneously freeing up time for supervisors who can then spend more time elevating the guest’s hotel experience. For example, getting all rooms from dirty to clean to ready for check-in at a 300-room hotel takes approximately 25,000 workflows per month when managed by pen and paper. Let’s say a housekeeping supervisor using pen and paper works eight hours a day, five days a week. He or she will walk seven kilometres a day just checking to see if rooms are ready! At $15 per hour, the hotel is paying a $9,000 per supervisor for just walking around, checking if rooms are ready, and linking updates to the property-management system. That’s a lot of money to dish out just to get room status information, especially when a property will rely on multiple supervisors simultaneously. This is not an effective use of capital in today’s economy where cost savings are critical and every penny counts. Those same workflows can be affordably managed today via an easy-to-use integrated digital platform that guarantees greater efficiency and helps improve worker performance using better information, data, and artificial intelligence.
Even in normal times, engagement is a difficult thing (Gallup reports only 30% of employees are engaged); today it is harder than ever. So, it is even more important today than in normal times that hoteliers work hard to engage every single one of their employees. To do so, workers must understand why they need to follow the stringent SOPs; knowing that the work they are doing is important will make them more willing to contribute to the success of the company.
The most critical component of engagement is getting employees to take pride in their work and in the company itself. Communication around company values, initiatives, and accomplishments makes employees feel part of something important, something with a social conscience. It is also important to give employees a voice to raise concerns so you can address issues early. Tools like Beekeeper let your managers have transparent communication and also recognize their team in front of everyone, in a timely manner, so each person feels connected to their colleagues and the company. Engaged employees are more likely to stick around through recovery and give 100% of the effort that is required of them.
Don’t forget, effective communication goes both ways. Listening to your employees not only boosts engagement, but it is good for business. Many of the protocols developed for reopening were likely devised in the corporate office long before guests returned. As they come back, you need to validate that the new SOPs are providing safety while ensuring a memorable guest experience. It’s these workers who are interacting with guests, so hearing their suggestions is invaluable. Leveraging tools to encourage your employees to bring ideas on how to improve guest hotel experience across the board.
You were already taking cleanliness very seriously before COVID-19. Now it’s time to take cleanliness, guest safety and their hotel experience to the next level. To do that, you will need to adopt digital technologies that will help employees engage with the hotel and each other better. When you take care of your employees, they will take care of your guests.