The Case of Hotel Housekeeping Operations – Part 2

by Egi Gaisie

I promised my readers to look out for a conversation with an Executive Housekeeper in one of our top hotels along the same lines with the previous article.  Let’s delve into it straight away!

HOST: Before the pandemic, few people gave a second thought to sleeping in a bed that hundreds of others had slept in. Hardly anyone was concerned about touching door handles, faucets, and air condition and television remotes. But now I think people visiting hotels will be hyper-conscious of all the surfaces in a hotel room that could be hosts for the virus. What have been your observations with guests patronizing your hotel?

GUEST: Our guests are very much aware of the new ‘All safe’ re-opening covid-19 sanitary guidelines which has been put in place for Accor hotels.

Since most guests come through the Accor loyalty program, when they see our certified ‘All safe label’, frankly they seem comfortable when they observe our sanitary practices; following social distancing, strict mandatory face mask from pickup to the airport into the hotel premises, and our usage of PPEs.  Our Visual team (All safe officers) are around sanitizing all highest touch areas around the hotel every 5 to 10 minutes each day. We have an ‘All safe welcome pack’ for arriving guests which include the essentials e.g. mask, gloves, etc. We have the ‘room door all safe seal’ which is a seal to each guestroom. The seal is opened by guests themselves when they check-in, to re-assure them their rooms have been hygienically fumigated and safe for their stay.

HOST: This is a lot of effort. I hope other hotels will take some cues from this.

In certain jurisdictions, in the case of Singapore, their Tourist Board, the Singapore Tourism Board, developed a “new clean” auditing initiative which was launched to measure hotel compliance for cleanliness. The properties will be considered “SG Clean” if the hotels meet the standards.

In Malaysia, a similar version of the program is called “Clean & Safe Malaysia.”

It is not clear whether GTA (Ghana Tourism Authority) has a special program to certify the safety of hotels in respect to the coronavirus (as a national program). Would you think this would be necessary in Ghana? 

GUEST: Honestly, I haven’t heard of any such auditing initiative centered on hotel compliance yet, but to have this in place could be significant in these pandemic times.

As indicated earlier, within the ACCOR Group, we have stringent cleaning standards and operational procedures to ensure guest safety, hence the ALLSAFE Label. These sanitary guidelines are here to help all ACCOR operations align on a set of common standards and inspire best practices to be implement across board. Also, an auditing platform called I-Auditor, an inspection software, assigns all areas of the hotel, a mandatory checklist of cleanliness, protocols and practices. This is done by a mobile device, anywhere at any time, with pictorial evidence of each report and findings. An action plan is suggested for areas which show low scores to be rectified urgently.

Now imagine hotels in Ghana incorporating such an advanced auditing tool process in each region towards compliance of basic cleanliness, then now adding guidelines and protocols based on the recommendations of the Ghana Health Services Authority and Government bodies, for each region! We can strive for top certified sanitary, hygienic and cleanliness around our nation no matter which region we are in and to have such an auditing system in place will certainly improve our hotel sector in such a huge way.

HOST: Wow! That would be wonderful… I’m however reminded of years back in my student days, during an internship in a top hotel in housekeeping; we, the room attendants (then chamber maids) used handheld monitors to report the room status of the guestrooms we cleaned after cleaning each room. The report we keyed in went directly to our floor supervisors. I remember asking myself if such technology would ever be used in our hotels in Ghana. Perhaps we are slowly making some headway.

Anyway, do you think hotels should be left to demonstrate that their respective facilities are safe, clean and equipped to keep guests safe?

GUEST:  I don’t think hotels should be left alone to make such decisions for themselves. A registered regulatory auditing body is required to set guidelines on the standard protocol criteria for the required cleanliness and safe practices to be followed. There should be inspections, findings generated and action plans drawn to improve poor findings. Certification needs to be given. Also, this brings about competition among hotels to ensure best practices towards clean and safe hotels in the market.

HOST: I indicated in my previous article that housekeeping department ensures that hotels are AESTHETICALLY CLEAN however with the coronavirus; one is looking at the department ensuring that hotels are CLINICALLY CLEAN.  Kindly explain the difference between these two forms of cleanliness.

GUEST: As you know, the main aim in the hotel sector is to provide guests with clean, attractive, comfortable and welcoming surroundings that offer value for money; remember also that nothing sends a stronger message than cleanliness in hotels. You will find that no level of service, friendliness or glamour can equal the sensation a guest experiences upon entering a spotless, tidy and systematically arranged guestroom. When it comes to aesthetically clean, housekeeping provides a clean, comfortable, safe and an appealing environment; that is, maintenance is top notch, guestrooms do not only look clean; they feel clean and look attractive; public areas, back areas and its surroundings as well.

With clinically clean- it’s all about sanitization and hygiene; reviewing hygiene protocols, re-defining SOP’s (standard operating procedures) to adhere to sanitary demands of the times we are in, establishing and creating awareness of sanitization through effective training to stop the coronavirus from spreading further.

Appropriate chemicals for hygiene and sanitation must be used for daily cleaning, pest control and fumigation of both inside and outside of hotel premises to treat pests which may also bring additional challenges.

HOST:You have used certain common words, but let’s clarify them before we dig deeper into our discussion. How would you distinguish between the following: cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing, in respect to hotel housekeeping activities?

GUEST: In ‘cleaning’ we use chemical agents and water to reduce the quantity of germs, and we also remove dirt and impurities on the surface. It involves the following tasks:

  • Wear disposable gloves to clean
  • Clean surfaces using cleaning chemical agent and water
  • Daily cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
  • Daily use of tools and equipment e.g., shampooing scrubbing of carpets, tiles, vacuuming, polishing wooden floors
  • Making of beds, changing linen, mopping the floor, scrubbing the vanity sink, scrubbing the showers and bath tub.
  • Surfaces and objects in public places should be cleaned before each use.
  • Cleaning of High touch surfaces include:
    • Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces.

We disinfect with Johnson Diversey disinfectant chemical which fights against SAR’s –CoV-2external icon, the virus that causes COVID 19.

Training is done prior to ensure safe and effective use.

The procedure we use follows:

  • Wear gloves and change after each task shift
  • Disinfect tools at the start and end of each day (we come in contact with hands at the start and end of each working day e.g. Vacuum cleaners, trolleys especially their handles and product bottles
  • Adapt time in room cleaning
  • Avoid assigning rooms for 24 hours minimum between each stay in case of suspected cases covid-19
  • Air the room, put on clean gloves washed in between each room clean
  • Spray don’t wipe all bathroom hard surfaces with approved disinfect cleaner-toilets, sinks, etc, and dust, clean and disinfect all hard surfaces
  • Removal of non-essential items in guestrooms e.g. pens, flyers, room directory, decorative cushions, etc.
  • Room amenities removed and upon request, minibar emptied.
  • Disinfecting- of KEY High touch surfaces, these include:
    • Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

Sanitizing (being hygienic) housekeeping practices involve:

  • Follow PPE recommendations
    • Frequent handwashing (20 seconds)
    • Staff training on new sanitizing practices
    • Organize spaces, staff to walk alone or 1m minimum distance, floor markings to organize flows or alternative visible distancing system e.g. easels and minimum sharing tools with other staff.
    • Guests are given access to medical professional
    • Guests provided with individual sanitizer, wipes and mask at arrival or on request.
    • Room cleaning services-clearly communicate to guest room has been extra cleaned using a door seal sticker.
    • Repeat stay-room cleaning every day, if not once every 2 days
    • Turndown services temporarily suspended.
    • clean linen treatment-separate always dirty linen, retain protective plastic and distribute daily to avoid stockpiling
    • dirty linen treatment- remove with minimal agitation, removed linen to be packed away immediately and separately, wash/launder the pillowcases and, mattress protector after each stay
    • Temperature control system available taken at hotel entrance
    • Social distancing enforced in all common areas.
    • Sanitizer provided in key public areas e.g. front office, elevators, restaurant, toilets, and guest floors, meet and dine areas, etc.
    • Removal of electric hand-driers to avoid spread of any virus.
    • Display information about hygiene procedures in hotel and handwashing instructions.
    • Pedal operated closed waste bins are recommended in both public areas and rooms.

HOST: This is a whole discourse to reflect on and to carry out an assessment in our respective hotels! My readers with interest in housekeeping practices should be able to assess their current practices with these. Thank you.

NOTE: Considering the volume of information we have been given, this was the best place to break this conversation to continue next week. Thank you.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this presentation are solely those of the presenter and intended for educational purposes only.

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1 comment

Pat A Boadu-Darko October 8, 2020 - 9:30 am

A rare insight into Hotel Housekeeping operations!
I agree. In these ‘covid times’, hotels should not be left to determune their own ‘peak of Health and Safety’ practices.
The authority/board responsible for the tourism industry should set the highest ‘peak’for this and have a robust system for monitoring to ensure that individual hotels climb to the topmost of this ‘peak.’


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