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Vision Linens offer expert advice on some of the housekeeping challenges during the Christmas and New Year holidays
For many the holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, however for the housekeeping industry in the United Kingdom, it’s also a time of extra hours, continuous back-to-back changeovers and potentially missing the turkey dinner! As households and businesses welcome a surge of guests during the Christmas and New Year period, the housekeeping sector has to work even harder to ensure a seamless experience for all. At Vision Linens, our products are designed to support the industry through busy periods and quick changeovers, but other than increased levels of laundry, what are the challenges unique to the housekeepers’ Christmas and New Year, and what are the solutions that housekeepers use to ease the strain?
The Surge in Short-Term Stays
The Christmas season brings a remarkable surge in short-term stays, encompassing guests in hotels, holiday rentals, and even friends and family members visiting for a few days. According to a recent report by VisitBritain, this increase can be as high as 10 per cent compared to other months. While this represents a fantastic business opportunity for the housekeeping industry, it also introduces some challenges. To handle this influx effectively, housekeeping needs to employ some cutting-edge scheduling and planning tools that account for the increased demand during the holidays or rely on incredible housekeepers who can track and monitor every room available, every hour working and every sheet freshly laundered. In addition to scheduling and planning rooms, the numbers of housekeeping staff need managing, so offering flexible work hours and cross-training staff also provides the necessary agility to adapt to the changing demands.
Tight Schedules and High Expectations
During the holiday season, the expectations of guests soar to new heights. They anticipate impeccable cleanliness, festive decorations, and swift service. Meeting these expectations can be a significant stress for housekeepers, as the pressure to maintain high standards while dealing with tight schedules intensifies. A top tip from the industry is to set clear expectations with guests regarding service times and housekeeping schedules during their visit. Emphasise transparency in communication. If budget allows, investing in advanced cleaning technologies and tools can also help housekeepers work more efficiently without compromising on the quality of service.
One of the most pressing challenges that housekeeping businesses face during the holiday rush is staffing. Many employees understandably take time off to spend with their families, while others face increased workloads due to the heightened demand. This often leads to a reliance on temporary staff, which can impact the consistency and quality of housekeeping services. To address staffing challenges, housekeeping teams need to adopt a proactive approach. Building a robust pool of temporary workers well in advance of the holiday season can mitigate this issue. For housekeeping managers, establishing a reliable network of freelancers or part-time workers who can step in during peak times is essential. To maintain high standards of service, especially during the hectic Christmas season, ongoing training and development are essential. Housekeeping staff should be well-versed in the latest cleaning techniques, safety protocols, and guest interactions, and investing in their professional growth can lead to improved commitment and performance. Housekeepers who allocate resources for regular training sessions and skill development workshops for their housekeeping team really see the benefits, especially during the holiday rush. Another tip that housekeepers share that helps deal with staffing pressures is inter-department collaboration. Housekeepers agree that working in tandem with front desk staff, maintenance teams, and food and beverage departments helps ensure a seamless experience for guests. This includes regular meetings and updates between departments which can help address any issues promptly.
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainability in housekeeping. However, the Christmas period can put extra strain on how the hospitality industry can maintain sustainability given increased resource consumption for festive decorations and lighting, additional laundry, and increased use of cleaning products. As we know, sustainability should be a year-round commitment. Finding ways to celebrate the holidays while minimising environmental impact is crucial. This could involve using energy-efficient lighting for decorations and minimising waste through recycling and composting. Another top solution is to incorporate sustainability practices into the guest experience through education and engagement. Informing guests about your commitment to environmental responsibility and involving them in your efforts can create a sense of shared responsibility and encourage eco-friendly behaviours, including recycling the towels!
Guest Engagement and Feedback
An often overlooked aspect of addressing housekeeping challenges during the Christmas period is guest engagement. Encouraging open communication with guests can significantly enhance their experience. Requesting feedback on cleanliness and service quality and actively addressing any concerns can lead to improved guest satisfaction. Feedback can be a worrying process but housekeepers who implement a robust guest feedback system receive valuable insights. There are lots of ways this can be done from utilising technology for guest surveys and reviews to engaging with guests on social media to promote positive feedback and showcase your commitment to excellent service, especially during the festive season.