Many UKHA members may not have met up face to face to both socialise and share knowledge in recent months, but the power and versatility of the internet has kept many in touch. Best of all has been the series of three Zoom meetings overseen by association stalwarts and joined by both working housekeepers and associate members who are experts in various fields. The first webinar was held in July with Jo Simovic, chief operating officer at Umbrella Training Ltd, leading the panellists through topics and questions raised by those around the UK – and beyond – Zooming in to both gain expert insights and share their own experiences.
At the centre of all this was the launch of the UKHA Housekeeping COVID-19 Secure Toolkit in partnership with Umbrella Training. The toolkit and checklist, an essential guide covering an immense list of issues housekeepers face as they bid to safely welcome back guests, was the result of too many hours to count of hard ‘brain work’ and has become an essential download for members from the UKHA website.
The latest webinar covered a host of topics housekeepers had experienced since reopening, with some honest appraisals of the current situation. Both UKHA national chair Lorraine Dale and Simovic urged senior housekeepers to show their leadership skills and make sure their voices were heard at boardroom level when budgets were being discussed to balance the books of properties and hotel groups. After all, there will be no revenue if the cutbacks on housekeeping lead to as much as a COVID ‘scare’. Panellists included Joanne Taylor- Stagg, general manager of The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences in London, alongside Juris Dubrovskis, Athenaeum executive housekeeper, Simon Maguire, managing director of Luxury Family Hotels, and Yasin Sharrif, managing director of Titan Protection, the disinfection service experts.
The Athenaeum pair revealed how having remained opened right through lockdown they had built their own set of protocols from NHS and UKHA guidance. This also meant removing some procedures and as they watched staff move from uncertainty to more confidence felt this would stand them in good stead as their careers progressed. Some long-term resident guests were far more nervous, appearing scared of strangers and wanted only to see staff they knew well. Meanwhile part of the growth in confidence of staff came through having NHS keyworkers at the Edwardian townhouses. “They gave us the confidence and we learnt from them,” said Taylor-Stagg.
Maguire said: “My admiration goes out to the five head housekeepers in the group, who have been fantastic throughout.” His hotels were fully booked once the staycation trend took off, and there were no significant problems as, he felt, the very first guests were the least ‘risk-averse’ people keen to return to as normal an experience as possible.
Sharrif took those attending through the importance of using the correct disinfection chemicals and their residual efficacy included working when dry. He stressed that this was vital if you outsourced such services and that disinfection must have a tangible plan which goes hand in hand with the regular cleaning plan.
We’re only giving you a taster here. The whole session covered everything from garbage disposal, fogging and ozone to Lorraine Dale providing a behind the scenes look at how the reopening of Windsor Castle was handled. UKHA members can download the webinars from ukha.co.uk.
The next National Zoom Get Together is on 30 September and you can register to attend via the website or recommend a speaker topic to firstname.lastname@example.org.