TORONTO — Hosted and presented by Hotelier magazine, in partnership with Ecolab, the second annual Housekeeping Forum drew more than 120 hotel housekeeping professionals to One King West Hotel & Residences in Toronto for an information-packed day.
The event, sponsored by Miele Professional, Canadian Hotel Supply and HD Supply Hospitality Solutions, focused on what it takes to run a successful housekeeping department — from ensuring staff have the latest tools and technology to do their jobs properly, to understanding the latest trends in cleaning methods, there’s much work to do to keep the department productive, efficient and happy.
The day kicked off with High-tech Housekeeping, a panel discussion led by Hotelier managing editor Amy Bostock around new trends in housekeeping technology. Brendan Gibney, senior director, Franchise Operations, Choice Hotels Canada; Bill Nash, Diversey Care, Canada at Sealed Air Corporation – Sealed Air Corporation; Jason Mcleish, Canadian Sales Director, Amadeus Hospitality; and Odette Foster, Housekeeping Manager at The Hazelton Hotel offered insight into what new technology is available and what the housekeeping department has on its technology wish list.
Next up, Hotelier editor and publisher Rosanna Caira led a lively discussion around Keeping the Housekeeping Department Happy: Recruiting, Retaining and Remuneration. Leading industry experts Bill Pallett, president, WJ Pallet & Associates; Lis Pimental, president, Unite Here, Local 75; Kevin Porter, GM, Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites; and Rahul Singh Director of Housekeeping, Royal York Hotel shared their knowledge of where today’s supply of housekeepers is coming from, the training and development that keeps them knowledgeable and current and the pay scales that keep them motivated.
“There’s real hope and possibilities in this industry,” said Pimental. “These are good jobs that can lift up a community.”
The morning sessions wrapped up with a look at risk management in hotels and the role of the housekeeping department in keeping guests safe and secure. Graeme McIntosh, director of Business Development – Risk Solutions Inc.; Kenny Gibson, president, Sunray Group; David Laks, vice-president, Risk Control Services Manager – Eastern Canada at HUB International; and Kim Greasley, director of Housekeeping, The Hazelton Hotel addressed some of the most common risks at hotels — including fire, cyber-threats and safety/security protocols — and offered training solutions for the housekeeping department while defining its role in the hotel’s overall risk-management plan.
Attendees were also treated to a look at some of the newest trends in housekeeping apparel by CMI Uniforms (representing Bragard Uniforms) and, during the lunch break, were able to engage with a number of exhibitors, including Canadian Hotel Supply, Coinamatic, Ecolab, Guest Supply Canada, HD Supply, Miele, Sealed Air Diversey, Veritiv, Protect-a-bed and George Courey.
The afternoon was devoted to a challenges-and-opportunities workshop led by Bill Pallett. Attendees broke off into groups and discussed problems and solutions to today’s most pressing housekeeping department concerns. Each table was presented with a specific challenge and group leaders facilitated an interactive session before presenting solutions back to the group.
The highly anticipated awards presentations closed off the day, with Rahul Singh, director of Housekeeping at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto taking home the coveted Executive Housekeeper of the Year Award. Jaya Jameela from Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel was named Junior Room Attendant of the Year.