As the hotel experience has evolved, technology has taken on a growing role in all aspects of operations. The impact of these technologies can be seen in the quality of both the associate and guest-facing experience.
And, when it comes to housekeeping specifically: “Technology provides a level of efficiency that didn’t exist before,” explains Jim Stewart, director of Human Resources, Chelsea Hotel Toronto. On the other side of the coin he adds, “In the case of electrostatic sprayers, it provides a sense of comfort for our guests, knowing their rooms are clean and disinfected.”
When it comes to cleaning technology, automation is top of mind, which can be partially attributed to ongoing labour challenges.
“As we’ve started to see consumers coming back and expecting daily housekeeping service, there’s just not enough people to do all of the roles that need to be done and still maintain that level of cleanliness that has now become the standard of expectations,” says Shannon Hall, vice president, Sales & Marketing, Dustbane Products Ltd.
As a result, equipment such as sweepers and auto-scrubbers have been increasingly employed, particularly for large public areas and conference spaces. “We’re seeing more and more hotels moving to a sweeper that can cover that same square footage in a fifth of the time [of an upright vacuum], allowing housekeeping staff to get back to some of the other chores that they need to do,” Hall explains.
She also highlights micro scrubbers, such as the Doodle Scrub, as seeing increasing adoption. This equipment allows staff to achieve a deep clean in compact spaces in a fraction of the time.
Introducing these kinds of technologies can reduce friction in completing tasks and alleviate or eliminate common pain points, which improves the quality of team members’ on-the-job experience. Further, the more efficient and effective housekeeping operations are, the more they can seamlessly exist within the background of a guest’s stay.
Importantly, Hall also notes that using equipment that partially automates some of the most strenuous housekeeping tasks helps reduce physical strain and risk of injury in addition to cutting down the time needed to complete the task.
There are also those taking automation to a greater extreme. E-Pro Bot Inc., which is the Canadian distributor for KEENON Robotics, offers the M2 disinfection robot, which can be dispatched during the off hours to sanitize rooms and spaces, such as event spaces and activity centres.
Greg Staley, general manager of E-Pro Bot Inc., shares that these units, which feature both an ultrasonic dry mist and UV light functions, are being installed in senior-living centres and can also be found in airports in Europe and Asia. The spray disinfection modules’ spray effect meets the Disinfection Technical Specification, and boasts an up to 99.9-per-cent kill rate for airborne bacteria, while the UV light modules meet GB 19258 specifications for ultraviolet germicidal lamps and the Technical Specification for Disinfection.
Staley points to common areas that shut down at night, such as a hotel’s gym, as key areas that could benefit from the M2’s UV sterilization. And, he notes, “[Because] UV lights are dangerous, there’s all kinds of sensors on the robot, so if any movement is detected [in a space], the light will shut down.”
Beyond cleaning, scheduling and communication technologies also play a significant role in streamlining housekeeping operations.
The Chelsea Hotel Toronto leverages both of these, using the StayPlease communication system to connect hotel departments and communicate tasks and guest requests. The team also leverages the OPERA property management system (PMS) to “create room attendants daily assignments, as well as monitor room status and changes in room status,” Stewart explains. “Technology makes communication faster and easier. We can change room status, assign tasks/make a request and communicate with other users from a central location.”
However, Stewart is sure to note than having reliable backups in place in the event communication technology fails is important to consider. “If we have systems failures, we have radios as a back up,” he explains when discussing the StayPlease communication system. “Efficiency makes a workplace flow better, but we are always prepared to do things manually if need be.”
BY DANIELLE SCHALK