The hospitality business has many unsung heroes, and none are more crucial – or get as little appreciation – as housekeepers. Hotels, spas, and other guest-serving facilities depend on a team of highly-trained and dedicated housekeeping staff to keep rooms and public areas in tip-top shape.
A smaller spa may only have one or two housekeepers, while a large hotel might have 50 or more cleaning professionals, including supervisors and managers.
Fortunately, it’s time to celebrate housekeepers officially this September. September 10, 2017 marks the beginning of International Housekeeping Appreciation Week. For some ideas on how to celebrate Housekeeping Week, we talked with Vesna Derviskadic, Director of Housekeeping at Mandarin Oriental, New York, a hotel dedicated to the finest in hospitality (and spotless rooms).
Mandarin Oriental, New York employs 96 housekeeping colleagues (as they are called there), including managers and coordinators. Mandarin Oriental, New York certainly seems to know how to appreciate their housekeeping staff – 90% have been with the hotel for more than 10 years.
How Mandarin Oriental does Housekeeping Week
Mandarin Oriental, New York according to Vesna, takes Housekeeping Week very seriously. “We have a weeklong celebration for our housekeeping colleagues. We organize raffles and in order to win, colleagues participate in activities related to room standards, the history of our brand and different cleaning procedures.
We also organize a team breakfast or dinner. Our offices are decorated with 26 flags to represent the different nationalities that we have in our department. We invite other departments to come and work with our staff for an hour or two and learn about the service that we provide as well. Additionally, we invite guest speakers in between shifts from other departments to talk about future projects. The week concludes with an ice cream party and each colleague is given a rose.
Every year we try to do something different based on feedback that we receive from our staff. In general, the goal is to show appreciation for their passion and hard work and dedication to providing exceptional guest experiences.”
Mandarin Oriental, New York housekeepers are celebrated for going above and beyond
The hotel calls these MOWow moments.
“Our MOWow moments are moments of surprise and delight when a colleague has truly gone above and beyond and more than exceeded guest expectations. All colleagues are encouraged to provide MOWow moments for guests and share with our team. The colleagues are recognized for their hard work and the moment is shared with all hotel colleagues.
For example, a guest requested packing service prior to his departure. The guest and the assigned Housekeeping colleague chatted, and the guest revealed that he had missed out on having a traditional New York City hot dog. Our colleague noted that he loves hot dogs as well and usually goes to the vendors right by the park.
Once our colleague concluded the packing, he ran down to Central Park and purchased two hot dogs for the guest and delivered them to the room before his departure. The guest was completely thrilled and truly touched.”
Tips for celebrating Housekeeping Week
Publicly acknowledge your staff for going above and beyond. Housekeeping is great at staying behind the scenes – it’s your job to make sure they are recognized. Just as the Mandarin Oriental, New York does, invite people from other departments to celebrate housekeepers.
Physical stress relief. The average housekeeper may have to clean up to 15 rooms a day. Offering chair massages at the hotel is a great way to help inevitable back and neck pain that comes with the job. Yoga, running, and stretching exercises are other good ways to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility for happier, healthier employees.
Personal gifts. Mandarin Oriental, New York gives roses to its housekeeping staff, while other employers prefer scarves, wallets, and other memorable and useful swag items. A little something to show that you care.
Change it up. Housekeeping Week events are a great way to increase the retention of hospitality staffers. Mix it up for these loyal employees so they have a new twist on Housekeeping Week to look forward to every year.
Related: Relaxing in Hotels: How to (Really) Unwind On Your Next Trip
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.