Ultimate Housekeeping Operations Management Guide [+ Checklists]

Published on:
August 18, 2023
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The success of your housekeeping practices directly impact the success of your hotel. If your guest rooms aren’t properly cleaned, it puts not only your property’s reputation in danger—it also puts your bottom line in jeopardy.

According to leading industry professionals, even a single negative review can lose your hotel close to 30 guests. And since modern travelers report that cleanliness is the most important factor in choosing where they’ll stay, your housekeeping operations are a cornerstone of guest satisfaction at your hotel. 

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A couple of key ways you can maintain housekeeping consistency and prevent negative guest experiences is by following housekeeping management best practices and streamlining your hotel’s housekeeping operations. Having proper plans and processes in place to aid in risk prevention and maintain consistent cleanliness across your property goes a long way toward ensuring guest satisfaction and managing your hotel’s reputation. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of housekeeping management, why it’s so important, the ins and outs of staffing and staff management, the importance of checklists, and the benefits of utilizing a digital management solution. 

To continue your learning, check out our comprehensive Hotel Operations Management Guide.

What is housekeeping management

The housekeeping management team is responsible for managing and maintaining all operations of the housekeeping department. The hierarchy of a housekeeping department’s organizational chart will look a little different from property to property, depending on the size of the operation and the general housekeeping needs of the hotel. But most of the time, hotels will have a housekeeping manager, an executive housekeeper, an assistant executive housekeeper, and various housekeeping supervisors for different segments of the department.

Some segments or different areas of a housekeeping department might include: 

  • Linens/Uniform Supervisor
  • Desk Control Supervisor
  • Floor Supervisor 
  • Night Supervisor 
  • Public Area Supervisor 
  • Horticultural Supervisor 
  • Guestroom Supervisor 

An example of this structure might be that your housekeeping operations include a segment that handles public areas or linens specifically. For these segments, in addition to the executive housekeeping team, you may also have a Public Area Supervisor and a Laundry/Linens Supervisor to help delegate those areas of work. While your directors and executives oversee and manage the high-level operations of housekeeping across the property, individual-level supervisors will handle the details of specific operational segments and report that information up to the executive suite. 

The housekeeping manager will be responsible for delegating tasks to both executives and supervisors, overseeing productivity and consistency, maintaining organization and more. Some other key aspects of a housekeeping manager’s role include: 

  • Hiring and firing within the housekeeping department 
  • Ensuring the availability of necessary tools and cleaning supplies
  • Inventory management such as linens and towels, toiletries, etc. 
  • Optimizing labor by delegating responsibilities and tracking progress

Each level of housekeeping operations is crucial to maintaining efficiency and streamlining productivity—and the way to organize and effectively utilize each area of operations is to go in with a clear housekeeping management plan. 

Why is housekeeping management important?

Housekeeping practices are often closely tied with an organization’s safety culture—so, first and foremost, housekeeping management is critical to the health and safety of everyone who comes through the doors of your hotel. But housekeeping management is important for a multitude of reasons. Structuring your housekeeping operations and planning processes effectively reduces waste, increases efficiency, and aids in achieving and maintaining quality and brand standards across single properties and entire portfolios. 

Housekeeping Manager using Digital System
Housekeeping Manager using Digital System

Inefficient labor practices can lead to significant losses of time and money across your operation. Ineffective cleaning methods can cause wasted inventory and safety risks to both guests and staff. Slow housekeeping turnaround times can directly affect a guest’s travel timeline too, causing guest satisfaction and hotel reputation to suffer. This is where digital housekeeping management systems, like Xenia, come in. By helping to assign, track and measure housekeeping tasks, managers can improve operations and save money.

Housekeeping is one of the most frequent guest touchpoints. The cleanliness of guest-centered spaces is often their first impression of your property. Beyond that, when a guest needs additional towels or toiletries or requests turndown service, it’s the housekeeping team that they’ll interact with. Cleanliness is essentially at the core of guest satisfaction: and housekeeping is the catalyst, directly delivering guest experience. 

How many housekeepers per room do hotels need?

On average, over the course of a typical, eight-hour shift, a housekeeper will clean between 10 - 15 rooms per day. At some hotels, they’ll clean as many as 30 rooms per day. The amount of housekeepers per room your hotel needs will vary depending on available staff, the amount of part-time staff vs. full-time staff you have, the size of hotel rooms, housekeeping staffing needs for public areas and groundskeeping, and more. 

Industry recommendations suggest that for every 10 rooms in a three-star hotel the maximum number of staff needed is eight—in a four-star hotel the suggestion is twelve, and in a five-star hotel: twenty. Ultimately, the size of your housekeeping team depends on your operational needs, your organization’s brand and quality standards and your budgetary requirements. 

How many hours can housekeepers work per shift?

Generally, housekeepers work in shifts that are similar to an average 9 to 5 work schedule. They’ll often work in 8 - 10 hour shifts, cleaning anywhere between 10 - 15 rooms per shift, with a 30 minute break factored in. A maximum shift could be up to 12 hours, but to prevent injury and burnout in such a physically demanding job that produces such a high churn rate, it’s better to alternate staff and keep shifts shorter on average. 

How much should a housekeeper get paid hourly?

The average hourly rate for a housekeeper in the United States is $13/hour and can fall anywhere between $12 and $15 per hour. In more urban areas the pay rate will generally be higher. Salary.com reports that in Los Angeles, California for example, the average rate is closer to the high end of that range at $15/hour and can go as high as $18/hour depending on the hotel, while in a more rural area like Columbia, Tennessee the average is closer to $11.50/hour, below the national median. 

But these rates vary even more depending on where they’re being tracked and reported, and whether or not tips are being factored in. Tammy La Gorce from the New York Times News Service found in research that “a housekeeper in a New York City hotel can expect to make an average of $29.41 an hour, while one in Charlotte, North Carolina, might earn an average of $10 an hour.” That’s why, when hiring, it’s important to take a look at a variety of sources to find the average rates for housekeepers in your area and adjust your rates accordingly. 

Oftentimes housekeepers will make additional income from guest tips, but that isn’t always the case depending on the type of hotel, the cost of accommodations, and the length of guest stays. Etip research found that “only about 27% people tip all the time, 31% never do, and 42% sometimes tip.” Because of this, when guests do leave a tip, the average tip range varies pretty drastically. Housekeepers might see varies between $1 and $5 a night in tips. But general tip etiquette for housekeeping suggests that between $3 and $5 a night is the ideal tip guests should leave for satisfactory housekeeping services. 

Experts interviewed by HuffPost news pointed out the differences in tips at hotel types, suggesting that, while the general guideline for tips is $3 to $5 a day, at a five-star hotel located in high-rent areas and large cities such as New York, or Los Angeles, guests should expect to tip $5 to $10 per day. That doesn’t mean housekeepers can consistently expect to make these tips, but it does mean that pay rates and average tips at your property should be factored into your hiring plan, especially if your guests are good about tipping your team.

How to structure and train housekeeping teams

Housekeeping teams should be structured in order of responsibility, shift, and leadership hierarchy. Managers and executives will oversee supervisors, supervisors will oversee staff in individual department segments. Managers often prioritize the onboarding and training of housekeeping team members by level of necessary supervision. 

Housekeeping Department Organizational Chart
Housekeeping Department Organizational Chart

Make sure you’ve trained your executives and team supervisors appropriately in order for them to manage direct reports. From there, you can prioritize training for housekeeping staff depending on their skill level and subject-matter expertise. Some team members may require more general training, while others may require more technical or in-depth training to use specific machinery, tools, or cleaning chemicals. 

Training should be an ongoing initiative at your property to ensure that housekeepers are maintaining consistency and following necessary protocols. You can determine the level of ongoing training needed by regularly analyzing team performance. 

How to measure housekeeping performance

You can keep track of housekeeping performance at your property in a variety of ways. One of the best ways is by utilizing standardized checklists for housekeeping processes. Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) and maintaining their adherence through accessible checklists keeps everyone on the same page and creates a clear paper trail for logging housekeeping procedures and understanding what’s working, where there’s room for improvement, and how you can further optimize operations. 

Xenia Housekeeping Task Management
Xenia Housekeeping Task Management

Digital task tracking is another great way to understand and analyze housekeeping performance. You can even use solutions such as Xenia that provide digital checklist features so your team can complete cleaning and inspections checklists on the go directly from their individual mobile devices. From there, those checklists are automatically logged within a digital system where they can be uploaded into customizable reports and examined in depth to help you spot patterns with assets, failed inspection items, and more. 

Additionally, you can regularly check the online reviews and complaints issued by guests. This can help you to understand if guests are dissatisfied with your property’s cleanliness practices, giving you a better understanding of where your housekeeping team might be falling short. 

Essential housekeeping checklists for hoteliers

You can utilize housekeeping checklists for a variety of procedures at your property. Some essential checklists we recommend using include the following: 

Room Cleaning Checklist 

A room cleaning checklist ensures your housekeepers are maintaining quality and cleanliness standards for every guestroom on the property. Room cleaning checklists include cleaning tasks such as sanitizing surfaces, vacuuming the carpets and rugs, stripping and remaking bedding, dusting decorations and furnishings, and mopping hard floors, amongst other things. This checklist helps ensure consistency across your property. 

Bathroom Cleaning Checklist 

A bathroom cleaning checklist helps you get specific about cleaning expectations for restroom spaces. This checklist could include tasks like wiping and sanitizing countertops, cleaning out the bathtub or shower, replacing soiled towels and used toiletries, checking drains and faucets, ensuring toilet functionality, and more. 

Lobby Cleaning Checklist 

The lobby of your hotel is typically the very first impression your guest has of your property—that’s why it’s crucial to make sure it’s clean and inviting. A Lobby cleaning checklist includes things like mopping hard floors, vacuuming rugs and carpets, dusting furnishings, wiping desks and hard surfaces, replacing publicly used toiletries such as tissue paper and hand sanitizer pumps, and more. 

Laundry Management Checklist 

A laundry management checklist helps you to manage laundry operations at your property. Laundry can be a whole operation in and of itself, so it’s important to outline necessary procedures for staff so everyone stays on the same page to maintain efficiency. A Laundry management checklist may include tasks such as collecting bedding and linens, sorting bedding and linens, transporting laundry to the appropriate facility for cleaning, cleaning and folding bedding and linens, and more. 

Benefits of Housekeeping Management Software

A housekeeping management software can make operations oversight simpler, reduce miscommunication, and streamline productivity in a multitude of ways. A user-friendly digital operations solution like Xenia has robust task management and communication tools for any use case while being simple enough for anyone to use—and quick to adopt and implement. 

Xenia’s user assignment features allow you to instantly see who’s actively clocked in and available for work so you can easily assign them to housekeeping tasks whether you’re in the office or across the property. And with digital checklists housed in one simple, accessible application, your entire team is able to find the procedures they need to follow whenever and wherever they are. When the team works through processes in Xenia, they’re automatically logged in the system too, creating an easy-to-follow audit trail for tasks that makes performance analysis and team communication easier than ever.

Xenia Room Cleaning Checklist App
Xenia Room Cleaning Checklist App

To top it all off, your team can even include photos and notes on checklist items for optimal clarity, and instant messaging keeps everyone connected from afar. If there’s a quick question or clarification needed, your team can reach you or any other team member with just a few taps of their fingers rather than tracking them down at your busy hotel or disturbing guests with noisy radio calls. And live room status updates ensure rooms are turned over efficiently, so everything is ready for your guests as soon as they check in.

And that’s just the beginning of how Xenia can help you manage your hotel operations. Visit our resources center to learn more about how we can take your housekeeping management to the next level, or book a free product demo any time! We’re here to help you optimize your workflow so you can focus on providing stellar guest experiences every time. 

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