Are You Delivering the Cleanliness Guests Expect?

NATIONAL REPORT—A recent study by hotel booking site, Trivago, found that more than 60% of hotel guests read reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, AAA and elsewhere before booking rooms, and 71% of guests expect “above average” cleanliness ratings when choosing hotels.

Meeting that expectation can be especially daunting, especially on heavy check-out days. Cleaning rooms of departing guests requires considerably more time than cleaning rooms of stayover guests. A recent time and motion study by Heath and Company Hospitality Advisors found that it took an average 43 minutes to clean a departing guest’s room, nearly 20 minutes longer than it took for a stayover guest’s room. 

To accommodate for this finding, hotel managers should take special care to identify heavy checkout days and set weekly housekeeping schedules that will maximize housekeeping capabilities during heavy checkout periods. It’s also worth assessing the likely makeup of the hotel’s guest list when creating these schedules. Rooms occupied by leisure travelers, particularly families with children, typically take longer to clean than rooms occupied by a business traveler.

Prioritize cleaning rooms of guests who are checking out to ensure clean rooms are ready for incoming guests. Provide the housekeeping staff with an up-to-date list of scheduled checkouts, including late checkouts each morning to guide workflow.

Dalvin Green, product manager for Sanitaire, encourages hotel operators to take special care to ensure housekeeping crews avoid disturbing other guests. “Excessive noise during cleaning can impact customer reviews. Consider investing in quiet-operating vacuums that meet LEED noise and HEPA filtration requirements for green cleaning,” Green said.

In addition, make sure housekeeping employees are thoroughly trained whenever you purchase new vacuums. Show them how to change belts, bags and filters, as well as how to properly remove clogs. Then have them complete those tasks so you are assured they understand. Also, demonstrate the proper way to operate the machine, including adjusting the height of the vacuum, Green noted.

Heath and other hotel management consultants recommend managers develop a scorecard for each housekeeping employee. Conduct random periodic inspections to assure housekeepers are following the hotel’s cleaning policy and are meeting the hotel’s cleaning standards. Use the scorecard information to reward stellar performers and to offer additional training to those whose work is insufficient.

Incentivize housekeepers to take ownership of their cleaned rooms. William Frey, associate professor of hotel management at the Niagara University, suggests hotels encourage housekeepers to take more accountability for their work, such as leaving signed cards identifying themselves as having cleaned the rooms. Frey adds the practice encourages workers to deliver top-notch service and occasionally encourages guests to tip housekeepers for their efforts. 

For further information on methods to reduce injury in cleaning staff, ISSA provides a number of helpful educational resources at