Housekeeping is something that every property needs. But what makes a great housekeeper?
It’s more than simply keeping guest rooms clean and in order, and working as a team player within and across departments. More often, it’s the little things, the extra touches, that guests truly notice and appreciate and make for the kinds of great housekeeping that can help a property stand up every day—and stand apart.
To understand the kind of special touches and going the extra mile that make great housekeepers, consider some of the recent Star of the Industry award winners for housekeeping. Their approaches to the job may be different, but each of them has made the housekeeping role special for everyone.
Maria Medina, winner of the 2022 HD Supply Housekeeping, Small Property Award has been a housekeeper at the Best Western Plus Villa Del Lago Inn in Patterson for more than 16 years. Her attention to detail and to guests has earned her the respect of her peers and a place in the hearts of the guests who stay there. Her managers describe Maria as “instrumental in how our housekeeping department operates” with her willingness to be the go-to for questions, for training, and for being a key liaison between Spanish-speaking guests and the staff. Each day, she makes an effort to hold at least one full conversation with a departing guest and ask about their travel plans, help them with luggage and just make them “feel special.”
Going the extra mile? How about making sure to put extra disposable rags into rooms for construction workers staying overnight, so they can clean their muddy boots? Or making décor with the room towels when there are events, to make that room special and memorable? All on her own initiative—a great example of the heart of hospitality.
Mario Escobar, a housekeeper at the Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach literally went the extra mile for a guest—92 miles round trip, to be more precise. A guest vacationing with her family keft their passports in the hotel safe during her stay, and when they left for Santa Monica, she also left the passports and other border crossing documents behind. The guest was understandably upset and frantic about being without such important documents while traveling with her two young children—and not having a rental car or other way to easily get back to Huntington Beach.
Mario, winner of the 2022 HD Supply Housekeeping, Large Property Award, seized the initiative. By phone, he reassured the guest that her documents were safe—and then drove in his own car, on his own time, to deliver them to her in Santa Monica. Even though the guest offered to pay Mario for his time and trouble, he declined—all he wanted to do was make sure that a guest who wasn’t even staying at the property any longer felt taken care of. The guest wrote to the hotel manager that Mario “put me at ease” and went above and beyond to a level of customer service that “never happens at a resort.” This kind of genuine care is what made Mario an immediate hit with his team—and a great housekeeper.
Genuine listening is the mark of another great housekeeper, Shirley Chen of The Argonaut in San Francisco, winner of the 2021 HD Supply Housekeeping Award for Medium/Small Property. She gets to know guest stories and how to use those stories to make their stays special.
One of the most memorable happened not long ago when a guest told Shirley that it was their family’s first visit to San Francisco. Their two young children were really excited about riding on a Cable Car, which has a terminus just across the street from the property.
On her lunch hour, Shirley went out and bought two “table top” cable cars at nearby Ghirardelli Square and filled them with chocolates, and placed the two cable cars in the room with a small note that read “I hope you enjoy your cable car ride.” Later that evening, the guest called the Housekeeping office to say thank you and the children were in tears as they did not expect that from their room attendant. A few weeks later, the guests sent a fantastic recognition letter to let the entire crew of the Argonaut Hotel know how perfect their stay was and how Shirley had made such a difference for the entire family.
Shirley is just as attentive to her teammates. When there was a shortage of Housekeeping supervisors, Shirley raised her hand to learn the role, and became an expert in opening the department and handling assignments flawlessly.
Those are the kind of attitudes and actions that make great housekeepers, ones who are celebrated by colleagues and guests alike!