A large hotel is, at heart, a vast logistical operation. Guests check in and out of a network of rooms all requiring daily attention. Rooms, restaurants, receptions and conveniences, all require time sensitive processes managed by a small team of organised staff who can benefit from feeling of continuity between their processes.
Let’s take the essential (but often taken for granted) role of cleaning. Daily, sometimes hourly cleaning tasks are required throughout hotels such as Malaysia’s First World Hotel, which boasts a mammoth 7351 rooms! The three biggest challenges of the cleaning industry are quality, motivation and high employee turnover of staff. So how are Apps and IOT technologies helping in these challenges?
Cleaning shifts at Hotel d’Data
To explain, I take you on a behind-the-scenes visit to Hotel d’Data which, of course, benefits from the 20.4 billion IoT connected devices predicted by Gartner by 2020. Here, rooms work with staff to keep themselves clean. Each room in this gargantuan hotel is aware of its temperature, last cleaning check, minibar status, etc.
Davina is our hotel manager today. It’s 4am, and she’s already sent out a notification to those registered as available on the Cleaning Staff app that she’s going to need an extra four cleaners this morning. Four new cleaners respond from the comfort of their home, without a round robin of phone calls, and they have now been recruited.
Of course, the ‘Cleaning Staff’ app is fictional, but apps like Humanity, Wheniwork or Kronos streamline much of the pain of shift planning, allowing the workforce to be actively involved in the resulting schedule, which in turn, allows for more flexibility and greater ownership of the result.
As the staff begin to arrive, Bluetooth beacons, such as those offered by Aruba, record each person’s arrival. Each beacon triggers location-specific events and features of particular apps, as people move around the hotel. When the cleaning team leader arrives, Davina receives an alert to welcome them and outline the finer points of their responsibilities. When staff are likely to be one of the 1.5bn active monthly WhatsApp users who can instantly contact their most distant relatives, they of course expect to to be able to instantly speak with and locate their colleagues when working within the same building.
One of these cleaners, Bill, isn’t familiar with the hotel layout. However, location-based asset tracking ensures he can find everything he needs for his tasks. It’s important to track high value items, such as defibrillators and fire extinguishers, so that they can be located and checked, but it’s also just handy to find where the light bulbs are kept.
Bill is directed to clean rooms 307-317 via Meridian’s indoor wayfinding, and then uses his smartshift bracelet to open the door. Bill brought a light bulb, because the IOT room was in two-way communication with him before he visited and so he knew to pick one up from supplies. He observes that the “bathroom mirror is scratched” and Voice Recognition sends his observations to the caretaking team. After room 307’s astonishingly depleted mini bar is restocked, a quick Augmented Reality sweep around the room confirms the hotel’s preferred room arrangement - right down to the objects on the desk.
Bill has cleaned the room, and the door locks behind him. When all the rooms are cleaned, Davina, our hotel manager, sees the status in realtime and before Bill logs out of the hotel, Davina rates his team leader’s efforts today 5 stars at the end of his shift. An end-to-end tracking of regular health and safety steps can dramatically lower insurance premiums, because it is so much more reliable than a pen and paper.
So how has the above addressed three big concerns for Hotel cleaning?
Quality: Documented Standards are accessible to all via the Apps. And moreover, tools such as quick reporting and AR checks can help improve the results, such as when Bill checked the layout. Companies like Ikea are already embracing this to considerable effect in their instructions delivered via AR.
Motivation: It is often wrongly assumed that Apps dehumanise working, but in fact, the opposite can be true. Close messaging contact with colleagues and quick access to information is empowering, while feedback from peers can make their time more rewarding.
High employee turnover: Apps such as ‘Cleaning Staff’ can be downloaded at the employee’s leisure, and contain authorised GPS and fingerprint validating information for security. Onboarding is de-risked through digitising standard practices and lead time is reduced through integration into the hotel Asset tracking and Wayfinding.
Overall, the positions of the Hotel Manager and the Cleaning Team are improved through transparency between their processes. Meanwhile, the data shared will help both parties improve the overall customer experience.