By Biko Gerro
When you check into a hotel room the first thing that hits you is the cleanliness of the room and most of us always marvel on how the room looks sparkling clean with fresh air but what most don’t understand is the process of ensuring a 5 star hotel staff tasked with the duty go through to keep up with the standards.
Antipas Nyambok is the Executive Housekeeper for Intercontinental Hotel-Kenya a member of the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG).He shares his view on what it takes to ensure cleanliness and sanitation for top end customers.
- How has Intercontinental Hotel-Kenya been able to maintain its standards as far as cleanliness and sanitation is concern?
At Intercontinental we have to keep with our IHG Hotel standards which we ensure at all cost. Due to our dedicated staff and always ensure that our rooms are sparkling clean since they shelter guests continually.
I have a 24 hour shift model to ensure that the rooms are clean around the clock and I ensure that a team of supervisors inspect the rooms after they have been cleaned to ensure that the set standards are meet.
We follow the 5 S style of cleaning which is applied in the hotel industry across the globe. When one is cleaning the rooms they must Survey, provide the Service to perfection, ensure that the rooms are Shining after cleaning. Stage the cleaning process and do it with Self-respect .A part from that we also follow the 20 steps of cleaning a hotel room which most of our staff are equipped with.
We also have monthly set of goals which must be adhered by the team and this effectively makes us stands out since we work as a team and we don’t have the ‘I’ when it comes to this kind of job, everybody is a family and when we win we win as a team not individual.
In order to set us apart we also have Guest Online Survey where we seek opinions of our guest as we seek to improve on our services.
We also have a mandatory Online Audit Application for our supervisors and this enables us to improve on our sanitation standards.
By keeping with the above rules we are ranked in a scale of 1-10 we are at position 8 and this have enable the hotel and its staff scope numerous awards like the Tourism Regulatory Authority Audit Report of 2016
- This kind of job requires a dedicated team, how do you recruit your team and ensure that they are the best?
The industry is very dynamic and I must say that for Intercontinental we advertise online for any vacancy. But what stands out is that we ensure that whoever is picked doesn’t just impress the panel but once you are picked then it’s not the end of the interview process, you will subjected to a two month internal training to equip you with IHG standards in which if you pass then the job is yours since we will have no doubt that you will perform according tom our standards.
- Detergents plays a key role and with need to protect the environment, how do you ensure that you stay a part from the rest?
It’s very critical that we maintain not just fresh air and clean rooms but that the detergents we use are eco-friendly detergents. Before any detergents we have a sampling team that test all the detergents to ensure that they meet the IHG standards which ensure that the component materials are safe for human’s health and environment but also they are bio-degradable.
We also train our staff on every new products that we are introducing and all of them have Personal Protective Equipment safety gear which they use whenever they are cleaning the rooms using different detergents.
- How should a housekeeper staff conduct themselves whenever on duty?
IHG has five key rules that every housekeeper must adhere to in order to be part of our larger family.
One must be Discipline,Honest,Keen to detail and Self-driven and Warm and Friendly to both guest and fellow staff .
- How has the hotel been able to attract and retain its housekeepers staff?
I don’t think there is any player in the hotel industry in Kenya who offer better pay than us. When you work for us it’s not just the money but you are offered other packages like medical and above that we offer refresher training to our staff in partnership with Utalii College.
We also have online training courses which the IHG pays for its staff whenever there is a need to be addressed.
- How do you handle customer complains whenever it arises?
Customer is the king and queen in this business and here we ensure that every complain that is addressed to us is tackled within the shortest time possible.
It takes us less than 5 minutes to respond to a customer call.
We have a policy of ensuring customers’ issues that addressed before they leave the hotel because once they are gone then that trust is also gone so in order to protect the brand we ensure that all our guest leave smiling so that they can refer others to the hotel.
- What are some of the challenges that you face while executing your duties?
Achieving the 100 percent customer satisfaction is always hard since we serve customers from different cultural background.This really affects our work but we are always trying to ensure that everyone feels comfortable whenever they visit us.
Heads of Housekeeping Association of Kenya.
For over 20 years Kenya lacked body that could promote and air out the housekeepers rights .It was until a group of Heads of Housekeepers from different hotels formed a Whatssup group to share ideas that the idea was formed to have an umbrella body like any other civil bodies in the country.
“It was in 2015 that I started a Whatssup group with aim of sharing ideas and also acting as a place where issues concerning the housekeepers could be addressed.”Says Antipas Nyambok-Chairman of Heads of Housekeeping Association of Kenya.
In 2016 the association was officially launched having gone through the legal requirement for an association to be registered.
“As we speak we currently have over 90 heads of housekeeping from different hotels across the country and this number will soon double pending the applications we have received so far.”adds Nyambok.
Nyambok notes that the Tourism Regulatory Authority has acknowledged the body and will soon formalize an agreement with the body to help and bring sanity in the sector.
“We have had talks with the authority and soon we shall be able to opened up for new members which will not only include the heads of the housekeeping but anyone working as a staff within the housekeeping sector.This will enable us create harmony within the sector be able to promote the rights of our members the same way doctors are protected by their body. “comments Nyambok.
Once the body is fully formalized then it will be mandated with certification of workers within the housekeeping industry.
Nyambok plans to have the body include East Africa regional member countries.
“Our key plan is to have the body as an Eastern and Central Africa umbrella body so that each country will have a representative.”Nyambok concludes.
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