The boom of tourism over the last decade has had major implications to business, including the hotel and resort industry. New destinations (like Siargao, Panglao and Palawan) became popular; international guests increased in number in the islands; more hotels and resorts were built; and — for the housekeeping and laundry professional — more everyday challenges surfaced.
I often visit hotels and laundry companies outside Manila for work and have had the opportunity to frequent Boracay, Bohol, Tagaytay, Davao, Bataan, Cebu and Siargao. In each of these destinations, the problems for general managers, laundry managers and executive housekeepers are a bit unique and different.
This is interesting and important because knowing this fact prepares any manager migrating to a different city of what to look out for – from the dreaded henna tattoos of Boracay to the perennial cold climate of Baguio.
Customer behavior is different in each destination
One of the obvious drivers of that difference is customer behavior. In Boracay, for instance, many hotel guests tend to stay inside their rooms, which impact linen use. As for those who like to hit the beach – how many times a day do you think they’ll jump into the crystal blue waters, come back to rinse, then repeat? There is also the notorious henna tattoo, which can ink linen.
All these activities mean housekeepers need to wash linen almost everyday (or more frequently). Forget about encouraging guests to recycle their towels. Hotels also have to bring up their par level of linen to replenish guestrooms.
It’s a different story in cities, where businessmen almost never stay in their rooms.
The environment has major impacts in the laundry industry. This covers challenges with climate, water quality and waste treatment.
In Baguio where the climate is cold and damp, it is more difficult to dry linen than in Manila. Is your hotel near the sea? Watch out for corrosion in your kitchen and laundry equipment.
Meanwhile, places like Tagaytay are facing their own water security challenges due to increasing demand brought by the booming commercial and residential sectors.
Even if there were sufficient water, one must check its quality. Hard water, which often comes from deep well sources, contains minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Hard water leaves deposits on linen and rings in the toilet bowl. Soiled linen is also generally harder to wash with hard water than soft water.
Water also impacts kitchen sanitation – from equipment maintenance, to stains, to the taste of beverages.
On a related topic, water treatment is becoming an increasingly important subject. Last year, the biggest news in the tourism sector was the closing of Boracay. As the DENR puts more scrutiny on tourism destinations, hotels must increasingly look at water treatment to comply with environmental regulations.
Water recycling and rainwater harvesting are good ways to increase the usability of water and save on water bills.
Availability of service providers and suppliers
More existing and upcoming hotels today would rather outsource their laundry than do it in-house. The challenge though is not all destinations have big laundry companies that hotels can tap for their laundry requirements. And even if there exists such big service providers, due diligence must be applied in order to understand whether this supplier would meet one’s standards. Outsourcing must never compromise good wash.
Another location-based headache is the presence of chemical suppliers, especially of quality and affordable products. Chemicals are essential in kitchen, laundry and general sanitation. They must also provide technical services and advise to help hotels and laundry companies with their challenges.
Employees drive the hospitality industry, even if many processes such as laundry are now outsourced. In driving performance and motivation, leaders must think about the culture of the area, profile of the employees, their needs and wants, behavior and attitude, goals, politics, hierarchy and a lot of factors. Do employees need to travel long distances (e.g. Caticlan to Boracay) everyday? Are they too tired when they arrive at work? Are they motivated?
Many leaders also miss providing sufficient training to employees. I’ve been into a lot of hotels and resorts where housekeeping staff use soiled towels to clean toilers and where they wrap soiled sheets with one of the used sheets, dragging them to the delivery area where the laundry team can pick it up. This happens everyday and eventually cause the fast deterioration of linen.
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