Blog 11-2023 - Taylor (2)

Interview with Taylor Jones, Director Of Product: How and why we built the Housekeeping Optimizer solution

In this interview, Taylor provides an in-depth look at why we created the Housekeeping Optimizer solution for Hotel Effectiveness. We take a look at the problems the solution helps teams tackle, and how the features drive efficiencies, increase customer satisfaction, and improve visibility.

Problem Identification: What specific challenges in housekeeping management did you identify that led to the development of Housekeeping Optimizer, and how does the product specifically address these pain points?

TJ | Hotel Effectiveness has always focused on Housekeeping as it is the largest variable labor expense in almost every hotel. Many hotel management companies cite Housekeeping as the reason for signing up! Housekeeping operations were upended during the pandemic and post-pandemic swings. Don’t go in the rooms, put towels outside the room, don’t do stayover cleans, only clean opt-in rooms, clean every room, etc. Rolling rooms has been an on-again, off-again practice for hotels for years. Rolling rooms at the wrong time can lead to unhappy guests or even walk-overs. These changes in guest needs and brand standards combined with unrollable rooms meant predicting housekeeping labor needs was harder than ever! We wanted to combine our knowledge of hotel operations, forecasts, and room clean history to help the on-property housekeeping leaders make the best plan possible using Inventory Horizon. Once the plan is made, Board Builder and Realtime Rooms are about executing the plan with as little setup and daily work as possible by using the team’s existing schedules and MyHotelTeam installs.

Features-driven Decisions: Of the features integrated into Housekeeping Optimizer, which one was identified as the most crucial by Housekeeping Managers and why?

TJ | Inventory Horizon gets a lot of nods from on-property and above-property managers. We have to remember that our Housekeeping Leaders are often doing so much of this in their heads every day; they are supercomputers! We heard during our interviews that some would build out magical spreadsheets to help predict similar items. Spreadsheets can be great tools but often aren’t integrated into the systems we use and can get lost in the shuffle when we have team changes. Inventory Horizon solves this by being accessible to existing Hotel Effectiveness managers and integrating with the hotel’s labor plans, employee lists, forecasts, and clean types.

Balancing Occupancy and Scheduling: How does Housekeeping Optimizer adapt to unpredictable occupancy demands to ensure optimal scheduling? Can you give an example of how the system handles sudden changes in guest preferences or check-in/check-out patterns?

Enhancing Guest Satisfaction: In what ways does the Housekeeping Optimizer facilitate improved guest satisfaction?

TJ | A guest won’t be satisfied if they don’t have a clean room to check into. Inventory Horizon acts as an early warning system for the hotel, flagging days when the hotel is at risk of running out of clean rooms due to short staffing. Board Builder allows the manager to prioritize rooms by status, like those already vacant to be cleaned first. Realtime Rooms allows the manager to see the current cleaning status of each room, as well as the ability to change the assignment order for rooms that need to be rushed due to a guest’s arrival.

Visibility and Reporting: Can you elaborate on how Housekeeping Optimizer improves on-property and corporate visibility? How does the product streamline communication between different hotel departments and higher management to ensure a more coordinated approach to housekeeping management?

TJ | There are above property views on both Inventory Horizon, like planned rolled rooms, and daily housekeeping boards. In some of our early interviews, we asked about Rolling Rooms to both corporate and on-property managers. It went like this:

Actabl: What’s your policy on rolling rooms?Corp: We don’t do that.
On-Property: Sometimes we run out of time and need to catch up tomorrow or the day after. I message the GM with a summary when they ask me why we did it. 

These answers came from the same management company!

Feedback Loop and Continuous Improvement: How have you incorporated feedback from early adopters or beta testers of Housekeeping Optimizer to refine its features? 

TJ | We are always looking to improve and know that our customers have the best ideas! We utilize a feedback portal that any manager can use to share ideas for improving our tools. Our beta testers gave us feedback on how to implement Do Not Disturb and Denied Service into Realtime Rooms – this is part of the tool today.

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