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 Actabl created the Housekeeping Optimizer solution for Hotel Effectiveness. We explore the challenges it addresses, and how the transformative features drive efficiencies, boost customer satisfaction, and improve visibility.


1. 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?

Actabl’s Labor Management Platform, Hotel Effectiveness, has always focused on housekeeping because it’s the largest variable labor expense in almost every hotel. Many users even cite the housekeeping features as the reason for joining Actabl! 

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. In addition to this, rolling rooms has been an on-again, off-again practice in hotels for years. Rolling rooms at the wrong time can lead to unhappy guests or even “guest walks”. 

The changes in guest needs and brand standards, combined with unrollable rooms meant predicting housekeeping labor needs was harder than ever! To add a further challenge, the labor crunch then happened! Many housekeeping leaders were facing questions about which rooms they had to clean, plus wondering if they even had enough staff to get it done.

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. Inventory Horizon empowers housekeeping leaders to be extra strategic when scheduling their teams. Once the plan is made, Board Builder and Realtime Rooms enable execution with as little setup and daily work as possible by using the team’s existing schedules and MyHotelTeam installs. If there are not enough room attendants to clean the rooms needed for check-in this is flagged to the Housekeeping Manager during the Board Build.


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

Inventory Horizon gets a lot of positive feedback from on-property and above-property managers. Currently, housekeeping leaders are often doing so much of this in their heads every day; they are supercomputers! We learned during our interviews that some would build out complex spreadsheets to help predict staffing needs. Spreadsheets can be great tools but often aren’t integrated into the systems and can get lost in the shuffle when there are team changes. Inventory Horizon solves this by integrating with the hotel’s labor plans, employee lists, forecasts, and clean types. Housekeeping management can allocate hours wisely and adjust schedules promptly based on key factors including associate MPR variance, attendance rates, and scheduled hours.


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

It’s simple, 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 and the ability to change the assignment order for rooms that need to be rushed due to a guest’s arrival. 


4. 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?

There are above property views on Inventory Horizon, like planned rolled rooms, and daily housekeeping boards. These are visible to both on-property and corporate managers. Not only does this insight provide a clear view of staffing requirements, but it also means corporate leaders can monitor actions taken by housekeeping management to align staffing and daily housekeeping operations with the needs of the hotel.

When developing Housekeeping Optimizer we carried out various interviews to fully understand the challenges. In one early interview, we asked the corporate and on-property managers from one management company about rolling rooms. This was the result:

Actabl: What’s your policy on rolling rooms?

Corporate response: We don’t roll rooms.
On-Property response: Sometimes we don’t have enough room attendants to clean the rooms or sometimes we run out of time and need to catch up the day after. 

Both of these answers came from the same management company and clearly show the lack of visibility at the corporate level! 


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

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

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