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Hotel housekeeping departments can be considered hotel ambassadors because of their dedication and responsibility in maintaining the hotel's image. Housekeeping performs detailed work in guest rooms and hotel areas to provide a clean, comfortable environment for hotel guests to enjoy. Through cleaning and organizing public spaces, housekeeping departments ensure that what the guests see and experience result in a positive impression of the property.
The primary role of the hotel's housekeeping department is cleaning guest rooms. Housekeeping works closely with front desk operations to communicate when rooms are clean and ready for guests to occupy. Although usually associated with cleaning and sanitizing guest rooms, housekeepers are also responsible for other areas, such as public restrooms, convention space and offices. Housekeeping departments often manage laundry operations, which includes washing linens as well as employee uniforms. At some hotels, housekeepers are responsible for minibar inventory and room service.
Housekeeping departments include a variety of job titles. The department will generally have a director of housekeeping, sometimes called the executive housekeeper. This employee is responsible for managing the department and its employees. Housekeeping departments also have supervisors who inspect work and several types of line staff, including room attendants, laundry attendants, turn-down attendants and public space attendants. In addition, other housekeeping employees run the department office by answering phones and dispatching attendants. In some hotels, the office personnel are responsible for managing lost and found items.
The housekeeping department is often the largest employee department in the hotel. The number of employees is relative to the size of the hotel, and may be a combination of full-time hotel employees and temporary leased labor. The number of full-time employees is generally based on the average number of rooms one housekeeper can clean in one shift. The housekeeping department's full size is based on the rooms per housekeeper per day formula, but daily scheduling depends on occupied rooms and/or special projects.
Hotel housekeeping departments operate 24 hours each day, but the majority of employees work during the day. Day shift housekeepers are typically room attendants who begin cleaning rooms in the morning. The housekeeping schedule revolves around guest occupancy, so housekeeping departments are at their busiest between guest check-out in the morning and check-in in the afternoon. Turn-down attendants are scheduled for evening shifts, so they can perform nightly turn down in guest rooms. Laundry and public space attendants may work any shift.
Room attendants generally use a cart to hold their tools and supplies so they can bring the necessary equipment with them to each room. Carts are stocked with chemicals and cleaning supplies to clean surfaces in guest rooms and bathrooms. The cart also holds a vacuum cleaner, broom and trash bag. Although not brought to every room, carpet shampooers and ozone machines can be brought to rooms that require extra cleaning attention.
Heather Lacey is a freelance writer who has been specializing in print and Web articles since 2008. She is a regular contributor to "Go Gilbert!," "Scottsdale Health Magazine" and other local publications. Lacey has a professional background in hospitality management and studied journalism at Phoenix College.