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Hotels Gear Up Housekeeping Troops

With less than two weeks before
Spring Breakers begin arriving, Orlando hotels are going the extra mile to
make sure their property is spotless. This year, the Orlando Convention
and Visitor’s Bureau expects to receive 350,000 visitors during the
March/April Spring Break season, who will pump over $242 million into the
Lodging industry alone. And with visitors forecasted to spend more than $2
billion on area lodging costs over the course of the year, hoteliers are
starting now to ensure guests are pleased with their accommodations and
plan on coming back. Much of that responsibility falls to the often
under-appreciated housekeeping function whose contribution to attracting
and retaining tourism dollars in Florida and elsewhere is no secret to
lodging industry officials. “The housekeeping staff is the key to a total visitation experience,” said
Gary Smith, executive vice president, of the Florida Hotel and Motel
Association. “Because the housekeeping staff has daily contact with the
guests, we see them as the front line of defense. A hotel that doesn’t
retain quality housekeeping staff won’t see as many repeat customers.”

“If a guest is not happy, you can’t expect them to want to come back,”
said Cigdem Duygulu, district director of the Florida International
District of the International Executive Housekeepers Association, Inc.
(IEHA). “We need to continue to exceed guest’s expectations with
consistently clean rooms.”

To do that, area hotels go out of their way to attract conscientious
housekeeping employees, train them rigorously and then provide them with
the latest products designed to help effectively and efficiently clean

Advances in cleaning technology help housekeepers do a better job and
cover more ground. Major corporations such as Procter & Gamble have
developed a variety of products that help simplify the cleaning process.

Experts at P&G have enhanced an entire line of familiar household cleaners
for industrial use in hotels. According to Kate Karazim, brand manager who
oversees P&G cleaning products used in the lodging industry, the winning
combination begins with employee satisfaction, which leads to cleaner
rooms and ultimately guest satisfaction.


“When employees use products that not only multi-task, but are also brands
that they know and trust, they can be satisfied in a job well done and
done more efficiently,” explained Karazim.

Karazim also notes that familiar brand names are not lost on customers.
“When guests see housekeeping staff using brands they use at home, they
can feel confident in the level of cleanliness, leading to a feeling of
home-like comfort and satisfaction in their surroundings.”

Achieving satisfaction such as this is not only important to area
hoteliers because of the encouragement it provides staff, but also helps
ensure repeat customers—a significant percentage of the lodging
business in Orlando.

Tourism is the largest industry in Central Florida, accounting for 204,526
direct industry jobs in 2003. Were it not for the efforts of those working
on the housekeeping staffs of area hotels, visitors may not want to return.

Industry forecasts indicate that room occupancy levels in Central Florida
are expected to increase to 72.6 percent this year. Hotel execs believe a
simple way to separate Orlando from other destinations is to make sure all
of the 112,000 rooms in Central Florida’s 400 hotels look and smell clean.

And, while hotel guests are seldom in the room to appreciate the
dedication with which most housekeepers apply themselves, the importance
of what they do is hard to overlook by hotel management and the guests
themselves. “Guest comment cards can make your day, or mean that you’ll be
pulled aside by management,” said Duygulu.

And those in the lodging business also know that in Orlando—the second
most popular domestic vacation destination in the United States—guest
satisfaction often translates into destination preference and big top-line

“Orlando and Central Florida has a huge stake in its hotel rooms, and it
is an investment that is growing,” adds Danielle Courtenay, vice president
of communications for the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors
Bureau, Inc. “In our market, nearly 12.6 percent of all visitor spending
is for lodging. Clearly, we’re banking on families continuing to come
here, in part because they prefer the Orlando hospitality experience over
what’s offered in other cities.”