Check It or Remove It: The Two Absolute Minimum Requirements for Room Attendants

Housekeeping standards for cleaning guestrooms often vary amongst brands and franchisors. Luxury brands require housekeepers to perform more meticulous cleaning due to more elegant furnishings and amenities, increased expectations from prospective guests, and higher average room rate. Yet, all guests typically judge a hotel first and foremost on its perceived level of cleanliness, especially in the guestroom, when making a satisfaction and value determination regarding their stay.

While certain guests may be willing to forgive some housekeeping oversights, there are two minimum expectations that every guest will possess, regardless of hotel brand or service level:

1Check all guestroom systems.

Nothing is more frustrating to a guest who has just checked in and arrived at their hotel room than a malfunctioning door lock, a room light that is burned out, an air-conditioning unit that does not cool, a shower that does not deliver warm water, an unplugged alarm clock that does not display any time, an inoperable or missing remote control for the TV, a running (i.e., leaky) toilet, or missing towels or bathroom amenities. Every guest will ask themselves, “How could the housekeeper not notice these deficiencies?” And the answer is simple: Either the room attendant did not check these items or fix/report these deficiencies, or the guestroom was entered back into the “clean and vacant” inventory status despite these deficiencies.

2Remove evidence from the previous guest(s).

Nothing is more off-putting to a newly arrived guest than finding evidence remaining from previous people who have stayed in that same room. Unremoved trash, previous guests’ clothing or personal belongings, stray hairs found on the shower curtain or in the bathtub drain, an unclean toilet, staining on bed and bath linens or furniture, partially consumed food and beverage items left in the refrigerator or microwave, glassware with smudges demonstrating it has not been sanitized, non-matching closet hangers, or even a locked guestroom safe that will eventually reveal valuables will all violate any guests’ expectation of cleanliness and, in general, creep them out. As discussed above, no guest can sufficiently rationalize to themself how any of these aforementioned cleaning oversights is justifiable or acceptable, or why they should continue to remain in that unsanitary room.

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Dr. William D. Frye is a hospitality educator, researcher, consultant, and former hotel general manager. He is the co-author of AHLEI’s housekeeping textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations.