I went on a behind-the-scenes tour at the Sheraton Towers Hotel last month and got a sneak peek into hotel operations. It was an eye-opening experience, with parts of the tour resembling scenes from an Iron Man movie – I’ll show you which in a bit. :)
With 420 guest rooms, you can imagine how difficult it is to manage just the housekeeping aspect of things. It has 33 Room Attendants who are paid about S$1300 each per month, and they have to clean 14 rooms within an 8 hour period, which is no easy feat. Plus, the oldest Room Attendant is 73 years old! Impressive!
Due to the scale of their operations, the hotel has tapped on various funding sources such as the Inclusive Growth Programme by e2i to invest in technology to make their associates’ jobs safer and easier. These investments also resulted in greater accuracy in the work done, quicker response time and increase in productivity.
1) E-Housekeeping System – All Room Attendants get a Galaxy Note just for work purposes. This system helps managers monitor productivity at a glance. ;) If the ‘play’ button is shown, it means the attendant is working inside the room so that there will not be any duplicates or uncertainties.
[ What the colors mean: Blue = Cleaned, Green = Inspected, Red = Not Yet Cleaned]
2) Minibar – Previously, the hotel used codes which the room attendants had to memorize and key in accurately. Naturally, mistakes occurred from time to time, and refunds had to be made sometimes. Now, the Room Attendant just looks at the pictures and clicks on the items which have been consumed by the guest. Thus, staff at the front desk know how much to charge the hotel guest immediately. And bill accuracy levels have gone up!
3) Lost-and-Found items – The Room Attendant can send descriptions of lost-and-found items to Security via the phone. If guests have left the hotel, and discover they left something behind in the room, their call can be routed to Security for them to be given an instant answer.
4) Room Setup – If attendants forget what the room setup should look like, they can view a picture of it within the phone.
5) Faulty items – The Room Attendant can send pictures of items not working properly, e.g. lamps, to Engineering, so the latter know which tools to bring up to fix the issue.
6) Bed-making made Ezi – King sized beds weigh over 70kg and could injure the Room Attendant’s back if not handled carefully. Sheraton has invested in the Ezi-Maid system where they can use a remote control to adjust the height of the bed according to the attendant’s height so as to prevent the Room Attendants from sustaining back injuries when going about their duties.
7) The Iron Man machine – Instead of the old school arduous task of ironing, the hotel invested in a 3-in-1 machine which allows the collars, cuffs and body to be ironed in less than 30 seconds with just the press of a button.
Fit the shirt onto the machine:
* Sure looks like something from an Iron Man movie! *
In 20 seconds, the shirt is neatly pressed:
[ About 300 shirts are ironed this way in a day ]
8) The Trousers – Why stop at shirts when trousers can be ironed as easily too! Technology like these also helps counter the manpower shortage issue and gets work done faster too.
A firm believer in productivity growth, NTUC’s Secretary General Lim Swee Say says that Singapore needs to take a three-pronged approach, which involves the cooperation of every sector to increase productivity through innovation, helping less productive sectors to lower their reliance on labour and more on technology, and be future-looking in using these tools (technology) to increase worker’s salaries.
With their e-housekeeping system, even the 73-year-old Room Attendant, who has never used a handphone before, can now use the gadget to help in her work. With her work becoming easier, she now has more time for guest contact. Sheraton does believe in taking care of their associates so their associates will take care of their guests. They have an astounding 64% customer retention rate, testimony to the hard work of all their associates!
What impressed me about Sheraton:
*Having a Juice Lady at breakfast. Guests can get fresh fruit juices from her – she even keeps a record of which juices the regulars drink!
*Benefits of greater productivity: Staff receives $100 incentive each month if there are no guest complaints
*Hiring no foreigners in HR, Finance and Sales departments.
*Their work-life excellence programme – the company pays for activities such as bowling, running, etc, and the privilege is extended to the families of staff members too!
*Sponsoring the diploma studies for older staff, as well as for ITE graduates.
*Training staff makes them more marketable, and more mobile. However, Sheraton still manages to retain 74% of staff after training them!
*Their signature service: One-button Guest Services Communication Centre – just press the * button instead of trying to figure out which button to press to get connected to front desk staff, or housekeeping, etc.
From the looks of it, Sheraton Towers seems to follow a Progressive Wage Model, an initiative pushed by NTUC, believes that employee’s wages are pegged to skills, productivity and career development. With more training and productivity improvements, the company was able to garner higher profits and distributed the gains with their employees. It’s a win-win situation!
Source: NTUC U Portal
Food for thought: Would you take up this job of Room Attendant for S$1300 a month? ;)