In light of DND changes, housekeepers deserve better
In light of DND changes, housekeepers deserve better
24 JANUARY 2018 1:20 PM

With major hotel companies and some individual properties revising their do not disturb policies, operators should take the lead in changing how guests treat housekeepers.

While recently touring properties, I’ve noticed a couple of trends, both of which are alarming: slobs and DNDs (Do Not Disturbs).

The two are not mutually exclusive nor linked. What is missing, however, in both cases are tips: cash tips for staff and information tips for law enforcement.

Let’s take a quick look at the slobs. Of course I’m referring to guests that check into our hotels and routinely create pig sties of their accommodations. You’ve seen it: half-eaten and rotting pizza slices, stale beer containers, overflowing cigarette butts, stained sheets (truly vile in many cases), personal hygiene lotions/potions and adult “toys” as well, strewn about the rooms as if it were normal and right.

All of this is just behind the door which may or may not be marked “Do Not Disturb.” Perhaps the sign should say “Enter At Your Own Risk.”

Imagine a housekeeper’s anxiety when she enters the room to find the mayhem she must clean in 30 minutes. It truly is astounding what guests will do when they are away from home, and I am convinced they don’t treat their own homes in such fashion.

Even those rooms not extremely disheveled can be quite a job when four college students have taken up residence. It is simply unacceptable that anyone would treat another fellow human being with such disrespect as if the room attendant is their personal valet or indentured servant.

Then we have the DND signs. I consider myself rather neat and tidy, and actually prefer not to have my room made up, as I prefer the privacy and security. So on a two-night stay, I often just leave the DND sign on the door.

Now however, the brands and independents are implementing new protocols that require entry to a room at least once every 24 to 48 hours as a security measure and to thwart illegal, illicit or just dangerous guest behaviors. It seems the October shooting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas has hoteliers in proactive mode.

It might not be long before the DND sign disappears altogether. From a housekeeping and security perspective, that is probably not a bad idea. From a guest comfort perspective, it stinks. But the housekeeping staff sees and hears virtually everything happening in the hotel, from guests and co-workers, and management, too. Getting daily access to all bedrooms will be in the next wave of change, for sure.

While we will never be able to stamp out bad behavior or disgusting personal hygiene issues, we can certainly do something that shows our appreciation to the staff. I have never quite understood why bartenders and servers make tips, for what by comparison to housekeepers could be considered light duty, while the room attendants barely get a “good morning” from half-naked guests.

It’s time to change that. Hoteliers need to find a way to encourage, not mandate, tipping of the housekeeping team. We need not affront the guest, but we can certainly incorporate into our welcome at reception or discreetly in the rooms collateral that $2 a day in gratuity to a staff member helps them defray the cost of childcare or transportation. Many guests would leave $20.

It’s time to get on board for a different kind of #MeToo: Leave a tip and say #thank$.

George Jordan is senior vice president – operations for Oxford Hotels & Resorts, overseeing a cluster of three-, four-, and 4 ½ -star hotels, both operating and under development. Mr. Jordan has worked in hotels for over 30 years including the Arizona Biltmore, The St. Paul, The Marquette, The Drake, Raffaello Hotel, Hotel Felix, and most recently The Godfrey Hotel Chicago. New openings currently orchestrated by Mr. Jordan include the Godfrey Hotel Boston, and LondonHouse Chicago. Mr. Jordan rose through the ranks while attending college at University of Southern California and Arizona State University, where he obtained a B.S. in finance. George has served as area food and beverage director for Hilton International, based out of the Drake Hotel Chicago, and also as hotel manager at the Drake. George joined the Oxford team in 2009 as area general manager; he was promoted to senior vice president in 2012. His daily duties include oversight of Hotel Felix, Hotel Cass, Godfrey Hotel, and contributes his operational and marketing expertise to acquisition activities. George is a well-respected leader and a member of many Chicago civic organizations including The Magnificent Mile Association, CCTB, DLC and serves on the board of directors for Lawson House YMCA and on the advisory council of De Paul University’s School of Hospitality. Mr. Jordan writes a quarterly column for Hotel News Now and is slated to be a cast member in an upcoming reality TV series.

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