Q&A on Hotel Inspections
Marketplace host Erica Johnson met with Humber College Hospitality & Tourism Operations Management coordinator Kristy Adams to talk about how Canadian hotels are regulated and inspected for cleanliness.
Erica Johnson: Are there any sort of formal regulations that cover hotel chains?
Kristy Adams: No, there aren't at present. We don't have an outside government body that comes into hotels...or evaluates a hotel to see if the hotel is abiding by governmental standards. No.
Erica Johnson: So it's self-policing?
Kristy Adams: That's right. There are some companies that may outsource their inspections, but for the most part, it is the company that hires, or has the department of quality assurance that does the inspection for the hotel.
Erica Johnson: So you used to be a hotel inspector. What's the job of a hotel inspector?
Kristy Adams: The job that I had was a quality assurance inspector. So what I was responsible for doing was, essentially, going to visit all the hotels in our company to inspect on cleanliness and on service.
Erica Johnson: When they brought you into a hotel room, how would you do your inspection?
Kristy Adams: I'd start at one side of the room and then work my around. So we're trained on getting to all the touch points that the guests would see, or at least be aware of. So I'd start at one side of the room and work my way around, and then eventually make it into the washroom. And then be finished from there.
Erica Johnson: When you start at one part of the room, what are you doing? Are you looking for things?
Kristy Adams: Yeah, absolutely. I'm looking for cleanliness issues, maintenance issues and also those things that represent capital that the hotel should spend money on to improve or replace. So I'm walking around the room, I'm doing a lot of touching. Feeling and touching, do I see high dust? And I'm really tearing the room down. So I might strip the bed right down to the mattress and lift up to look under the box spring. [I'm] looking at the phone, the remote control, anything that's technologically-based in the room, because that's high touch points for the guest. And anything that the guest would use or enjoy while they're staying in a hotel room.
Erica Johnson: So it sounds like a thorough, visual inspection?
Kristy Adams: Yes. But again, with the touching I'm also getting a good feel for what's out there. But yes, the guest is really who we're representing, so we want to look at the things and experience the things that a guest would be experiencing so we can judge what is the guest enjoying or not enjoying about the hotel room.
Erica Johnson: Do you think a visual inspection and touching things, is that enough to ensure a room is clean?
Kristy Adams: Not necessarily, and especially with advanced technology things have changed. You may be aware that many hotels have introduced the black light, which is amazing. It's a fantastic way of being able to see as much as you possibly can. So in some cases, we turn the lights right off in the bathroom, shine the light, and we can see what we need to see. So the technology is great, I think it's necessary in today's market, especially with any of the diseases that may be out there, or you know-- guests are very cognizant of their well being and they want to know that we're doing everything that we possibly can.
Erica Johnson: There is technology out there. How often do you think hotel inspectors are using it?
Kristy Adams: I guess as much as they can afford to.
Erica Johnson: Is it very common? We know of one chain that has a UV wand, but when we spoke to them about housekeepers and asked them how things were inspected they didn't talk about that technology. They said it was more of a visual inspection.
Kristy Adams: I think now it's going to come down to dollars and who can afford. But also what the brand's standards are. So it depends on the company and what the corporate brand is suggesting, and then that'll funnel down to the properties themselves. So I guess fundamentally it comes down to what the corporation can afford and what they feel is absolutely necessary to introduce.
Erica Johnson: Do you think many of them are using technology to make sure their rooms are clean?
Kristy Adams: I think it's a slow introduction, but one that's going to move forward as things advance. I think with the guest demanding that there is transparency in the cleanliness of the rooms and the procedures that we're using.
Erica Johnson: How often do hotel do spot checks for cleanliness?
Kristy Adams: Every day. So it depends on the structure of your housekeeping department, but if a room attendant is cleaning a room, there are spot checks being done by any supervisory or management position in the hotel. But we also encourage our colleagues from other departments to come in and inspect like a sales person. If they're going to show a room to their client, they want to know that the rooms are clean, so they get involved in it as well. It's a whole team environment that gets involved in the cleanliness of the hotel.
Erica Johnson: How often do hotels bring in inspectors to look for cleanliness?
Kristy Adams: Frequently. And I say frequently by minimum twice a year. Some brands do it more frequently than that.
Erica Johnson: Twice a year is frequent?
Kristy Adams: Well, it's a fairly detailed process. So the inspector would come in for-- depending on the size of the hotel, they're in for a day or two days depending on how big the property is. It's very rigorous what we're looking at. So the hotel should have a very good idea as to what the inspector is going to look at. And because they don't know when we're coming, I feel that they tend to be fairly good at staying on top of it. But that's not everybody, right? I can't speak on behalf of every hotel.
Erica Johnson: What are hotels doing these days to make things cleaner?
Kristy Adams: One of the things with renovations that we're doing is we're removing carpet altogether and putting hardwood floors down. That keeps the room cleaner. Also if you notice, check under your bed the next time you check into a hotel to see if the bed is on a bed box. So instead of it being on casters, we're doing a bed box so nothing rolls beneath the bed. And one of the key messages that we got from consumers was they wanted new bedspreads that they could see were being cleaned. So with that, we have this beautifully white duvet covers that are going on the bed.