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How Clean Is Too Clean – A Guide to Ensure Your Hotel Doesn’t Feel Like A Hospital - Unilever Professional India

How Clean Is Too Clean – A Guide to Ensure Your Hotel Doesn’t Feel Like A Hospital

71% of guests expect ‘above average’ cleanliness ratings when booking hotels.

Cleanliness informs comfort, and comfort informs the overall guest experience. No guest wants to sleep in a dirty bed, eat off unwashed plates or sit on a dusty couch. Hotels that maintain high levels of cleanliness are more likely to draw repeat business and positive reviews.

But where do you draw the line between meticulous hygiene and an environment that feels too sterile, too clinical? The hotel housekeeping department and hotel management must strike a delicate balance between ensuring comfort, safety, and an inviting atmosphere.

Understanding the right level of cleanliness calls for a strategic approach aligned with the hotel’s values, guests' expectations, and the understanding that a hotel is a home away from home.

Balancing Cleanliness and Comfort

The hospitality industry prides itself on providing immaculate environments where guests can relax and feel cared for. However, a threshold exists where cleanliness goes beyond its intended purpose and feels unsettling or impersonal. 

For instance, excessive signage instructing guests on cleanliness and sanitation can feel overwhelming. Visible cleaning equipment (such as hoovers, mops and buckets) detracts from the relaxed atmosphere a hotel aims to create. These elements are important, but housekeeping departments shouldn’t go overboard.

Understanding this balance between cleanliness and comfort is vital and impacts guest satisfaction, brand image, and profits.

"Too clean" in a hotel context goes beyond the absence of dirt or dust. It means an environment that feels so sterile that it becomes uninviting. Overusing aggressive cleaning chemicals (and the accompanying smell), an excessive focus on minimalist design, or a lack of personal touches all make spaces feel less comfortable. This is especially true in hotel rooms, which should feel like home - using overly harsh chemicals in these areas can make the room feel and smell sterile. 

Balancing cleanliness and comfort is a complex task that demands attention to detail and the ability to translate these insights into actionable strategies. Striking the right balance ensures that a hotel’s commitment to hygiene enhances, rather than detracts from, the overall guest experience.

Tips to Maintain the Perfect Balance

Select the Right Cleaning Products and Tools

The choice of cleaning products and tools can dramatically influence the ambiance of a hotel. Opting for cleaning agents with milder fragrances and eco-friendly ingredients can achieve cleanliness without imparting a harsh, clinical smell. Similarly, utilising modern cleaning equipment that minimises noise and disruption enhances guest comfort.

Frequency and Methods of Cleaning

Strategically planning the frequency of cleaning and the methods used can prevent the hotel environment from feeling overly sterile. Consider implementing a schedule that aligns with guest routines and preferences (such as cleaning rooms after breakfast concludes). 

Use cleaning techniques that preserve the space's aesthetic appeal, ensuring cleanliness complements rather than overshadows the guest experience. For instance, gentle pH neutral cleaning solutions for wooden furniture and applying polish ensure that the furniture isn’t damaged and the natural colour of the wood.

Educate Staff About the Right Balance

Empowering housekeeping staff with knowledge and guidance about the desired balance between cleanliness and comfort is crucial. Training programs should emphasise the importance of this balance and provide practical examples and scenarios to build confidence and expertise.

An example would be training housekeepers on the importance of using different cleaning chemicals depending on the surface - harsh cleaners shouldn’t be used on delicate fabrics or wooden furniture. 

Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Clear and comprehensive SOPs are the backbone for consistent and effective cleaning practices. These guidelines ensure adherence to hygiene standards and embed the hotel's philosophy of maintaining a welcoming and authentic environment. Regular review and refinement of SOPs ensure alignment with evolving guest needs and industry trends.

Guest Engagement

Engaging with guests to understand their expectations and preferences regarding cleanliness allows for a more personalised experience. Whether through direct feedback, surveys, or subtle cues, guest insights guide fine-tuning cleaning protocols.

Every guest is unique, and their needs and preferences regarding cleanliness may vary. By being attuned to individual requirements and demonstrating a willingness to adapt, hotels can foster a sense of connection and trust, enhancing guest loyalty.

Ensuring Cleanliness and Comfort

In an industry where excellence is measured in the smallest details, the balance between cleanliness and comfort is a defining hallmark of quality hospitality. Striking this balance calls for precision and understanding.

A hotel must feel like more than just a well-maintained facility; it must be a place for relaxation and comfort where guests feel understood and cared for.

Hotels that feel too sterile aren’t inviting. Look at your reviews and engage with your guests. What do they feel when they stay in your establishment? If they feel uncomfortable and compare the experience to staying in a hospital, it might be time to rebalance your cleanliness and comfort.

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