If you have an Airbnb or similar rental, who is cleaning it for you and preparing it for guests? If you’re not able to do it yourself, how do you choose a cleaning service? It might be more important than you think.
Sheila Perera FIH is the manager of the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel and says:
It’s a job that is greatly valued by guests and management and there’s skill involved. I consider housekeeping to be the heart of hotels. It is the beating, hidden part of the business that touches everything, and it is only when something goes wrong that it is recognised – just like our hearts.
Cleaning for the hospitality industry is beyond simple hygiene and cleanliness. For many years now, we have all had the ability to make our views felt regarding the services we receive. It’s so easy to write a review online. And services such as Airbnb encourage their customers to write reviews of the accommodation they have stayed in.
Cleanliness is a huge issue – hotels spend an enormous amount of money on housekeeping and spend on studies researching into the subject. Can we, the little guy, compete? The person or people you choose to prepare your rental are a very important factor.
You’ll find that some people who apply for the job have been hotel housekeepers. Unless they have worked in extremely luxurious venues then they are unlikely to be suitable. (Just search on YouTube or the internet in general for housekeeping horror stories).
What about a cleaner or service who comes recommended by a friend because she/he/they do a great job cleaning your friend’s own home? Again, it’s very unlikely that a cleaner or service that is experienced in domestic situations will fit the bill. After all, this is much more than cleaning.
Points to watch for when selecting a cleaning/preparation person for your rental:
- Attention to detail. The ideal person will spot even the tiniest problems or issues. When we stay in a hotel, we know full well that the bed was slept in by someone else on the previous night, that hundreds of other people have used that shower and toilet … but the last thing we want to see is any evidence of previous occupants. Your preparation person needs to keep this strongly in mind. A single stray eyelash on the pillow can seriously damage your business
- Hospitality experience. Not necessarily, as mentioned above, in housekeeping. Your prep person has to make your place as hospitable as possible. Unless you are a truly budget listing, your prep person will be responsible for adding those special touches that make your guests feel at home and appreciated
- Availability. This is important for both incoming and outgoing guests. Your prep/cleaning person must be available to prepare your place at short notice but its also important that they arrive to clean your rental as soon as possible after the guest leaves. Kitchen counters with spills attract insects, food garbage in trash cans is going to rot and smell, unflushed toilets happen, linen needs to be treated for stains as soon as possible, the oven might have been left on or the heating or the air-conditioning … you can think of many more reasons why the prep person has to arrive almost as soon as the guests leave
- Honesty. The departed guest contacts you when they get home because they realise that they left their iPad behind. Has your prep person alerted you to this or has that iPad mysteriously disappeared? Can you vouch for your prep person’s honesty and integrity? The guest is insistent and is asking for compensation…
- Prompt reporting. Don’t even consider hiring someone who doesn’t have a phone and who doesn’t have the ability to text you with details and detailed photographs if there is any damage to your property or possessions. You only have a small timeframe in which to alert Airbnb if you are claiming on their insurance (or on the guests’ deposit held by Airbnb) so your prep person must contact you at once. If there’s damage or excessive mess then you, as owner/host need to know about it within minutes of the guest departing
- Another reason for your prep person accessing the property when guests have just left is because guests can be a forgetful bunch. If your prep person/cleaner sees that the guests have left their laptop they can immediately contact you (or the guest if they have that information) and the guest can be contacted whilst they are still in the local area. Leave it any longer and you’re likely to end up paying for the shipping of the laptop to Finland, Canada or Russia – wherever the guest was from (because you can guarantee that the guest who leaves something valuable will be from somewhere far, far away!)
- Understanding of the service you use. For example, if you’re using Airbnb your prep person must be fully familiar with how their system works, especially when it comes to reviews, star ratings etc. The same applies if you are using HomeAway, VRBO, Wimdu, 9Flats…
- Physical fitness. Preparing for guests can be hard physical work, especially if your rental is a full apartment as opposed to a small bedroom. Furniture needs to be moved so that the floor beneath it can be cleaned, mattresses will need to be turned, floors need on-you-hands-and-knees scrubbing type cleaning, vigourous polishing is required. This is not for the faint-hearted or the physically frail
- A strong stomach. Seriously! Whoever you choose will have to deal with bodily fluids of every type. Sometimes they will be relatively tidily contained on the bedsheets; other times they might be more prominent and in the bathroom… Sometimes there will be items under the bed that make even the most broadminded mind boggle. If the person you are interviewing can’t cope with used condoms – one of the milder ‘nasties’ – then they are not the person for you