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Adapting to COVID-19: ahs hospitality changes the housekeeping model

ahs hospitality Executive GM, Kylie Maxwell, shares some handy hints on stepping up to keep Coronavirus at bay.

What has the response been from ahs hospitality to COVID-19 so far?
Our first response to COVID-19 was to implement new procedures such as managing guests in isolation and team members returning from overseas. Then, we reviewed our existing work procedures and equipment to ensure they are right for the job. Next, we sought updated confirmation from our chemical suppliers that our current chemical range is appropriate for managing the control of COVID-19.
We continued providing regular and consistent updates to our management and frontline team members throughout this time. And lastly, we launched our dedicated Coronavirus information hub – accessible via our intranet – ensuring all housekeeping managers have access to current information, alerts and updates.

What have been the greatest challenges for ahs hospitality on COVID-19?
This period has brought many challenges. One of the hardest things for me personally was watching our thriving hotel industry diminish. In the aftermath of the devastating bushfires, our recovery period was hit even harder by COVID-19. Instead of preparing our regional hotels for an Easter boom, we were thrown into the chaos of responding to COVID-19 with the rest of the hospitality industry.
Sadly, like many businesses in our industry, despite our best efforts, we had to stand down many in our workforce due to reduced occupancies in many of the hotels we service. This was heartbreaking for everyone within ahs hospitality. We are now changing our approach to new clients to ensure we can retain as many of our staff as possible, while prioritising their health and safety.

How have you adapted your business model?
We have adapted our housekeeping model to provide other cost-saving measures for hotels. We now offer short term labour hire and individual contracts that can be as short as four hours. This allows hotels to benefit from experienced housekeepers working under their supervision with the reassurance of full compliance under the Hospitality Award. Also, because of the number of hotels housing and quarantining guests, we now offer deep clean and pathogen cleaning services.
To build our client portfolio while our hotel partners are quiet, we are diversifying, with our cleaning services now being offered to aged care facilities. We really hope we can find employment for our team in the aged care industry while still working for ahs and then return to housekeeping when the industry emerges.
We are taking an agile approach to our model since COVID-19 and we encourage any hotels who are needing a flexible or tailored model to contact us.

How can hotels benefit from these changes?
Our short-term labour hire contracts for pre-cleaning, by trained housekeepers, would be highly cost-effective for hotels. Or if a hotel is planning to remain open and wants to reduce its direct labour costs, they could benefit greatly from our new short-term labour hire option.
Also, when the industry improves, and it will, if a hotel requires housekeepers on a flexible basis, with less frequency, our model would be extremely valuable.

How do you keep up morale in your team?
We are always sharing the positive feedback we receive from our hotels with our employees. Whether it’s regarding the way we’ve adapted to changes in labour or our new pricing models, we communicate this throughout the business. Internally we are connecting with our team members via teleconferences and video conferencing to keep everyone up to date on where we are at.
We also prioritise transparency across the business – keeping our employees and clients aware of our response to COVID-19 and changes throughout the business to reassure them of our viability.

If you are interested in contacting ahs hospitality about its services, please contact Business Development Manager, Laurie Jerome, directly on 0409 350 397.

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