I was sitting next to Catherine Blieka, product and client services manager for Optii Solutions, as we watched Donna Gallyon schedule the housekeeping staff for the day.
Gallyon, who is operations manager for the Rocky Gap Casino and Resort in Cumberland, Md., was discussing the schedule with housekeeping supervisor Becky Bunnell as she made a few clicks on the green and orange blocks on her computer screen. Then she was done.
"Normally I spend about 20 minutes setting up the housekeeping staff," Gallyon said. On this day it had taken a little longer because she was explaining what she was doing to this eWEEK columnist, who was watching her every move. Once Gallyon was finished assigning housekeepers, she assigned the supervisors, including Bunnell. Then she was done.
Lest you think that assigning the housekeeping staff to its daily rounds is a trivial task, it’s worth noting that housekeeping is about 90 percent of a hotel’s overall operational costs. Any improvement in housekeeping efficiency directly improves the hotel’s bottom line. By using Optii Keeper housekeeping software, the hotel has cut housekeeping costs by about 25 percent, according to general manager Skylar Dice.
Optii Keeper is a set of applications created by Optii Solutions that links the scheduling program on a Windows computer in the office with Apple iPod Touch handheld devices and iPads. The iPods, which are controlled by IBM’s MaasS360 secure mobile management system, run a dedicated application that the staff can’t change. The hotel’s IT department has an iPod for each employee in the housekeeping department, plus a few spares.
Next, we went to the morning meeting of the housekeeping staff, where trainers read a list of items that cropped up consistently in the previous day’s inspections, including making sure trash cans in the rooms were positioned in the right place and windows were cleaned properly. The trainers also read off a list of things that the staff was doing consistently well when the rooms were inspected.
It turned out that the same Optii Keeper software that Gallyon was using to schedule the staff is also used by inspectors when they check to see if hotel rooms are cleaned and prepared properly. Later, when I followed housekeeping supervisor Bunnell around, she used the same software Gallyon had been using, but with a different set of functions.
Optii Keeper works by sending a personalized schedule and task list to each member of the housekeeping staff via their iPod. Initially, the tasks are arranged in the order staff members would follow as they worked their way down the halls in their sections of the hotel.
But task priorities listed on the device can changes as needed. For example, the housekeeper might start by cleaning rooms that were being vacated that day first so newly arriving guests will have a place to stay when they get there.
Once the rooms of departed guests are cleaned, then the housekeepers move on to clean the rooms of guests staying another night.