Ritu Goyal, Executive Housekeeping at Kenilworth Resort and Spa Goa

Ritu Goyal always dreamt of being a part of the hospitality industry. However, before she entered the Hospitality industry she completed Post Graduation in Physics and was selected as principal for the CBSE Naval Children School thereby getting the title of  one of the youngest principals.

According to her, hospitality industry enhances professionalism in an individual and helps grow as a person. This industry by virtue of its profession requires one to interact with people of different backgrounds and culture which in turn provides immense exposure and enables one to gain knowledge from their life experiences. These are a few human aspects which always interested her to join the Hospitality Industry. She believed this to be the industry where she could fulfil her dreams.

She says, “For me hospitality basically means hospitable treatment. It is being appreciated for the work that you do for others. It gives one an immense feeling of high job satisfaction by making others experience happiness.”

In terms of challenging tasks, she says it would be the attrition. The staff of any hotel is a precious jewel. Investing and retaining them is very important.

Second would be the digital social media. “With this one person’s influence can be wide reaching. It can either enhance your business or it can bring it down. So it is very important that Housekeeping is kept at the very top of their game. A positive experience creates loyalty and repeat guests, which is very important. Housekeeping is the eyes and ears of the hotel industry. So when I talk in terms of the security, they are the people who are first in contact with the guests belongings because they have been attending to the rooms. So for them they have to know where to report for any unseen event or where they believe that there is a danger to the property, to whichever department it may be. They have to very alert all the time.

Perfection is something that hospitality always wants. To have that perfection you have to adhere to the SOPs that have been laid down by the company”.

Third would be operational issues which she says, can be of various types. In her expert opinion, the solution to that is to adopt a PMS system. All operational areas can be streamlined by syncing all departments for easy communication with the help of this Hotel Technology.

Next would be the rising cost of daily consumables. The solution here is to keep a control on the stock and reducing wastage.

Change in guest expectation is also something that hoteliers need to deal with. “You have demanding guests. It is imperative to understand what these demands are and then jointly come to a solution.”

Another big challenge they face is the competition from the other properties. The reason for this competition is technology. The management should ensure innovative use of technology that benefits customers as well as hotel operations.

Sustainability is very important. Smart hotels understand that the Corporate Responsibility Programs help to win the trust of a customer while benefitting employees, the environment and earnings. She mentions that the concept of sustainability is composed of 3 pillars, Economic, Environment and Social which is also known as Profit, Planet and People.

When asked about any failures that she had to face, Mrs. Goyal says, “I will not use the word failure. We cannot live with the word failure in Hospitality. There are challenges. Every day is a new challenge. We are like a wave. At one point we have a very positive review from a guest and the next moment there could be a negative review that could let you down. You have to overcome these challenges. You have to learn from every experience and ask yourself ‘Why did this happen?’ or ‘Why did this not happen?’

Hotel Industry has to face various  audits through out the year. It may be a mystery audit, a hygiene audit.etc  She expressed, “You can  have a guest who may declare himself as an auditor the next day. As a housekeeper you have to be always ready for these situations You cannot buy time at that point.

you have to be updated with all the facts and figures,To ensure the hotel passes through all the audits which enhances the hotel business . For this the trainees need get the required training and clarity. You must tell them exactly what you need from them and how to go about it as well. Failure is not expected in the Hospitality industry.

As per Mrs. Goyal, in order to have staff retention one needs to make sure that there is job satisfaction. To have job satisfaction the management can make sure that they have a good cafeteria, recreation room, TV room, staff birthdays are celebrated etc. Staff should be appreciated. They should be recognised for their good work. Incentives must be given. Incentives and appreciation are something that really motivates the staff and that can be done only by the management. The management should ensure compliance with current laws, health and safety measures and other statutory regulations as well for the safety of its employees.

With regards to the courses in IHM, Mrs. Goyal says, “What I personally feel is that you have to be passionate, to be in the Hospitality industry. What you basically see is very glamorous from the point of views of a guest. But what you see as a staff is absolutely different. So for those students who are going to be a part of this industry they should have a lot of practical knowledge. In all their years in IHM they should all go to the hotels and get an experience of how things really work and what hospitality is all about. Passion and genuine interest are the crucial components for success. If you posses these qualities you are half way there already.

This industry does not give you success overnight. You have to give your 100 percent. You have to work to get your name so that people recognise you. If there are 400 employees then you have to compete with each and every one of them from every department to be recognised and to be recognised you have to give your best.

When she talks about hygiene in the hotel industry she talks in terms of cleanliness. Good hygiene is very important to make a guest feel rested and reassured. Hygiene starts right at your pick up point to the rooms, washrooms, restaurant, gym and everywhere else. Hygiene standards can raise the bar of any property. As per her the definition of Hygiene is the safety of a guest.

We asked her “What a guest likes the most during their stay?” She said, “Memories are based on a powerful experience. A guest wants personalised service. They like smiling faces and they liked to be welcomed. They want to be pampered and want to go back with lovely memories. So you have to make a guest feel very special that ‘Yes, we were waiting for you to arrive at the property and here we are the entire team to ensure that you have the best day.’ There are many ways to pamper the guest like celebrating their birthday or anniversary or something which is special to them or having a photo session with them. So even if there is a small mistake on your part the guest will not remember it as his first experience was a great one. You may just say a good bye to him but he will remember your name and that is where he will put it on the social media. It has not cost the hotel or the management anything but a little ‘thank you’ raised the bar of his expectation. Now a days, design trends and technology help to provide a meaningful experience to the guest and drives guest loyalty which is important to the management as it increases the revenue.

How she handles guest complaints was something that we asked her. To that she replied saying, “Guest complaints may be of various types. They could be staff oriented or product oriented or with respect to property comfort. As a senior you have to be a very good listener. The Guest is always right.You cannot argue with the guest. Find out the root cause and inform your senior management. If required, give a service recovery. Treat the guest as HANDLE WITH CARE. Ensure that every person in the hotel knows that this particular guest was upset about this particular thing. WhatsApp has made it easy. Ensure that YOU have a personal meeting with the guest instead of your juniors as that will help to handle the guest’s anger beautifully. Our motto is that we want the guest to come back.”

Her next higher goal is to take the housekeeping department to a higher level. I would like to see more housekeepers being promoted to RDM that is Room Division Manager or GM.

Whichever hotel that she may be a part of, she wants to be recognised because she wants to bring changes which would benefit the guest and the environment. She wants to ensure that the bar of Housekeeping is raised to the highest level.

During this pandemic situation, housekeeping team are the face of any hotel, they are well recognised for the wonderful job they have been doing, to ensure the safety and hygiene of the hotel.

In todays time,, Housekeeping are the true covid warriors,,, keeping everyone safe and secure.

Her advice to other hoteliers struggling with the day to day operations is to have a bright vision. “You must develop the ability to commit to your organisation. Be loyal. People cannot rely on you or trust you if they don’t feel that you are loyal to the company. Develop the ability to think logically. Decisions should be made on the basis of objective information. Work ethics are very important. Investors look for exceptional companies; they do not appreciate mediocrity. You can’t be mediocre and ask for the best. Also develop the ability to look at things from the perspective of the employer as well as the employees. Work hard, of course. You should have the leadership ability and management skills. You will acquire all these skills through hard work alongside the right mentors. Ensure that you have the right person to guide you.

To the readers and youngsters reading this, she would like to say, “You have to come to this industry with a positive mind. You could just break down one day because it could be one of the worst days for you. You have to overcome. The initial few years are tough in the industry but once you get the crack of it there is absolutely no looking back. We all go through this procedure as we all go through the phase of being trainees which is one of the toughest jobs. But if you have made up your mind that your future lies in this industry then you give your best. You have to have patience and passionate. Be a very good listener and have a smiling face. There is a lot of success if you give your best.”

Lastly she ends by saying, “We are the angels of the hotel. Angels who come and do your room but no one is able to see these angels.”