Changing the perception of accommodation management (part 1)

It’s no doubt that housekeeping is seen as the Cinderella of the industry. But why should this be? Accommodation generally contributes the lion share of the profit, and cleanliness always ranks in the top one or two non-negotiable from guests.

According to People 1st and the Labour Force Survey there are 64,200 housekeepers in the UK in total, of which over 20,000 work in the hospitality industry (hotels and other paid for accommodation). Compared to the rest of the hospitality industry, housekeeping has relatively low staff turnover (17%), and 24% of accommodation management staff have been working for their employer for 10 years or more. Which suggests a career in accommodation management it can’t be all that bad!

But despite this there is a perception of poor status and low appeal, and it is not seen as a route to management. Approximately only 1% of hospitality graduates go into accommodation management. The last 10 years has seen a reliance on labour supply from outside the UK. And predictions by people1st and CBI education and skills survey 2010 suggest we’re going to need another 290,000 people into the industry by 2020.

So what can we be doing now to change the perception of accommodation management and attract new talent?

This was the focus at the recent Room to Change conference at The Tower Hotel organised by Springboard, where I had the privilege of a discussion on this issue with 60 industry professionals.  Housekeeping has always been a little bit of the poor relation.

Even thinking back to my own college days, despite the fact I did accommodation operations, this is still only related to about 25% of our syllabus, with time still spent in the kitchen and restaurant. However for those studying towards chefs’ qualifications, these students spent no time in housekeeping at all. A career in the kitchen has continued to have high appeal, and more recently programmes such as Michel Roux’s Service has helped promote front of house.

So what can be done to extend its appeal to careers in accommodation management?

….. continues tomorrow……

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