Outsourcing issues debated at Housekeeping Forum

UAE housekeepers discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing staff

Panellists discuss outsourcing at the first Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Forum.
Panellists discuss outsourcing at the first Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Forum.

Executive housekeepers at the first Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Forum discussed the challenges and benefits of outsourcing housekeeping staff.

Speaking at a panel discussion about best practices and minimising labour costs, panellists agreed that while housekeeping plays a large role in the success of a property, it is not directly a revenue-making department. This means budgets can be limited and hotels usually have to turn to outsourced labour as a cost-effective solution.

“Minimising the cost of manning in housekeeping is very, very difficult,” Asif Khatri, executive housekeeper at the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach Resort and Hilton Dubai The Walk, told a laughing audience. “Using outsourced staff is a very cost-effective thing for us. Yes, there are language barriers which we all are facing because of the minimum wage we are paying them. But it is really helping us to reduce the manning cost. Outsource is the only source where we can save this cost,” he said.

Fransesco Tucci, housekeeping manager at the Media One Hotel, believes that while outsourcing is good for cost-cutting, in-house staff should be rewarded with incentive programs such as promotions.

“We work on both sides. We believe in our staff more than what someone coming from other properties can do. We try to retain as much of our own staff as we can. We work a lot on empowering them; we believe in internal promotions as this will make staff more willing to carry on working in our company rather than looking for other jobs. We have great examples of room attendants that became supervisors,” he explained.

Irfan Ul Salam, executive housekeeper at Melia Dubai also believes in empowering in-house staff in order to maintain service standards. “As a tool to reduce the cost for the department, outsourcing is a good idea, but when it comes to factors like offering five-star service, having to deal with guests, I would rather give the chance to in-house staff and leave it completely to the staff working at the hotel full time,” he said.

“This in turn gives you a chance to provide more training for your in-house staff, giving them a sense of belonging, developing them further in the department. Outsourced staff would be a great idea to save costs but developing and retaining staff should be a priority,” explained Salam.

Panel moderator, Hari Sudhakar, executive housekeeper at the Al Maha Luxury Collection, believes it all comes down to good leadership. “We need to lead a team in by guiding them, giving them the education, giving them a step to move further. This keeps people motivated,” he said.

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