“The best part is to be able to take care of the guests, to upkeep the hotel at its best and to enhance it’s aesthetics. This is where I personally get inspired.”
Burhan Amin, Cluster Executive Housekeeper, Baylaysun & Views Hotel, Saudi Arabia.
Inspired by his father, Burhan Amin pursued his passion of hospitality as a full time career. He progressed to become the Cluster Executive Housekeeper, Baylaysun & Views Hotel, Saudi Arabia. Let’s take a glimpse at his journey.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Burhan Amin and I am the Cluster Executive Housekeeper, Baylaysun & Views Hotel, Saudi Arabia. I have done my degree in Bachelors of Hospitality and Hotel Administration from The Institute of Hotel Management, Srinagar and have been working in the field of hospitality for the past 8 years. After completing my degree, I did a 6 month industrial training in Crowne Plaza Khobar. After this, I got an opportunity to work as an Operations Management trainee in the Taj in India. I worked with Vivanta by Taj, Srinagar as well as the Taj, Mumbai. My training covered rooms as well as housekeeping. I worked for them for a year and then moved to Saudi Arabia in 2015, where my family was.
Your learnings from the industry
This industry teaches you a lot of things. It makes you disciplined, it enhances your attitude and hospitality level towards people. The industry has seen a lot of challenges due to COVID-19, but after all this, the industry is now recovering, the occupancy levels are bouncing back by 50% - 60%. The pandemic made the housekeeping department even more focussed on cleanliness and sanitation. The housekeeping department cares more about the safety and well being of its guests than ever before. We are facing challenging times but we will also see a lot of opportunities in the housekeeping department as people are taking it very seriously.
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I was passionate about hospitality from a very young age. I have seen my father working in the hospitality sector. He used to tell me about this industry and as a child, I would get fascinated with the world of hospitality. This got me intrigued to an extent that I decided to pursue a career in the very same field.
What drives you and your career?
What drives me is to learn new things. I am a people oriented person and hospitality makes you meet many new people. You get to meet guests from different countries who enrich your experience through varied insights. I have met so many people, from celebrities to Presidents to Foreign ministers. When you meet these people, you learn a lot.
One accomplishment that shaped your career
Long back, when I was working with Shaza Hotels by Kempinski, we had to convert standard hotel rooms into quad rooms. We basically had to change the rooms from 1 bed to 4 beds to accommodate a large number of people. This would help in generating revenue for the hotel. However, accommodating 4 times the capacity of a room was a challenge for the housekeeping department but nevertheless, we managed to achieve this feat and generate extra revenue for the hotel.
Another huge accomplishment came in 2020, when COVID-19 struck. Our hotel was designated as a quarantine hotel. So people who were travelling from different parts of the world were staying at our hotel. The team, naturally, was scared. They didn’t want to come to the hotel. So I stayed in the hotel and motivated them to come. We wore our PPE’s and made sure that the place was thoroughly sanitized. We ensured that we protect our guests and ourselves. This was a challenge which I successfully accomplished by leading the team from the front. We ended up being safe and keeping people safe.
What is the best part of your job
The best part is to be able to take care of the guests, to upkeep the hotel at its best and to enhance it’s aesthetics. This is where I personally get inspired. I feel that cleanliness is a part of our mission. This keeps me motivated to keep doing better. I keep doing morning training sessions with my team, I do yoga with them, and sometimes I also arrange refreshments for them so that they can destress. I believe one has to keep trying to break the ice with their team and I do that everyday.
The most challenging aspect of your job
The most challenging thing in housekeeping right now is to keep the property in its best shape and sanitized due to COVID-19. There has been a huge financial crunch everywhere, you can’t keep up the required manpower. So we keep motivating the team, sometimes by giving them incentives, sometimes by giving them a day off - just to upkeep their morale. This has been really challenging but yes, we need to maintain our standards without any compromise and we are successfully doing that.
What are your thoughts about sustainability?
Sustainability is very important to me. In our field, we need to go-green. In our hotel, for instance, all chemicals are eco-friendly because we want to give back to the environment.
Exclusive housekeeping practices you follow
There are a lot of housekeeping practices that we follow on a routine basis. I have worked for a long time with IHG. They have their own way of cleaning in 5 steps. I have followed their principle. My property right now is Emaar - King Abdullah Economic City. They have their own protocols for cleaning but I believe wherever we can customize cleaning practices as per property needs, we should.
We also put a tag in the room after sanitising it so that guests are reassured that their room is clean and safe to be used.
We also focus on the high touch-points within the room. We make sure to thoroughly clean and sanitise them.
Top cleaning practices you follow
We define the touchpoints in a room and sanitise them. We also conduct deep cleaning after predefined intervals of time. For example, rooms are deep cleaned 4 times a year and public areas are deep cleaned more frequently after coordinating with various departments.
Latest products in use
We currently use all chemicals and equipment from Diversey. For disinfection, we use Diversey Oxivir. We also use the Diversey vacuum cleaners.
Latest technologies in use
We use fogging machines. Our staff fumigates the property at night on a regular basis. For facade cleaning, we have a gondola with a telescope as well as wipers.
How do you train the cleaning staff?
We have a 6 month intensive training program for our casual staff. We also train our cleaning staff in daily morning briefings. This includes training on how to enter a room, how to clean a washroom, how to make a bed, how to clean the glass and so on. We also do on-job training for new staff. When they are done with their 6 month training program, we give them a certificate, graduating them from this program to a proper job role.
What innovations do you think will enhance cleaning?
I would like to see more eco-friendly chemicals in the market. I would also like to see alternate technology such as drone technology at a very feasible cost. We could also do with vacuum machines which do not require human intervention in the corridors.
What is the future of the cleaning industry?
Cleaning and hygiene is a very important aspect of life. In hotels, whether you have occupancy or not, things will catch dust and if they are not cleaned, they will be in ruins. The cleaning industry has a big and bright future. It will evolve in the coming years and provide cost effective tools to equip the housekeepers in a better way.
How do you think the pandemic should be dealt with?
A lot of guidelines have been set up by the WHO and we need to abide by these guidelines. Various countries now have health apps where travellers are mandated to quarantine somewhere. Our policy is not to allow any guest who shows COVID-19 symptoms. Our focus is to keep our guests and our staff safe.