Omar Latif, Cluster General Manager at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Saudi Arabia
Kaizen - the Japanese word for continuous improvement! Whether hoteliers are aware of this term or not, they are applying this concept towards their hygiene practices. Needless to say, this hygiene is essential for the safety of guests and employees alike. Perhaps this is the reason that hoteliers are revisiting their cleaning and hygiene processes and continuously improving them.
We speak to Omar Latif, Cluster General Manager at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Saudi Arabia regarding his perception about hygiene and how the pandemic has shaped it!
How important is hygiene to you? How has the pandemic shaped it?
The safety and security of our guests and team members remain our highest priority, and Hilton Hotels remain diligent in our commitment to provide a safe, hospitable environment for all who enter our doors. Hilton is committed to finding a solution to ensure an industry-leading standard of cleanliness and disinfection in the most sustainable way possible. In this context, Hilton CleanStay is Hilton’s new industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection in properties around the world.
Our elevated processes and team member training have been developed with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, to help Hilton Garden Inn & DoubleTree By Hilton Financial District guests enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay from check-in to check-out. Developed to meet evolving consumer expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hilton CleanStay provides guests with assurance and peace of mind when they stay at any of Hilton’s more than 6,100 properties.
How have the cleaning practices in your hotel changed during this year? Which new practices are being introduced?
Hilton Garden Inn & DoubleTree By Hilton Riyadh Financial District is rolling out Hilton CleanStay, to deliver an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection in Hilton properties across the world. Our elevated processes and Team Member training have been developed with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, to help our guests enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay from check-in to check-out. New standards for Hilton CleanStay that will be rolling out soon include a Hilton CleanStay Room Seal to indicate that a room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, “knock and go” dropped-off room service, and flexible housekeeping options.
Which cleaning technologies, products, and equipment have been most effective in battling the pandemic?
Our housekeeping team members use approved disinfecting wipes on each of the guest room hotspots detailed in the infographic, as well as using them to disinfect throughout hotel common areas. Hotel team members are provided with equipment and enhanced training designed to protect their well-being.
How did you ensure staff and guest safety during the pandemic?
The safety and comfort of our guests remain a top priority. One thing is evident, that the self-service buffets of yesterday will most likely not look the same in the future. Hilton Garden Inn & DoubleTree By Hilton Riyadh Financial District follows the requirements of the relevant health authority and we continue to partner with them as we create what Food & Beverage offerings look like in the future.
To meet the needs and comfort level of guests currently, we are relying mostly on grab & go items, a-la-carte service where appropriate, as well as contactless in-room dining experiences. Guests may notice the increased frequency of cleaning public areas, including disinfecting elevator buttons and door handles, as well as additional hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes throughout the property.
Additionally, We are adding an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on doors to indicate to guests that their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned. We’ve also identified the 10 high-touch areas, from light switches to door handles to thermostats, and are focusing on additional disinfection efforts around these hot spots. We’ve removed traditional multiple-guest use materials, such as pens, paper, and other in-room collateral. Also, We are providing guests with disinfecting wipes at primary entrances and key high traffic areas, as well as in-room.
How did you train your staff to perform disinfection and sanitation of the hotel?
Our team members are responsible for delivering on the promise we make to our guests to provide exceptional experiences, every time. Hotel team members have received enhanced training on both overall health and wellness for themselves and new operational standards for cleaning guest areas.
As part of this training, one area we’ve had to rethink are gestures of hospitality. Smiles and touch-greetings such as handshakes were traditionally prevalent in hospitality. We’ve identified alternative ways to offer contactless international cultural best practices for welcoming guests. We are providing Team Members with equipment, enhanced training on both overall health and wellness for themselves and new operational standards for cleaning guest areas, all designed to protect their well-being while continuing to deliver unmatched Hilton hospitality.
What would you advise the hospitality industry in these trying times?
Coronavirus outbreak doesn't mean hoteliers are closing doors and are just waiting for this period to end. It's a perfect time to catch up and improve. Whether it is a spontaneous renovation or completing your Property Improvement Plan, there's no better time to do this.
Considering many new factors such as:
-Self Service pay systems
-Orders using the mobile apps
-Training the teams on multi-tasking to meet the inevitable staff reductions.
As a Cluster General Manager, what steps did you take in ensuring all the departments are aligned in a common goal?
I strongly believe that clear vision, continuous communications, transparency and empowerment are the key factors to align any team to a common goal.. Choosing the right talents and empowering them, then get off their way to make them do what they do best.