2020, 2021 and 2022 proved to be pretty rough years for the hospitality industry. This phase in Saudi Arabia was marked by long spells of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and heightened awareness of the many ways that disease can be spread in shared environments. Fortunately, now things are looking better and brighter.
However, what cannot be denied is the extreme scrutiny that hotel housekeeping was and is subjected to. While heightened cleaning and documentation requirements aren’t new anymore, they are the new normal. Cleaning requirements will remain at an all time high and this is a major strain on your resources. The workload to keep all areas pristine--and document the process--is overwhelming to many housekeeping teams. For Saudi Arabia, where the tourism and economy, together witness a boom, these factors could mean even greater workload for housekeeping teams.
We spoke to Mr. Mazhar Malik, Cluster Executive Housekeeper at Rotana Hotel Management Corporation PJSC, Saudi Arabia about the potential challenges and opportunities for housekeeping in Saudi Arabia!
Current housekeeping challenges
1. Heightened guest expectations
One of the biggest challenges facing housekeeping professionals in the region in general, and KSA specifically, is the ever-increasing standards of properties. This in turn heightens guest expectation, which can put a severe strain on the housekeeping department when it comes to service quality.
2. Approval process
Another factor is the often-lengthy approval process for acquiring new in-room technology. While the process may vary with individual hotel operators, a majority go through trial steps by the housekeeping department, following which the application goes to the general manager, which, if approved then moves to the procurement department before finally being signed off by the managing director or group director. Unsurprisingly, the entire process can take up to several months from initial pitch to sign-off.
There is then the thorny issue of budgets. With an increasing strain on the bottom-line, budgets can be severely restricted, which makes investment in new in-room technology a bigger challenge than ever before.
Housekeeping opportunities to look out for
The most exciting aspect of the hospitality industry in the KSA is that it is witnessing exponential growth. While earlier this would have been centered in larger cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, in 2022 we saw a spurt of new development in other cities, too.
This bodes well for the industry. In general, the luxury market is continuing to register high demand, which is also a contributing factor to the overall stability of the industry in general. Finally, what excites us most is the never-ending stream of unique new hotel and restaurant concepts across the kingdom. Unceasing innovation and it is heartening to see such high levels of creativity in the hospitality industry in the kingdom.