“The best part of the hospitality sector is that it makes you loyal, civilized, ever-smiling, courteous, and much more.”
- Suresh Khadka, Executive Housekeeper, InterContinental Muscat Hotel
Suresh Khadka recently won the Best Regional Hotel Housekeeper of the year title at the MECHF awards. So it is natural that many would like to know more about him. Suresh works at the iconic InterContinental Muscat Hotel, an international 5 star chain hotel in Oman, opened in 1977. The hotel has beautiful 270 rooms and various F&B outlets. He works as the hotel’s Executive Housekeeper and Hotel Experience Champion, leading both the housekeeping and laundry teams. He also leads the IHG Way of Clean program in the region (7 IHG Hotels in Oman) as well as leads the Oman Housekeepers Association.
Namaste! I am Suresh Khadka from the land of Mount Everest and from the country where Gautam Buddha was born, Nepal. For the last 11 years, I am in this beautiful country of Oman working at InterContinental Muscat in the position of Executive Housekeeper.
Your experience and years in the industry
It’s been more than 18 years in the industry now. I started my career in the year 2003 as a Trainee in the Housekeeping department at Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Kathmandu. Soaltee Crowne Plaza is always in my heart because it groomed me from a very basic level and has been a milestone in my career. I moved to India in the year 2008 as an Assistant Manager, Housekeeping. After 2 and a half years of a beautiful journey with a hotel in Ooty. After this, I moved to Pre-Opening Property Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini. It was a different experience and a good learning stage working for a new pre-opening hotel.
In the year 2011, I moved to Oman - a different land, a different culture, and a different guest mix, working for Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah as an Assistant Executive Housekeeper. A year later I got promoted to Executive Housekeeper, my first property working as a HOD.
I moved to the capital city of this beautiful country Oman in the year 2017 working for InterContinental Muscat hotel as an Executive Housekeeper and the Oman region champion for the IHG Way of Clean Program. To date, I am working in this iconic property and associated with Intercontinental Hotels Group from past more than 18 years.
How did you get into the hospitality industry and how have you grown since then?
The hospitality sector was not my first choice. In fact, generation after generation of my family has served in the army, I also wanted to pursue the same profession. However, I ultimately chose the hospitality sector and to date, I have never regretted my decision. I am loving it and enjoying my work.
What drives you and your career?
Your work satisfaction is the main driving factor, at the end of the day how much you are satisfied with your work drives you ahead. You cannot get success alone or built a good career alone when you are in a team or leading a team. Support of the team, motivations, your confidence level, achieving goals or winning together as a team gives your a boost and inspiration to drive your success and career ahead.
An accomplishment that shaped your career
My experience and learning on my career journey with different IHG properties in different countries have helped me shape my career. All the 5 different properties that I worked for are of different types and have their own working style. Kathmandu, my own place and the best standard set hotel gave me a strong foundation, later when I moved to the southern part of India, I learned people management and different hospitality culture. New Delhi, the capital city of India was a different working environment. In the Middle East, working hand to hand with local colleagues, and learning Omani as well as Arabic hospitality gives me very good knowledge and confidence level to shape my career further.
The best part of your job
The best part of the hospitality sector is that it makes you loyal, civilized, ever-smiling, courteous, and much more. You can have interaction with the people all over the world, you will know them and their culture. As a housekeeper, I take pride in what I am doing, I am responsible to set a ‘’Culture of Clean” on the property and make sure the area is hygienic. Besides that, I am grooming people by training, mentoring, motivating, inspiring, and showing them the right path in their careers ahead, which I feel is the best part of my job and I am really proud of.
The most challenging aspect of your job
The most challenging aspect of the housekeeper these days is meeting the guest expectations. After the pandemic, the expectation of the guest in terms of cleaning and hygiene has gone very high. “Cleaning is not only cleaning now”. There is a lot to do, now people will notice and show their concern about it.
Moreover, fewer people are interested in joining cleaning department. Only the ones who have no other option to earn their bread and butter are joining the team. This trend is also visible when it comes to hiring the cleaning staff from the facility company to save the cost and liabilities. This is problematic on so many fronts - firstly, their education and understanding level is very less, they don’t have that 5* hospitality culture. When they are finally trained as per our standards, they move to other hotel and the process has to start all over again. It’s a cycle and the third-party company is not liable for it as well. This is the biggest challenge to getting the right workforce in the cleaning department.
Why is sustainability is important to you?
As a leader, it’s very important to drive results and be committed to achieving them.
Housekeeping operations are very challenging and we have an added responsibility to perform well in terms of quality, cost, people, environment, etc.
We are very much committed to maintaining a high level of service quality in the hotel by regular training, scheduling, inspecting, coaching, and motivating colleagues.Providing a satisfying experience to our guests is the main moto of housekeeping operations now.
As a housekeeper we have a big role to play for the environment as well, we are running the project “Plastic Not So Fantastic”. We are eliminating plastic from our operation by using non-oven material for the laundry bag, pillow bag, guest laundry delivery cover, garbage bags also bio-degradable, and no more plastic water bottles in guest rooms. Our water project is our very own carbonated water unit installed inside the hotel filled in a standard glass water bottle to reduce the negative impact of the plastic on our environment and to make our hotel eco-friendly as possible as we can.
Housekeeping practices you follow
Nothing repels guests more than poor housekeeping.
The entire housekeeping team is committed to maintaining the best hygiene level and cleaning standards. The best housekeeping practices include teamwork with a common goal, no compromise on the quality of service, regular trainings and audits, checklists, good communication with the team, motivation, reward and recognition and keeping the worker’s career plan in mind to keep their morale high all the time.
Cleaning practices at your hotel
We have a very good toolkit and guideline for cleaning which all the IHG hotels around the globe are using called the IHG Way of Clean 5-S Cleaning Program. This is the systemic process of cleaning which has everything inside it. Training materials, checklist, guidelines, mobile audit app, deficiency reports, everything which is a complete package for the standard cleaning.
The latest products (chemicals & equipment) that are in use
After the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of companies have come up with chemicals and machines for cleaning and sanitization. Since we have a global tie-up with the international and well-known company Diversey, we are using all the IHG recommended chemicals from them for cleaning and sanitation which is effective and trustable as well. We are using both the ULV fogging machine and the Victory spray machine to sanitize our area.
The latest technologies that make cleaning an easy job
Cleaning has never been as easy a job as people think. Mainly it requires a physical workforce, minds along with technology. The best cleaning result will come out when we utilize all these in the right way. We are using all the available resources around to keep the area cleaned and hygienic. These include scrubbing machines, ULV fogging machine, spray guns, colour coded microfiber dusters, eco-friendly chemicals, UV torchlight to inspect the room, mobile audit apps, etc.
Training provided to the cleaning staff
In every organization training is not only important, it is vital. It gives every employee a great understanding of their responsibilities and their knowledge to perform their job in the right manner. This will build their confidence level and helps to improve their overall work performance.
Despite the cost invested in training for the employees, the ROI is immense if it is done in the right way, at the right time, and consistently. There are lots of benefits to training your employee; it will improve the skills and knowledge of the staff, built confidence in them, increase productivity, prepares the employee for the higher responsibilities, colleagues will feel valued in the company and employee turnover will decrease and much more.
We have our dedicated departmental training coordinator with a proper training plan along with some mandatory online training.
Challenges you have faced
Challenges are there in every profession and in every sector, very important is how you tackle and overcome these challenges.
Manning, budgeting, work rigid, change management, workload and pressure are the common challenges we will face in our profession, but we have to plan well, work on it, and have to overcome them professionally. This is life.
What kind of innovations do you think will help in your cleaning processes
Any innovation which is user-friendly and has more impact in terms of productivity and cost-saving in our profession will help a lot. Keeping in a mind the user/handler who is directly involved in the cleaning process (their education, mindset and level of understanding) are the main concern for any new changes and implementation of the innovation.
The future of the cleaning industry
Cleaning and hygiene are something needed everywhere. So I can say this profession and industry has a very bright future and challenging too which we know during the COVID – 19 pandemic as well. I believe we can do much more, we can prove much more and we can advance much more. All the best wishes to all who are working very hard in this industry and trying to innovate new ways of the cleaning process, chemicals, types of equipment, and much more.