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Understanding the mirror effect


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May 13, 2024
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Room Attendants have a more intimate contact with guests than any other hotel employee. They will see a kind of lifestyle in some of the rooms they are dealing with which guests would not want to disclose to the outside world, afraid they might lose their good image if they did.

So - why are they apparently not afraid to lose their good image in front of room attendants?

It is not only because they trust the discretion of a hotel's employee.

What if they simply think that an attendant will think nothing of them after he gets to see when he is cleaning - because he is ONLY a cleaner who is NEITHER required NOR PAID to think a lot by the nature of his job.'

Whether this pleases us or not - but different studies on Guest Behaviour have shown that Guests are indeed displaying - often unknowingly - an entirely different behaviour when dealing with the receptionist than when they are dealing with a waiter - and again, when they are dealing with a Room Attendant.

Understanding the mirror effect

The higher the level of education that is needed in order to carry out a job — the greater is the need of a guest to display his own level of education or social status. It is what is known as the MIRROR-EFFECT.

So - what does this tell us about how your job at the hotel is perceived if you are finding a room in a big mess, with clothes scattered all over, suggesting that the room is occupied by a 5 year old, messy child - and not by a 45-year old, most successful businessman with the appropriate education and so deal status going with it.

Well, it certainly suggests that a guest does not seem to be impressed at all by a hotel's fine interior - or else his soiled shoes and clothes would not be thrown on an opulent furniture.

What it suggests in regards to how your position at the hotel is perceived by many guests, Is of no importance to you at that time, because you still need to clean the messiest room - whether it is occupied by a five year old or by a grown-up businessman.

But it should give your hotel something to think about if a hotel room is treated with such little respect:


Room attendants shape the hotel image

Room Attendants are the service providers of the main product of a hotel and carry a major part of the hotel's image within the industry. And it is the hotel's good image that will determine its success within the industry.

If a hotel’s image is not respected in some parts of the hotel - a hotel should be interested in treating that part, because it is vital to be respected as a whole - not just partly to survive in an industry that is steadily growing, with competitors popping up like trees that need and will be cared for.

A hotel can call itself a successful hotel only if a guest is able to recognize its good image in every detail throughout the hotel.

Why gaining knowledge is important

Product knowledge for room attendants will not only raise their own awareness of how a hotel works - but also raise the awareness of guests as to the amount of knowledge these housekeeping employees are required to have on the business which they are such a vital part of.

If one day you are entering a room that has been occupied by a 45-year old businessman who used to act like a 5-year old child before and after you demonstrated how well equipped you are with product knowledge you find that the room looks like it has hardly been touched at all, then you know that you finally have gained the respect you deserve.

Gaining knowledge through colleagues, peers & actively participation in different forums or online discussions are the trends, what’s more interesting coming up is “ Housekeepers & Laundry summits “ where you gets an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge from industry Leaders , manufacturers & vendors , forums where you can Ideate –debate – Celebrate Housekeeping  .

The future will change, always remember & trust:

“A superior physical product is just a beginning & can be copied with an extra fizz but what cannot be duplicated is the superior service culture that emanates through OUR PEOPLE & Systems we follow “


About the author

Prabhat Shukla is the Director of Housekeeping and Quality at InterContinental, Doha The City. He is also the Chairperson of the Qatar Housekeepers Association.