Looking to the Avari Towers for cleanliness

Late last year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) published a scathing report about germ concentrations and cleanliness in some of Canada’s top hotels in the three largest cities of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Given that the CBC is a national television provider, I’m sure you can imagine the impact such a testimony from a credible source would have on these properties’ reputations. Visit the CBC’s fully interactive website here.

This report serves as a chilling reminder that cleanliness is godliness. Guests expect celestially pristine rooms, or they’d take their frustration out on you with bad word of mouth and negative comments in the online realm. There’s no cutting corners on this one. Housekeeping is thus integral to a quality experience and overall guest satisfaction.

Obviously, the call to action here is to take steps that ensure your cleaning services are top notch and continually improving. The CBC hired private investigators to spruce up their exposé with hard and “dirty” facts on each hotel, so why not beat them to the punch by appointing your own external auditors? That way you know exactly where you’ve gone wrong, and hopefully have time for necessary corrections prior to any reputation-damaging critiques hitting the web.

That’s one very practicable (but rather expensive) solution, but after discussing the matter in a little more depth with my friend Gordon James Gorman, the GM at the Avari Towers in Karachi, Pakistan, there is perhaps another solution that entails quite a bit more fanfare. For reference, I wrote a full case study on the Avari Towers’ unique situation within this turbulent Pakistani port city of 14 million souls, which you can read here. The key to the Avari Towers’ adaptation and success lies in good old-fashioned service, and the hotel’s housekeeping quality control definitely fits this profile. The Avari Towers enjoys the best ADR and RevPAR in the country and is often boasted as the cleanest establishment in Pakistan. Take a look at their TripAdvisor comments and see for yourself.

Within a week of taking on the GM role at this property, Gorman instituted the 5@5 program whereby he and four other senior directors assemble everyday at 5 p.m. to inspect five rooms at random. Once every room and suite on property has been examined, the process begins anew. These inspections are followed by a systematic reporting system where managers must coordinate any required changes immediately afterwards in addition to a follow-up discussion of faults with the respective teams the next morning.

Whereas hired guns take the clandestine approach, this quintuplet of managers is fully visible for staff and guests alike. True, they might not use all the latest in high-tech gadgetry to uncover any missed microbes, but this noticeable quality assurance team sends a clear message — the senior level believes wholeheartedly in cleanliness and room maintenance.

And this belief will percolate down to every worker throughout the organization. If the directors are committed to support the executive housekeeper in recognizing the importance of proper housekeeping, then so will the housekeepers. The random selection of rooms serves to only further propagate voluntary adherence to the highest of cleanliness standards. As additional incentive, the top-performing housekeeping team receives a cash prize and a special lunch at one of the Avari Towers’ premier restaurants with Gorman himself to discuss their successes as well as any ideas for future improvements.

This 5@5 system no doubt takes up a fair portion of management’s time, but the results speak for themselves. The staff cares about the guestrooms because their supervisors do as well — leadership at its finest as well as a great example of how a small change can go a long way towards guest service perfection. Gorman says you are free to use the 5@5 system in your property, so take him up on his offer!