4 preventive measures to reduce costly hospitality repairs and ensure guest comfort
By Bob Winter
Hotels thrive on keeping guests comfortable and content, but system or equipment malfunctions during a guest’s stay can negatively impact their experience. Some of the most common complaints of hotel guests involve temperature control in their room and plumbing issues, like a lack of hot water, low water pressure, or poor flushing. While it’s hard to please everyone, making sure that equipment and components are always kept fully functional is paramount to ensuring a good guest experience.
There is certainly a relationship between good design and the ability to implement good maintenance practices; if equipment is designed and installed to be difficult to access, then maintaining it will be problematic. I experienced these issues in my first job out of college, when I ran a Preventive Maintenance (PM) program for a major hotel brand at two different properties. We performed all the maintenance on all systems in the hotel with an in-house crew of technicians and building engineers. All equipment was documented, and maintenance checks were performed on a pre-scheduled basis with weekly, monthly, semi-annual, and annual evaluations.
At IMEG, our hospitality designs take a wholistic look at a guest’s experience and the infrastructure needed to support a hotel’s program and comply with building codes and brand standards. But if you don’t take the steps to monitor your equipment or train your staff, you could end up paying more to fix broken equipment and disrupting your guests’ stay. Implementing preventive measures in your facility’s maintenance program not only cuts down on costly unscheduled repairs, it ensures all guests feel comfortable and welcome. Here are some preventive measures you can take:
1. Implement a maintenance program using management software
The unofficial rule of hotel maintenance is the 80/20 ratio: dedicate 80 percent of your staff’s time to prevention and 20 percent to unplanned issues that arise. To streamline the process, consider integrating PM software into your program that will provide work orders for all catalogued equipment on a predetermined schedule. Depending on the size of the property and the systems in the building, this could easily be a full-time job for one or numerous staff members. A benefit of this practice is that a parts catalog can be created that, with proper management, ensures you will have a stock of components on site such as belts, motors, electronics, etc. This will help to prevent unnecessary downtime.
2. Check safety features first
For guests to feel comfortable, it’s important for them to be safe. While most of these systems are “invisible“ to the guest, make sure your life safety systems – such as the emergency generator, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and door locking mechanisms – are always functioning correctly and required operational tests are performed regularly. Clearly, it is important for these systems to be included in the PM program.
3. Audit your systems
Monitor the operation of your systems through your building automation system (BAS) or, if your property doesn’t have a BAS, through local DDC controls on the equipment that can provide trending data. This will allow you to identify equipment that may not be performing as it should and solve any problems before complaints or costly repairs are needed. If you examine your equipment’s performance frequently, trends may reveal equipment that is consistently underperforming.
4. Don’t forget the small appliances
If your guest rooms offer amenities such as a kitchenette, mini-fridge, or even just a coffee maker, you’ll need to regularly test all appliances to make sure they are working properly. This could either be assigned to housekeeping or a rooms mechanic, depending on the property.
Unfortunately, it may be impossible to prevent all system malfunctions in your hotel, but by taking preventive measures and training your staff to be flexible and proactive, you can minimize unscheduled maintenance issues and create a consistent and comfortable experience for your guests.
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