Steve Fenton

Partially cleaned hotel rooms

I walked up and down quite a long hotel corridor a few times today and observed an interesting process for cleaning. Without going into details, the result of all the effort was a line of partially cleaned rooms.

If you have partially cleaned twenty rooms, the number of clean rooms is zero.

It’s the same if you partially write a book, or partially bake a cake, or write some code that will eventually solve a user’s problem (once more code is added). If you start lots of stuff, the number of things completed stays at zero a long time. Often “a long time” is too long.

So, what if we fully cleaned some rooms.

“Ah, but there isn’t time to fully clean them all,” you say, waving a feather duster for emphasis. “We’d only have five fully cleaned rooms.”

That’s five more than you have now. If you are smart with which five you pick… it might even be enough.

At the start of the process, there were twenty rooms in various states.

  • Some were already quite clean, such as those that were empty overnight.
  • Some would be somewhat clean, such as those with guests who like to keep things clean.
  • Some would have not been described as clean at all.

Additionally, some rooms would have guests arriving today and others might remain empty tonight. That’s the first cut. If no guest will be held up by delaying the room, it can be pushed back. It could be cleaned after checkins open for the day without upsetting a customer. It will still be cleaned if necessary, after the rooms that have guests arriving.

If there are still too many rooms to do before guests arrive, you can experiment with strategies for handling the rooms.

If you concentrate on the worst rooms, you’ll get fewer done, but if a guest arrives for one of the cleaner rooms they won’t have to wait as long to get access to their room. You could try out doing the easy rooms first, as you increase the probability that a room will be ready when a guest arrives (assuming pure chance, of course).

The precise method of deciding which rooms to clean before guests arrive is less important if you already chose not to clean some of them… but even a single completed room gives you a better service level than twenty partly clean rooms. (If all twenty were needed, the partial cleaning method means 100% of guests have to wait, whereas it’s lower at 95% on average if you fully clean one room.)

Written by Steve Fenton on