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What Is Hotel Maintenance?

October 23, 2020

What Is Hotel Maintenance?

Hotel maintenance is the combination of all maintenance activities necessary to keep hotel facilities in excellent condition. If you want to ensure guests are happy enough to return and write rave reviews about your establishment on Yelp, keeping hotel assets in top condition is essential.

Hotel maintenance is similar to building maintenance. Both involve caring for the same primary assets: HVAC and electrical and plumbing systems. However, the hospitality industry has additional maintenance needs tightly related to reputation management and safety. The quality of hotel mattresses, elevators, swimming pools, and gymnasium equipment can easily make or break guest experiences. 

Why Is Maintenance Important in a Hotel?

Maintaining customer satisfaction is key to succeeding as a hotel franchise. Guests will complain if something isn’t working—to you, their friends, and strangers on the Internet. As reported by Inc., it takes approximately 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage caused by one bad review. 

One study conducted by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration found the main factors that drive customer satisfaction to be room quality (24%) and the hotel’s facilities (19%). Hotel maintenance teams must proactively conduct inspections to ensure facility equipment is safe and always operating in top shape. 

For example, bad lighting is one of the common complaints voiced by hotel visitors—nobody likes the feeling of walking down a dark hotel corridor. Routine maintenance easily avoids this situation. 

Additionally, hotel maintenance helps establishments to: 

  • Avoid downtime and ensure room availability.
  • Enhance the safety of guests and personnel.
  • Reduce operational costs.
  • Increase the lifespan of assets.

From a management perspective, hitting annual revenue goals is contingent upon preventing downtime during high-seasons. For example, say a hotel charges $150 per room and needs to shut down 10 rooms for two nights for reactive maintenance—this adds up to $3,000 in lost revenue. 

The solution is an organized preventive maintenance (PM) program and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to assign recurring PMs, manage asset history, and enhance team communication so necessary repairs don’t fall through the cracks. 

What Businesses Use Hotel Maintenance? 

There are a few different types of businesses in the hospitality industry. Each one has specific maintenance needs, including:

  • Hotels: From big to small, all hotels need upkeep and regular maintenance, and their success depends heavily on the condition of their rooms, common areas, and equipment. 
  • Resorts: Resorts in remote areas need to supply their own electricity and water and manage their waste disposal. 
  • Serviced apartments: Serviced apartments require less upkeep than other facilities, but still need regular maintenance. 
  • Timeshare rentals: Timeshare rentals, in which you purchase accommodation for a period of time, come with their own maintenance costs and needs.

Types of Maintenance in the Hotel Industry 

Hotel maintenance typically falls into one of these three categories: 

Reactive Maintenance: Reactive maintenance means fixing something only after it breaks down, for example, repairing a malfunctioning HVAC unit. For some assets, reactive maintenance makes sense, such as with non-critical equipment that is cheap and easy to replace. For others, such as an electrical system, downtime can be very costly, which means preventive maintenance systems must be in place. 

Preventive Maintenance: Preventive maintenance aims to proactively resolve issues before they turn into problems—and, most importantly, before they lead to guests’ complaints. Preventive maintenance requires having a maintenance schedule in place and checking the condition of assets regularly.

Major Maintenance Projects: Big projects take time to plan and complete, which means that they’re usually scheduled during the offseason. An example is upgrading the whole HVAC system or optimizing your electrical system in order to lower consumption. Electricity is the biggest utility expenditure in the hospitality industry, accounting for 60 percent of all utility costs

Examples of Hotel Maintenance 

There are three main types of hotel maintenance workers, who work together to maintain the hotel’s assets:

  • Maintenance Technicians: Maintenance technicians are responsible for the upkeep of the hotel’s assets, which they inspect and service. 
  • Maintenance Managers: Maintenance managers organize the maintenance team’s work and make sure it has the necessary resources.
  • Maintenance Engineers: Hotels with higher maintenance needs may also hire hotel maintenance engineers to oversee and optimize the maintenance team’s work and work closely with hotel maintenance managers. 

Hotels’ maintenance needs are diverse. This means that maintenance personnel must have broad expertise and be able to quickly adapt to new challenges and find solutions to all kinds of problems. 

Assets and Systems That Require Maintenance 

In each hotel, there are a number of different systems and types of equipment that maintenance workers must service:

  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Electricity and lighting
  • Rooms’ furniture
  • Telephone lines
  • Security 
  • Cable TV
  • Refrigeration
  • Kitchen and dining area
  • Elevators and escalators
  • Water sprinklers and fire extinguishers

All equipment and systems need to be kept in excellent working condition at all times.

Examples of Hotel Maintenance Tasks

Below are daily tasks completed by hotel maintenance workers: 

  • Service the HVAC system and HVAC units
  • Set optimal temperature levels in common areas
  • Inspect electrical systems
  • Fix issues with plumbing, such as leakages and faulty faucets
  • Rotate and maintain locks
  • Ensure lighting system functions well 
  • Service elevators 
  • Make sure that walls, furniture, and floors are in excellent condition

As you can see, the tasks of the hotel maintenance personnel are diverse and require meticulous planning.  

6 Ways to Streamline Hotel Maintenance

So, how do you maintain a hotel? A top-notch hotel maintenance program has a few key components. Let’s discuss each one of them.

1. Implement a Proactive Maintenance Program

If your approach to maintenance is entirely reactive, you’re jeopardizing both your hotel’s reputation and the safety of your guests and personnel. Having a proactive maintenance program in place helps keep guests happy. It also means that your maintenance costs will be lower and more predictable. 

2. Use Hotel Maintenance Software

The best way to ensure work is completed on time is to automate a part of the maintenance scheduling and workflows. Hotel maintenance software, such as a CMMS, helps management plan tasks in advance, schedule recurring work orders, and react quickly to breakdowns. 

3. Invest in Staff Training

Turnover in the hospitality industry is a whopping 73.8 percent one of the highest compared to other industries. Investing in staff training shows your employees that you value them and care about their professional development—and helps you better maintain your hotel. If your maintenance personnel is trained to fix most problems, you won’t need to depend on contractors, who may or may not be available when you need them. 

Educate your personnel—everyone, not just your maintenance team—on the importance of preventive maintenance. Ask them to immediately signal any issues they see, so that you can schedule maintenance works before your guests complain. 

4. Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) that your staff can rely on, whenever they need to service an asset. Make your SOPs easy to consult, and use checklists that are easy to follow. SOPs and checklists help you and your team stay organized and accountable. 

5. Use an Inventory Management System

For a hotel to function smoothly, the maintenance team needs to have the necessary inventory—tools, spare parts, materials—to do its job. Consider tracking your inventory with the help of a CMMS so that you can receive automatic notifications when you need to order anything.

It’s also important to know where your inventory is located if you have a few storage rooms, so that maintenance personnel can quickly find what they need. 

6. Know Your Numbers

To maintain your hotel well, you need to track your numbers and analyze how they progress. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are: 

  • Asset downtime and availability
  • Asset condition (on a scale)
  • Reactive to preventive maintenance ratio
  • Maintenance costs
  • Work order resolution times
  • Number of customer complaints related to maintenance

These statistics provide valuable insights into the state of your maintenance program, as well as its evolution. This way, you can identify important issues and overall trends and improve over time. 

Hotel Maintenance Certification & Training Programs

In the hospitality industry, employees need to prove performance excellence (skills, knowledge, experience) to compete in the job market. This makes certification important when seeking to advance your career as a hotel maintenance professional. 

Certification is usually available after you gain a few years of experience and can be obtained before you start. Two of the the most widely recognized certifications for hotel maintenance are:

  • The Certified Chief Engineer (CCE) program of the National Association of Hotel & Lodging Engineers (NAHLE), for hotel maintenance workers and engineers. 

FAQ: Hotel Maintenance 

Who Is Responsible for Managing the Facilities in a Hotel? 

The hotel maintenance technician is responsible for keeping all equipment in excellent condition. Bigger hotels will have dedicated maintenance teams or departments and a manager. Maintenance managers are accountable for planning and scheduling maintenance tasks, and need to make sure that their team has the necessary resources to carry out maintenance work on time. 

In some cases, hotels hire contractors for specific maintenance tasks. This is done either when the tasks are particularly complex, or when they don’t have enough staff to handle the work, for example in an emergency. 

What Is Preventive Maintenance in a Hotel? 

Preventive maintenance is essential for hotels to ensure that all equipment is in good condition at all times, which prevents both guests’ complaints, ensures safety, and reduces asset downtime. 

If you’re relying exclusively on reactive maintenance (i.e. fixing things after they break), your team may be stretched too thin, running after the most urgent issues. This also means that less urgent tasks fall between the cracks and aren’t taken care of—which could lead to more problems down the line. 

Is Hotel Maintenance a “Good” Job?

Hotel maintenance workers work with different systems—HVAC, plumbing, electricity, and more—which means they need to be well-rounded professionals with many different skills. 

Four- and five-stars hotels, such as international chains and local boutique hotels, can provide very good working conditions and job security, especially as you advance in your career. They’ll generally invest more money and effort into maintaining their facilities because they rely heavily on their reputation. 

The job requirements, as well as wages, can vary widely between different hotels. The salary of hotel maintenance technicians in the US falls in the range of $35,978 and $49,093, with a median of $41,674.

Conclusion

Each hotel’s maintenance requirements are different, depending on its size, location, and amenities offered. Regardless, every hospitality facility shares the same primary goal: to keep hotel guests safe, happy, and comfortable. Hotel maintenance software provides operational managers with the peace of mind that no asset upkeep will be overlooked—which is crucial to success, especially during busy seasons. 

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