COVID-19 The Challenge of Change in Housekeeping
Florida Vacation Connection has taken great strides to ease the fears of guests traveling to our vacation rentals while our country is still battling Coronavirus. While it has been a challenge for all of us through this time of uncertainty, every area of our business has also been challenged with change, but none more than our Housekeeping department. We took a few minutes to discuss the enhanced cleaning measures Florida Vacation Connection is taking in our rentals, and what it took to get to there with our Housekeeping Manager, Wendy.
FVC: To say COVID-19 has been a challenge for those of us in the vacation rental industry is an understatement! What are some of challenges your department was faced with when the realization that COVID-19 was becoming a very serious situation?
WENDY: The end of February and Early March there were a lot of questions. Our entire staff at FVC was on high alert and our cleaning teams were certainly taking more precautions and referring to the several publications on sanitization and disinfection for guidance. But the amount of contradictory information coming out was astounding! Not only for what cleaners killed the virus, or how long we should wait to clean after a guest departs, but also the safety gear our cleaners were supposed to be using to protect themselves. It was nerve wracking. Very stressful. At this time guests were leaving early and cancelling, so it wasn’t such the threat to incoming guests, as we really didn’t have any, but our greatest concern was staff safety entering the units after the guest departures.
FVC: Yes, every single person reading this understands the amount of differing information out there! So how did you overcome the information overload and figure out what to do next?
WENDY: We are active members of national industry groups, Vacation Rental Mangers Association and Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association. Both were wonderful resources for not only clarification of the CDC cleaning guidelines and best practices, but in our almost ‘panicked’ state at the time, it was nice to get the various Zoom conferences to hear about what leaders in the industry were doing with their own cleaning departments. When they say, “we’re in this together”, I can, without hesitation, say the vacation rental industry as a whole really was, and still is in this together.
FVC: Can you tell us more about the SafeHome Policy Florida Vacation Connection put into place?
WENDY: The SafeHome Policy was what was created by gathering the guidelines from all of the CDC, Florida Department of Professional Regulations and industry experts and putting it into an organized document for our staff and cleaning subcontractors to follow when entering, cleaning, and departing a property. There was individual training, special supplies ordered, and we had every one of our cleaners and staff who work in the properties sign the document. Our cleaning teams are amazing at any given time, but they were especially fantastic during all of this transition. There was no hesitation when the new policy went into place. None.
FVC: What do you think the biggest challenge has been with departure cleans? How have you overcome it?
WENDY: Linens! Hands down the biggest challenge! EVERYTHING needs to be washed! It’s a lot of laundry. We have “loaners” here in the office for the bulky bed covers that can’t be sent out and returned by the time the next guests arrive. We have a supply of mattress pads, pillow protectors and anything else that acts as a barrier that needs replaced. We moved a lot of throw pillows and extra blankets to storage to eliminate the challenge of sanitizing soft-surfaces.
FVC: Looking ahead, what do you think the lasting impact of COVID-19 will be on your department?
WENDY: Well, we can all certainly identify high touch areas now! And I think all of us read the labels of cleaning products a lot closer now. And as a whole, I think the “less is more” rule when it comes to the decor in the properties will stick with owners and property managers. Guests want to walk in to a space that looks and feels clean. Many of our properties have gone to WHITE. White sheets, white towels, and white down-alternative bed covers. Bleach, when properly diluted, is a wonderful thing!
FVC: You say guests want a space that looks and feels clean, what else is FVC doing to give the guests that added confidence needed right now to feel safe when traveling?
WENDY: First impression is everything. We want to ease the worry of our guests as soon as possible so they can start their vacation with confidence. After the property is cleaned and inspected, we have a door hanger on the front door that indicates the unit has been cleaned and sanitized for their arrival. In the properties there is a laminated sheet with an overview of our SafeHome procedures, with CDC guidelines for social distancing on the back. A letter to guests informing them that their safety is our top priority is included in their welcome packet. We have yet to have a single cleaning complaint or concern though all of this. Our guests really are our top priority and it shows in how thorough we are in not only our cleans, but our communication with them. We want happy, healthy guests!
For more information on Florida Vacation Connections efforts to provide our guests with a safe and clean vacation rental, we invite you to visit the section of our website designated for COVID-19.