THE hotel industry may be a people-centric business at heart, but using technology in the right way can help raise productivity while enhancing the work environment for employees.
The Rendezvous Grand Hotel is doing just that to tackle some of the issues that hoteliers are facing in an ever-changing industry, while still recognising the importance of its staff.
In housekeeping - a department where it is usually hard to find willing staff - the hotel's employees are typically in the 50-60 year age bracket.
"We implemented things like ezi maid, a contraption we put under the bed. It's like a car jack, it lifts the bed so that they can make the bed without injuring their back. Another contraption we just introduced is the motorised trolley," says general manager Kellvin Ong.
About 80 per cent of the $68,650 cost of the 138 ezi maid bed lifters was covered by a grant.
And though the motorised trolley is three times the price of the usual trolley, it is easier for the housekeeping staff to push and it allows them to move faster.
In addition, the pantry area on each floor has been expanded, allowing staff to park two trolleys on each floor, saving time and effort as they no longer have to bring the trolleys up from the basement every day.
"Initially, with the older workers, we had some resistance. We had to conduct a training session to show them how to use the trolley, before they accepted it," Mr Ong adds.
Aside from that, the hotel has installed a programme that allows housekeeping staff to release a room to the front desk for bookings once they are done with cleaning it, which helps operations to run more smoothly.
In addition to helping its core team boost productivity, the hotel is also getting creative in dealing with the labour crunch, especially when it runs at higher occupancies.
While it used to have a regular pool of part-timers, it lost some of them during its refurbishment period when there was less demand for part-time employees. The 298-room hotel and its adjoining retail podium, Rendezvous Gallery, recently went through a $25-million renovation programme, which was conducted in phases.
"With housekeeping, for example, we do outsource - we have both our current force and additionally, we do hire contract staff. We work with reputable agencies (and) we do work with one or two that we're very comfortable with. We have a training programme for (them) to come in for a couple of days to learn our standards," he highlights.