Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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EILEEN KOH

ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER

GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT

How long have you been in the industry? Five years.

What do you do on a daily basis? Apart from overseeing housekeeping duties, I also plan the shift rosters for the room attendants, supervisors and managers. I have to make sure that we are adequately staffed to do everything that needs to be done.

I attend meetings as well, where I catch up with my colleagues from other departments, sharing relevant information with each other and planning how we can work better together. I also meet up with suppliers to find out more about new systems or technologies that can improve the housekeeping department, and help us perform our jobs better.

Why did you choose to join housekeeping, of all departments? I think housekeeping plays a very crucial role. We’re like the backbone of the hotel. The rooms are where our guests spend a lot of their time, and that’s where we can really impress them and make their stay more memorable.

How do you think housekeeping can impact a guest’s stay? I always say, it’s when you pay attention to the smallest details that you leave the deepest impressions. More than that, you create special memories for your guests that last a long time.

For example, we’re the first to know when a guest is ill, because we’ll see their medicine in the room. When we notice such things, we’ll try to act on that. We’ll let other relevant departments know about this, so we can all work together to improve the guest’s stay. Sometimes, we will also leave them hand-written cards or fruits to make them feel better.

How do you personally try to make your guests happy during their stay or visit? I try to fulfil their requests as far as possible. Some guests may have very challenging requests, but when you take on that challenge and turn it into a positive experience for them, you can really wow them and turn them into loyal customers.

I also try to lead my team by example, making sure that I keep up a high standard of service and professionalism. On top of that, I always emphasise the importance of working as a team to maintain our excellent service standards. That way, our guests will always return to a perfectly clean room.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? The uncertainty and excitement. Every day is a new day, and it’s not like a regular nine-to-five job. It never becomes a routine, as I get to meet all kinds of guests with different stories to tell. I don’t think I can get that in other industries.

Also, by working with different types of guests, you learn how to handle a wide range of requests and think on your feet, no matter how challenging they may seem.

For example, we once had a guest who was very particular about his belongings. It was quite a challenge for housekeeping because we had to clean the room without touching any of his belongings. But we managed to work around that and made sure that his room was clean and comfortable. He was very satisfied with our professionalism.

So whatever challenge we face, I think it is important to have a good attitude. If you react negatively to a challenging request, you will start to form a negative mindset about the work, and you might end up not helping the guest with his request or giving it your best effort.

What’s your most memorable experience working in the Business of Happiness? There have been quite a few, but one that comes to mind would be when I helped a guest decorate his room for his 25th wedding anniversary.

Our reservations team got to know about his plans, and they informed us about it. So we used our embroidery machine to embroider the guests’ names onto the bath towels, face towels and bath robes. We also gave them customised pillow cases, created a rose petal arrangement in the room and prepared a bouquet of flowers for him to give to his wife. I’m glad they appreciated the gesture.

What have you learned over the years in the industry? I was part of a management trainee programme, so I had the opportunity to rotate across different departments. That experience showed me how the other departments operate and allowed me to forge relationships with different colleagues. That was an advantage that has helped me in my housekeeping career. Knowing how the other departments function makes it much easier for all of us to communicate and cooperate to create a pleasant experience for our guests.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to join the industry? You may not feel a strong passion for hospitality when you start, but it’ll grow on you as you go along. Just give it a try – it’s a very interesting industry! No matter which department you join, you’ll learn many different things. Take me, for example. I didn’t just learn about housekeeping; I also got to learn new skills about the operational side of things, like managing manpower and resources. It’s always exciting, and you’ll always have something to look forward to at work every day.