The laundry department may be behind the scenes, but its work is at the forefront of the hotel guest experience, says Sandra De Sousa
The laundry department at the Hyatt Regency London – the Churchill hotel seems like an easy entry-level position for a young person looking to break into the hospitality industry.
It provides an opportunity for someone to work their way up the career ladder within hotels and many have done it with me very successfully over the years. But to achieve that, we have to find ways to motivate, train, coach and persevere to develop ourselves and our staff to be their best.
Who wants to wash dirty clothes and work in a role that is physically hard every day? But the department is much more than dirty clothes.
The laundry department is 'invisible' to our guests, working behind the scenes and seen as one of the lowest-skilled jobs in the industry – but I can assure you that's not the case. The job is expected to be carried out to perfection.
At the Churchill, we aim to deliver laundry back to the guest as new, with a personalised touch. From picking it up to cleaning, ironing, packing and delivering it back again, all steps have to be taken with extreme efficiency, organisation, and professionalism, as a small mistake may destroy a guest's valuable item, and that can be a very disturbing experience for our guests. We understand that items are extremely valuable because some can have a very personal significance.
How nice is it to have your laundry delivered nicely packed, clean, fresh and ready to wear? I would find it amazing, and for that matter, we aim every day to meet the guests' expectations and get valuable feedback on their experiences and feelings throughout their stay. We are very lucky to have great guests that appreciate our service, and as a head valet, I'm very proud to manage a laundry department that allows me to be myself every day.
Aside from the guests, we also have the pleasure of meeting our new colleagues first-hand, as they all have to come to the valet department to collect their uniforms when they begin their new roles. It is extremely rewarding to help all co-workers look smart and professional on a day-to-day basis so they can do their best for the guests, staff and our hotel in general. And the added bonus is that we are able to start creating great connections straight away with all our new colleagues.
As a head valet, it's my responsibility to ensure this part of the business is running as smoothly and professionally as possible for everyone that we encounter in our working day, and I will continue to run the 'invisible' department with as much pride and motivation as I can.
Sandra De Sousa is head valet at Hyatt Regency London the Churchill
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