The first panel at the Hotelier Executive Housekeeper Forum 2017. The first panel at the Hotelier Executive Housekeeper Forum 2017.

A well defined career progression is vital for housekeepers to grow within the industry, and the perception that they cannot take on higher roles within a property needs to change.

This was the key sentiment that resonated across the first panel discussion at the fifth annual Executive Housekeeper Forum.

Emirates Palace executive housekeeper Pamini Hemaprabha said: “It’s just a perception that housekeepers cannot make it to higher opportunities. Hence, we need to achieve the right balance in the hospitality sector. Nine out of 10 general managers come from a F&B, front office or sales and marketing background and there is no one from housekeeping [who makes it to the top].”

Hemaprabha who is also the rooms division specialist for IMEA Region and master trainer worldwide added: “More and more general managers should come from a housekeeping background and that perception needs to change. And housekeepers need to fight for it and be more vocal about it. While not all want to go in that direction, some of us would definitely like to… [become general managers].

“At Emirates Palace and Kempinski we are constantly trying to push this idea that housekeepers can make it to higher positions. It’s often the front office manager that is considered for the director of rooms’ position and not always the executive housekeeper. This means, the front office manager, who would report to the executive housekeeper has to now report to them. It’s a vice-versa situation, and something I can never understand,” she said.

Hilton Dubai The Walk executive housekeeper Kishore Kumar Pemmasani emphasised the importance of acquiring a wider skill set. “As housekeepers we manage several aspects of the hotel, and yes we do need to acquire additional skills – food and beverage and finance for instance - if we want to rise in the industry. Once we do, there is no doubt the executive housekeeper can achieve more,” he said.

Meanwhile Cristal Hotels & Resorts corporate executive housekeeper Tushara Rathnayake said: “People often question the revenue generation ratios of housekeepers, but we are the largest and the biggest production department in the hotel. At the end of the day, the bottom line is a reflection of the work we have done.”

The fifth annual Hotelier Executive Housekeeper Forum was held at the Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina on May 3.

A post show report will be published in the June issue of Hotelier Middle East.

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