In the first of our monthly case studies, facilities management Middle East looks at the hospitality industry and reports back on the Fairmont Hotel's strict maintenance procedures and the systems it uses to help keep those 5* standards.
The Fairmont hotel is visible from most of Dubai with its four main points located at the top of the building. Its distinguished design gives it an individual appeal with the interiors helping to set the scene and ooze that 5* hotel quality.
But how is the building managed? What systems are in place to assist with the day-to-day running of the hotel?
Hotels on a whole prefer to keep many of their services in-house to control operations and standards.
The Fairmont is no exception and it has a stringent maintenance program in place to ensure the rooms and hotel is maintained to the highest possible standards.
"Every day, our housekeepers touch every single room in the hotel. When they (the staff) go through the room, they have very strict things to look for. Not only are they doing the cleanliness aspects but they also have to test the phone, televisions, air conditioning and plumping, just to make sure everything is in order and working correctly," explains Steven Webster, director of rooms.
"If there are any faults or issues, like a burnt out light bulb or something electronic is not working in the room, they have to report that to engineering and it has to be fixed on the same day before we release the room back for sale."
If it is a guest reporting a fault, Webster explains they have to send someone up to the room or the place where the fault is, within 10 minutes.
Due to Dubai's high occupancy, the rooms are in constant use. But the hotel has procedures in place to ensure they are maintained and looked after without inconvenience to the guest.
Webster explains they can't have what they call, an 'out of order' room, as they can't sell them. He says they are like "products sitting on the shelf".
Webster has to work closely with the engineering department. "We try and make sure the engineering department gets into every single room at least twice a year which for hotels, is a pretty strong standard," explains Webster.
"Most of the time hotels will operate just off housekeeping and then every five years do a renovation program,"
The Fairmont's policy is to take two rooms aside every day of the year and keep them 'out of service' until the evening when people start to check in. "This is when engineering does any touch ups, fixes any tiles, wood borders - anything that would be very visible to the guest. It's kind of like a mini, soft renovation."
All services that instantly can affect a guest's stay, in-house or outsourced, have 24-hour maintenance on hand if any urgent reactive maintenance occurs. Communication is the key to the success of any business. Here, the staff communicate with each other 24 hours a day via walkie-talkies and mobile phones.
Behind the scenes, the engineering department have a huge job on their hands. They work different shifts and are always on hand to react to urgent engineering faults. There are three floors dedicated to the mechanical structure of the building, with maintenance work carried out on most floors on a daily basis.
To help manage and control reactive maintenance, the hotel chose to install Maximo, a computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software program. They use this for call logging and reporting.
"It helps us see what the major problems are throughout the whole building. So if we know that this kind of light bulb is burning out constantly, we see that in the reports we can generate from the system. As long as you pull the information out, it's very useful," states Webster.
He goes on to explain that it has helped them in the decision making process when thinking about turning a room around. Time is vital and the quickest processes have to be in place to ensure the room is ready before the guest arrives.
Maximo was installed when the hotel first opened over five years ago. Webster explains that it is a fairly simple system to use, but training is key if the hotel is to use it properly.
He says the only real problem they found was encouraging staff to shy away from using email and instead, utilising Maximo for this. "Once you get over those hurdles, it works really well," he confirms.
Another system the hotel uses is a building management system (BMS). This comes from Honeywell and controls all the shared air conditioning units throughout the hotel.
"The Honeywell BMS was installed right at the beginning. It takes care of all the temperature controls in the building - the air conditioning," says K G Karuna, assistant director of engineering. BMS can also control other systems like fire and lighting, but the Fairmont chose to have separate systems for each area.
Service level agreements, in-house and outsourced, are imperative to an efficient and effective operational building. "We will only ever work with companies that have the same service standard that we have and if they don't, what we try and do is have them give us permanent people, for example, the guys who do our pool maintenance on the ninth floor, as well as our guys looking after the elevators. We have dedicated people from those companies who are here all the time," explains Webster.
By having people from the outsourced companies on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the hotel is able to put them through orientation and train them to their standards. "They know how to speak to guests - they're a part of the team," adds Webster.
The hotel is benchmarked against two well-known standards, JD Power and Richey. Each has different functions and reports that are then given to the hotel to act upon. They cover a whole range of benchmarking from the obvious cleanliness of the hotel to how your breakfast is delivered and served in the morning.
They also have a guest incident alert (GIC) that will ensure all staff are aware of a guest's complaint. By doing this, they know to give the guest additional special treatment to help ease the guests initial concerns. They call this the "recover process". Of course, this is an additional added extra on top of resolving the original complaint.
With sustainability now one of the core issues Dubai and the Middle East is tackling, it's difficult for older buildings to reach the same international 'green' standards as new builds can. However, help is at hand and there are many ways in which old buildings can adjust.
The Fairmont is working very closely with the Emirate Environmental Group (EEG). Initiatives they are currently involved in range from using energy efficient lighting, which saved money and energy, to making sure that all waste water from the hotel's employee accommodation goes through the hotel's sewage treatment plant where it is then used for landscaping and toilet water. They also donate some of this water to a local hospital for their landscaping requirements.
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