2023 was a big year for us at ahs hospitality. We celebrated 30 years of providing outsourced hotel housekeeping solutions across Australia and New Zealand, had record levels of hotel-based celebratory team morning/afternoon teas, and delivered our strongest operational efficiencies to date. And in 2024, we are excited to continue the successful collaborative momentum we achieved over the past 12 months with our housekeepers, hotel clients and support office teams.
We sat down with our Executive General Manager, Leanne Graham, to not only reflect on the year we had, but to also get the inside scoop of what is in store for the business in 2024. You can read our exclusive interview with Leanne below.
ahs hospitality (ahs): What would you say were ahs hospitality's top 3 business achievements in 2023?
Leanne Graham (LG): IT Architecture x3! The complete re-imagination of our infrastructure that drives efficiency, collaboration, and value (both for ahs hospitality and our client partners) has been an extraordinary amount of work that commenced over two years ago. We have re-built and rolled out every element of how our team works – right from our intranet and accessing SOP’s through to time and attendance, HR/Payroll ticketing system, safety systems, supply chain, and finally billing and payroll.
It’s been an enormous amount of work for everyone in our support offices, but the singular objective has kept all of us focused – reduce admin for our teams so their focus is on our people in hotels who drive quality outcomes. I’m immensely proud of those involved in the change management and very grateful to our housekeeping teams for trusting us to provide them better tools and just going with it!
ahs: Costs were and continue to be a hot topic in 2024. How do you manage the conversation around Housekeeping often being the largest cost centre in a hotel with clients?
LG: We all know that cost is an ugly conversation these days and with housekeeping generally being the largest cost centre in a hotel, it is an area of focus. The post-Covid era was a challenge with a lack of productive labour driving costs up, and also chemicals and consumables increasing exponentially. Many hotels had their costs increased by suppliers multiple times.
At ahs hospitality, we worked hard to re-establish a productive workforce and have absorbed the pain for our client partners. Our costs have normalised and productivity is strong – plus our scale allows us to manage some areas that are more difficult for hotels. One key area is workers compensation costs. The lack of both hours worked and injuries incurred during low business periods saw workers compensation costs flatten out over the last two years, but they are on the rise! Whilst the schemes differ across each state, the commonality is the cost increases that are occurring.
This offers a unique opportunity for those hotels who are in-house to remove this risk by outsourcing, and for those who are outsourced to lock in longer contracts before the rates are increased.
ahs: What is the business's ESG focus in 2024? And why is environmental sustainability important to ahs hospitality – how are we strengthening our commitment in 2024?
LG: ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) is broadly important to ahs hospitality, however the majority of our energy definitely goes into the environmental piece for a number of reasons. As a team we are all very passionate about environmental issues with three of our Senior Leadership Team (including myself) being on the Environmental Committee for our parent company, RGF Staffing APEJ. Our IT platforms have enabled us to become largely paperless which was one key objective for the transformation.
The other reason is that legislation in this area is fast changing and the initiatives we are undertaking enable us to support our client partners to meet their obligations. I’m confident we are well ahead of the game in this area.
ahs: If you could use three words to describe what is in store for the business in 2024, what will they be?
LG: Competency, capability, and collaboration.
We still have to support our teams to rebuild competency and capability that is lacking due to the depleted experience levels the industry has seen. We have a clear-cut plan for this now that we have all the back-office tools in place to drive efficiency. Collaboration is still linked as we leverage our teams strengths to mentor and succession plan internally.