In the hotel industry history, women had to suffer from lower pays and being confined to jobs which didn’t offer real scope of advancement or growth. An executive role in this industry for women was only available in the housekeeping department.
Housekeeping may be viewed as a dull and boring job by many. However the reality is that it is a critical part of the hotel’s operations and utlimately its success.
In the 1960s, Hanne Dittler of Westin Hotels proved to the world the tremendous importance of housekeeping. She helped totally transform this department and helped it gain the respect and attention it deserved. She was of the view that housekeeping is way more than simply changing bedsheets.
Dittler had once said, “Housekeeping is critical to the profitability of a hotel; the hotel’s basic product is a clean, comfortable, and attractive guestroom.
Dittler was born and educated in Germany. She had studied at the College of Hotel Management in Heidelberg, and came to the United States during the late 1950s. In 1962, she joined the housekeeping staff of the St. Francis Hotel. After nearly 5 years of service, she was hired for the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, which served as Westin’s corporate headquarters.
With her methodical approach, attention to detail and deep analysis, she was successful in transforming the perception of this job from mundane and ordinary to something which was highly critical to the success of a hotel.
Dittler used to analyz every part of the room and bathroom with for cleaning process. She would calculate how much time it would take for each cleaning task and devised ways on how to best motivate room attendants. She introduced “carnation day” if attendants successfully met certain metrics – which included courteous behavior with guests, cleaning rooms properly, keeping an organized cleaning cart, etc.
Due to the various things she introduced, she was able to make the cleaning work much more efficient and effective, and was able to drastically cut down the time by eliminating time wasting practices. But her most important contribution by far was the sense of importance and pride she instilled in new housekeeping staff about their job!
Without doubt, she seemed passionate about her work. Due to her passion and unfailing dedication she kept climbing the job ladder at her company. In 1973, she joined the Westin corporate rooms division as director of housekeeping. She was later named vice president of the rooms division, then corporate director of rooms.
In the 1990s, Dittler contributed to the establishment of Westin’s Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Pillow campaign. This was made possible due to the tremendous ocean of knowledge she possessed about beds and pillows – including the factors that made them comfortable, easy to clean, durable. With years of housekeeping experience behind her back, she probably knew better than most others about what made for a good bed and pillow.