How crowd pullers affect cleaning

5th of October 2022
How crowd pullers affect cleaning

ECJ’s Lotte Printz in Denmark looks at the cleaning operation in the country’s holiday homes.

As high temperatures sweep the country in August, making office work a sweaty business, one could easily dream the day away, longing for a holiday in a house by the sea. Perhaps, taking a look at cleaning of those holiday homes could suffice?

Holiday homes along the Danish coasts are crowd pullers for Danish tourism. Every year, holiday makers, two thirds of them from Germany, spend millions of nights there according to Statistics Denmark (holiday homes privately let not included in the statistics).

The number of stays reached a record high in 2021 when Covid-19 travel restrictions made holiday cottages particularly popular among the Danes themselves. 21.8 million nights were spent in this type of holiday accommodation, an increase of 1.1 million compared to 2019, which held the previous record.

Given the opportunity after the pandemic, Danes may have travelled abroad this year but the Germans have made a comeback. This makes cleaning holiday homes a booming business too, one would assume.

But for small businesses like Salling Rengøring, a cleaning company based in Salling in the northern part of the Danish mainland, the holiday season also raises concern. This one-woman business run by Heidi Villadsen, with more than 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, usually gets through busy spells with the help of family and friends – out of sheer necessity. This holiday season was no exception.

Even though Salling Rengøring tried to hire freelance or part-time cleaners, no suitable people were found. “Generally, temporary workers are hard to come by in this area and those who do apply are either not capable or serious enough and back out when they find out they must undergo training. Others are too young to drive, and that doesn’t work either. So it falls back on me,” Heidi Villadsen explains.

Had she been able to hire suitable cleaners, perhaps her company would flourish from this lucrative market. Given the circumstances, Heidi Villadsen must settle for seven contracts in the area – and no time off for Heidi herself during this period.

Being a large holiday cottage rental agency, DanCenter is not dealing with the same kind of problems. Cleaning is always part of the contracts they make with holiday cottage owners. Half of their guests buy end-of-lease cleaning, the rest clean the houses themselves before departing – in which case DanCenter has people making inspections and any improvements necessary to meet their cleaning standards.

They too have felt the increase in bookings and the need for more cleaning staff, but they have not been particularly challenged in attracting staff.

“However, we have realised that we must allocate more resources into training and developing staff. It would be wrong to think cleaning holiday homes is an easy task anybody could do. Our staff and the partners we hire need considerable know-how and knowledge of cleaning products, of how they organise tasks and an eye for detail,” DanCenter explains.

DanCenter has also seen a drift towards holiday makers being patronising towards staff, even aggressive and intimidating at times. Most guests are still kind and accommodating, though, DanCenter emphasises. So the visitors who may cause the greatest challenge in the holiday home landscape are multi-legged creatures!

“Spiders work incredibly fast and can quickly rebuild webs we have removed.”


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