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Total Quality Management (TQM) in Hospitality Industry:
A study of the application of TQM in a hotel's engineering department and
its effects on hotel performance

Mark Chan


Submitted to

The University of Liverpool

in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of

MASTER OF Project Management


A Dissertation

Total Quality Management (TQM) in Hospitality Industry:
A study of the application of TQM in a hotel's engineering department and
its effects on hotel performance
Mark Chan

We hereby certify that this Dissertation submitted by Mark Chan conforms to acceptable
standards, and as such is fully adequate in scope and quality. It is therefore approved as
the fulfillment of the Dissertation requirements for the degree of Master of Project


Dissertation Advisor Date

The University of Liverpool


I hereby certify that this paper constitutes my own product, that where the
language of others is set forth, quotation marks so indicate, and that appropriate
credit is given where I have used the language, ideas, expressions or writings
of another.

Mark Chan



Total Quality Management (TQM) in Hospitality Industry:
A study of the application of TQM in a hotel's engineering department
and its effects on hotel performance


Mark Chan

Total Quality Management (TQM) methodology can help organizations to achieve business
excellence. This methodology is also useful for the hospitality industry; almost all hotels focus
on quality management to improve their business by enhancing customer satisfaction,
competitive advantage and retaining guest loyalty. TQM is teamwork; every functional
department must work cohesively together and support each other in order to achieve business
excellence. Different departments in a hotel have different roles in delivering the service to hotel
guests. This dissertation is aimed to find out how the Engineering Department, a back-of-house
department in a hotel, supports the hotel goal of quality management together with the factors
and practices that could impact the department both positively and negatively to achieve the

In addition to the literary review, which reviewed existing knowledge, a qualitative approach
was adopted for this research to collect primary data; structured interviews were conducted in
Hong Kong and Beijing in China. Fourteen hotel engineers, with at least 5 years working
experience in 5-star chain hotels, were interviewed.
This research revealed that the major role of the engineering department is to ensure the efficient
operation of all physical plants including electrical, mechanical, fire, hygiene and safety systems
as well as production equipment; it plays a key role in providing a comfortable and safe
environment for occupants including guests and staff. Comfort and safety are the essential
factors in the decision making when people select hotels; therefore, the effectiveness of
engineering department will affect the overall performance of the hotel. Quality tools are
essential for the control, management, measurement and analysis of engineering tasks; they are
important in maintaining the efficiency and improving the performance of the department. The
top five critical success factors include: support from senior management, an effective team,
leadership and management skills, communication, and clear quality requirements, whereas the
top three barriers are: inadequate support from senior management, unfair work environment and
bureaucratic policy – traditional financial practice.
In conclusion, the engineering department is one of the major internal service providers in a
hotel; it supports other departments to complete the final product delivered to hotel guests.


I would like to express my appreciation for my dissertation advisor, Dr. Dimitris Folinas, and my
general dissertation advisor, Dr. Rathin Basu, for their support and guidance.
I would also like to thank the following fellow engineers for their participation in the interviews
and the contribution of their knowledge and experiences
 Mr. James Gao
 Mr. Desmond Lau
 Mr. X.M. Ma
 Mr. M.Z. Li
 Mr. Jack Li
 Mr. Sun
 Mr. Tom Zhang
 Mr. C.Y. Choi
 Mr. Winston Suen
 Mr. Raymond Ng
 Mr. Ivan Cheung
 Mr. Mark Li
 Mr. W.P. Wong
 Mr. Adam Jin

Table of Contents

Table of Tables ............................................................................................................................... 9
Table of Figures ............................................................................................................................ 10
Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................. 11
1.1 Background ..................................................................................................................... 11
1.2 Research Questions ......................................................................................................... 12
1.3 Aims and Objective......................................................................................................... 13
1.4 Structure of the Dissertation ........................................................................................... 14
1.5 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 15
Chapter 2: Literature Review ........................................................................................................ 16
2.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 16
2.2 Role of the Engineering Department .............................................................................. 17
2.3 The link between Engineering and the hotel quality performance ................................. 22
2.4 Quality methodology and tools ....................................................................................... 28
2.5 Performance measurement .............................................................................................. 31
2.6 Critical success factors .................................................................................................... 34
2.7 Negative factors .............................................................................................................. 36
2.8 Summary ......................................................................................................................... 38
Chapter 3: Methodology ............................................................................................................... 39
3.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 39
3.2 Research Design and Approach ...................................................................................... 39
3.3 Objectives of the Research .............................................................................................. 40
3.4 Justification for using Qualitative & Quantitative Approaches ...................................... 40
3.5 Data Collection Methods ................................................................................................ 41
3.6 Interview design .............................................................................................................. 42
3.7 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 43
Chapter 4: Results and Analysis ................................................................................................... 44
4.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 44
4.2 Interviewees .................................................................................................................... 44
4.3 Key findings .................................................................................................................... 44
4.4 Key concepts of the study ............................................................................................... 67
Chapter 5 Conclusion and Recommendation ................................................................................ 70
5.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 70
5.2 Recommendations for hotel engineers and general managers ........................................ 70
5.3 Recommendations for future research ............................................................................ 75
5.4 Summary and Concluding Remarks ............................................................................... 76
References: .................................................................................................................................... 77
Appendices .................................................................................................................................... 81
Appendix A : Declaration of interviewee ................................................................................. 81
Appendix B : Interview Questions ............................................................................................ 82
Appendix C: Interviewee information ...................................................................................... 85

Table of Tables
Table 2.1 – Types of asset management……………………………………………………. 17
Table 2.2 – Performance measurement framework………………………………………… 33
Table 4.1 – Links of engineering roles to TQM performance……………………………… 52
Table 4.2 – Common quality tools used by engineering department of hotels…………….. 54
Table 4.3 – Computer software for hotel engineering department…………………………. 55
Table 4.4 – Performance Measurement…………………………………………………….. 58
Table 4.5 – Critical success factor……………………………………………………..... 60
Table 4.6 – Common barriers………………………………………………………………. 63

Table of Figures
Figure 2.1 – Hotel accommodation package..……………………………………………… 15
Figure 2.2 – Typical hotel organization chart..…………………………………………….. 26
Figure 4.1 – Electricity consumption per room-night……………………………………… 58
Figure 4.2 – Required competency of hotel engineer…………………….………………… 68

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Background
In today‘s highly competitive business environment, a company‘s capability to sustain its
competitive advantage is crucial for the continuity of the business (Calingo, 1996).
Quality is the most important factor for sustaining the competitive advantage. It is the
measurement of how well a company can meet or exceed its customers‘ requirements and
expectations (Oakland, 2003).
Competition is extremely high in a free market. Mitchell (n.d.) supports that customer
satisfaction is essential in a free market due to the following reasons:-
 The products or services from the service providers are similar;
 Customers within the market are price-sensitive;
 Customers have stronger bargaining power as the cost to switch to another service is
considered as low.
The hospitality industry has strong market competition; therefore, customer satisfaction and
retaining loyalty will be crucial for a hotel‘s success.
The Total Quality Management (TQM) methodology can help organizations to achieve business
excellence by improving customer satisfaction (both internal and external), cost effectiveness
and competitive advantage (SME Toolkit, 2011). This methodology is useful for the hospitality
industry. In a hotel, any quality problem will induce guest complaints; the impact is direct and
immediate without any time delay. Also, a hotel serves human beings and no two people are
alike. People have different preferences and requirements which makes it more difficult to
control quality in a hotel.

For successful TQM practice, organizations have to integrate the quality management into the
business strategy and to align the goals both horizontally and vertically throughout the various
levels within the organization. In a typical hotel, there are three vertical levels - the senior
management level, the business level (middle management) and the functional level (shop floor).
Horizontally, there are departments – front office, food and beverage (F&B), housekeeping, sales
and marketing, human resources, accounting, engineering and culinary.
Nowadays, almost all hotels focus on quality management to improve their business. Oakland
(2003) emphasizes that TQM is about teamwork; every functional department must work
cohesively together and support each other in order to achieve business excellence. The
effectiveness of teamwork determines the success of TQM in each hotel; this is why some hotels
have better performance than others.
However, the focus of the most recent research on TQM in the hospitality industry is only on the
service from front-line departments such as front office and F&B (Saunders et al, 1992;
Harrington & Keating ,2006); they ignore the efforts from back-of-house departments.

1.2 Research Questions
Although technicians and engineers in a hotel seldom contact hotel guests directly, it does not
mean they are excluded from providing quality service. The engineering department, a back-of-
house department, ensures the efficient operation of all physical plants and all fire and safety
systems; its role appears to be crucial in providing a comfortable and safe environment for guests
such as temperature control, lighting and air quality, and monitoring fire prevention.

Also, engineering department supports the front-line staff by ensuring the proper operations of
hotel production equipment; so that front line department can provide its services to hotel guests
on time. Oakland (2003) points out that teamwork is one of the important success factors; a
smooth work process will require multiple departments working together and supporting each
TQM can improve the performance of the Engineering Department in a hotel, and the
department contributes its improvements to the overall hotel performance. The main objective of
this research is to discover the factors that affect the engineering department in hotels to achieve
the quality goals.
In this regard, the dissertation intends to find answers to the following questions
 How does the engineering department in hotels support the goals of quality management?
 What are the most critical factors that will impact the engineering department both
positively and negatively to achieve the quality?
 What kind of quality tools and techniques can be used to improve the efficiency of
engineering departments in hotels?
 How do hotels measure the performance of the engineering department?

1.3 Aims and Objective
Different departments in a hotel have different roles in delivering the service to hotel guests.
Also, front-of–house and back-of-house departments play different roles in the quality chain.
The engineering department, a back-of-house department, plays a key role in ensuring the
efficient operations of all physical plants including fire, hygiene and safety systems; it also
maintains normal operation of production equipment such as kitchen food production equipment,
laundry machinery, and cooler and freezers. They are important in maintaining the service
standards. Therefore, its effectiveness will affect the overall performance of the hotel.
This dissertation intends to find out the roles and responsibilities of the engineering department
in hotels, and how the department supports the overall hotel quality performance. The findings
will provide useful information for hotel technical professionals and hotel general managers to
further improve their efficiency and effectiveness in quality management. Also, this knowledge
can be shared within other hotel engineers as best practices reference and for benchmarking
1.4 Structure of the Dissertation
This dissertation consists of five chapters. Chapters are arranged so that readers can understand
the objective of the research and how the research is developed.
Chapter one is the introductory chapter, it provides the general information of TQM and TQM
in the hospitality industry. It also explains why the author is interested in the research topic;
therefore, it outlines the research questions as well as the aims and objectives of this dissertation.
Chapter two deals with the review of related literature; it is to study the published work that
other researchers have done in order to find the knowledge related to the research questions. The
purpose is to define the ‗gap‘ of knowledge.
Chapter three describes the research method. This chapter presents the research design of this
dissertation which includes the justification of the research methods, objective and the design for
the data collection.
Chapter four is the result and analysis. This chapter analyzes the data and provides the summary
of the research result. The main objective is to combine the existing knowledge with new
findings to form new knowledge.
Chapter five is the conclusion and recommendations. This chapter concludes the new knowledge
and its benefits. This chapter also recommends the benefits to hotel engineers and general
managers. For the shortages in the research, recommendations are included for future

1.5 Conclusion
In summary, this dissertation is to find out the relationship between the engineering department
in a hotel and Total Quality Management (TQM). Four research questions were developed to
better understand this relationship. Throughout the five chapters, these questions are
investigated as conclusions and recommendations are drawn.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
Quality management is an approach that enables a company to gain market share and price
advantage. This is a company-wide effort; teamwork and commitment from all staff cannot be
under-emphasized (Oakland, 2003).
Traditionally, people believe that hotel engineers‘ roles are just to keep the machinery
running, such as boilers, air conditioners, elevators…etc; their job is to repair the furniture
and ensure the supply of water, air-conditioning and lighting for hotel guests (Rutherford,
1987). However, this impression is not realistically true in today‘s hospitality industry.
Rutherford (1987) points out that the role of hotel engineers has been changed from
traditional technical tasks to more embracement of management oriented functions. Their
effort to support the organizational strategy and achieve hotel TQM goals is also essential.
To identify the ‗gap‘ of the knowledge for this topic, it is necessary to conduct a literature
review (White, 2002).
This chapter is to review the existing knowledge about the engineering department of hotels;
the study includes:-
 The role of an engineering department in a hotel;
 The link between the engineering department and the hotel quality performance;
 Success critical factors supporting performance;
 Negative factors impacting performance;
 Quality tools for hotel engineers;
 Performance measurement for the engineering department.
The purpose of this chapter is to review different sources that provide the functionality of hotel
engineers to support the quality performance of a hotel and identify factors that could affect the
performance of engineering department.

2.2 Role of the Engineering Department
Quality management starts with the realization of the requirements from the customers (Oakland,
2003). To study how the Engineering department in a hotel supports the overall quality
performance, it is necessary to learn the role of the department and its responsibilities.
Hotel engineers are responsible for the operations and management of facilities and assets in the
hotel (Chan, Lee & Burnett, 2001). Durodola & Oloyede (2011) advise that there are four styles
of asset management – ‗maintenance management‘, ‗property management‘, ‗facilities bench
marking‘ and ‗facilities management. Table 2.1 shows the definition of these four asset
management types.
Table 2.1 – Types of asset management

Asset Management type Definition
Maintenance management This is to upkeep a facility so that the facility can support
the core business of the building (Arditi and Nawakorawit in
Durodola & Oloyede, 2011)
Property management It is more than maintenance management; it also aims on the
financial return on focusing on leasing, tenant selection and
property portfolio management (Nwankwo in Durodola &
Oloyede, 2011)
Facilities benchmarking This is the application of benchmarking which identifies
best practices to the building operation and management
(Milohnic and Cerovic in Durodola & Oloyede, 2011).
Facility management This is defined as ―an integrated approach to operating,
maintaining, improving and adopting the buildings and
infrastructure of an organization in order to create an
environment that strongly supports the primary objectives of
that organization‖ (Barett, 2000).

Durodola & Oloyede (2011), in their research of hotels in Nigeria, found out that all five-star
hotels adopt facility management which they believe is the most effective and the latest style
of hotel assets management.
Facilities management includes the following responsibilities (Lewis, 1999 ; Cotts, 1998):
 Preventive maintenance for building physical plants;
 Work requests handling;
 Enforcement of fire and life safety policies;
 Energy conservation;
 Control of maintenance expenses;
 Promotion of community social responsibility (CSR);
 Project management.
Building physical assets include:-
 Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning plants;
 Electrical distribution;
 Plumbing and drainage;
 Vertical transportation;
 Safety and surveillance systems;
 Building structure;
 Furniture and fixtures.
In addition to the physical assets, hotels also consist of the following production equipment:-
 Kitchen equipment;
 Laundry equipment;
 Coolers and freezers.
Preventive maintenance – Physical assets are subject to wear and tear; proper maintenance is
required to ensure the efficient operation of these assets. This includes regular inspection,
lubrication, adjustment, calibration, minor repair, replacement and cleaning. The objective is to
minimize the deterioration and prevent unscheduled machinery breakdown; proper maintenance
can extend the life span of the assets (Cotts, 1998; Chan, Lee & Burnett, 2001).
The study by Kuo, Chiang & Chiang (2008) for the air quality of hotels in Taiwan proved that
proper operation of air-conditioning system provides a comfortable air temperature and air
quality for hotel guests. Proper maintenance for the air-conditioning plant ensures the normal
provision of cooling in summer and heating in winter; inadequate maintenance would affect the
air quality. The study indicated that poor indoor air quality would affect the health of tourists; for
example, insufficient circulation of fresh air could cause air-bone diseases. Chan, Lee & Burnett,
(2001) also confirmed that efficient maintenance of building systems is essential in order to
provide a healthy and comfortable environment for hotel guests. For example, Lewis (1999)
points out that preventive maintenance is to provide proper lighting, good air quality, clean water
supply and sound vertical transportation for the building occupants. This service requires
professional and technical knowledge from the hotel engineer.
Work request handling – No matter how well a hotel can perform its regular maintenance,
there are still some minor problems. For example, noise from fan coil units, requests for
temperature adjustments due to personal preferences, unexpected water pipe leakage…etc.
These guest requests or complaints would impact the customer satisfaction negatively; a quick
response to these work requests is an effective recovery action for these deficiencies (Chan, Lee
& Burnett, 2001).
Calingo (1996) advises that guest complaints are a useful source for analyzing the quality
deficiency. How quickly the organization could improve determines its success in meeting the
customers satisfaction.
Life and safety policies - Hotels have high occupancy loads; most occupants –hotel guests, are
not familiar with the building. During an emergency situation such as a fire or blackout, ensuring
the safety of these people becomes very difficult. Fire Safety Engineering (2006) points out that
even with comprehensive safety codes, fires still cause death and injuries in hotels; this is mainly
due to unprofessional crisis management. Knowledge in maintaining an effective emergency
plan is essential. Hotel engineers are the key people to ensure the effectiveness of this plan; this
includes not only the normal maintenance of firefighting equipment, but also the training of all
staff in fire drill and evacuation practice.
Crowell, C. (2009) further elaborates the importance that ―having a well thought out emergency
action plan and a staff that knows how to execute it is just as important as all of the building
codes‖. Guests would assume that staff in the hotel is well trained and prepared to assist guests in
case of emergencies.
Therefore, conducting fire drills and emergency evacuations is one of the important safety
practices in hotels; all the staff in the building is expected to be well trained and capable of
guiding guests to leave the hotel building in the case of an emergency. The objective is to avoid
fatal injuries during the outbreak of incidents and accidents.

Energy conservation – Promoting energy conservation is not only inclusive in the hospitality
industry; it is a world-wide ‗green‘ effort. Controlling the utilities in a building such as
electricity, gas, steam, fuel oil and water requires technical knowledge; hotel engineers are the
experts to promote this awareness. Reducing the energy consumption or minimizing the wastage
could reduce environmental pollution; it can also save on utility expenses (Chan, 2007).
Rutherford (1987), in his study of the responsibilities of hotel chief engineers, pointed out that
energy conservation and management came in second in the list of his study results.
Control of expenses - Another function of the engineering department is the control of
maintenance expenses. Hotel engineers need to be sensitive in controlling the spending of
expenses in order to meet the financial budgets (Cotts, 1998). Chan (2007) points out that
maintenance cost is as high as 8-12 %; while the utility cost is as high as 5-12% of the total hotel
expenses. Engineering is to support the profit margin by controlling the expenses of utilities by
implementing energy conservation programs, and the outsource expenses by selecting competent
contractors. Chan (2007) also suggested that an effectively planned maintenance framework
could minimize the cost, as it prevents the breakdown of equipment which could cause an
interruption in business. Planned maintenance allows for the minimization of emergency repair
and the loss of production capacity.
Community social responsibility (CSR) - Chan & Ho (2006) advise that Green practice, such
as ISO14001 accreditation, promotes the brand image; Samuel (2008) also urges hotel engineers
to go ‗green‘ as this is the new way of doing business. Most CSR activities involve technical
knowledge; e.g. environmental protection, reducing of CO2 emission, use of energy efficient
products, elimination of contaminated substances and education for staff for the awareness.
Engineers play a significant role in a hotel to drive for participation. Hawkins (2009) emphasizes
that ―hospitality operators must be able to prove that their sustainable business practices make a
difference in order to win consumers for whom CSR matters.‖
Project management – Hotel areas need to be refurbished at regular interval in order to
maintain the contemporary (Sohail et al, 2007). For example, guest rooms are renovated once
every five to seven years; typical score of work includes replacement of furniture and fixtures,
redecoration and some minor modifications (Langdon, D & Everest, 2002). Hotel engineers
need to plan and coordinate these projects. Wysocki (2009) advises that the goal of project
management is to complete the project within the budgeted timeframe and cost as per the
determined quality requirements.

2.3 The link between Engineering and the hotel quality performance

Although hotel technicians and engineers are seldom in contact with hotel guests directly, it does
not mean that they are excluded from contributing to the overall hotel quality performance.
Engineers‘ role and responsibilities are important to maintain a comfortable and safe
environment for hotel guests, controlling the expenses to meet the financial budget and to
promote the hotel image. In other words, engineers need to meet the stakeholders‘ needs.
Stakeholders include hotel guests, internal departments, and property owners.
Hotel guests - Cotts (1998) suggests that effective maintenance of facilities is important in
supporting the business. Each business has a philosophy about the facility; facility management
is part of the business function. Therefore, hotel engineers/facility managers are also business
managers. They need to align the departmental goals with the hotel business goals.

Sohail at el (2007), in their research for the determinants of service quality in Malaysian hotels,
point out that people consider factors like comfort, cleanliness and safety in selecting hotels.
Quality in services and facilities are equally important for sustainable competitive advantage.
Engineering department is responsible for the facility management. Therefore, its effectiveness
would affect the overall performance of the hotel. For example, they pointed out that outdated
and worn out furnishings could de-value the appearance of the hotel.
Durodola & Oloyede (2011) have conducted a research on 57 hotels in Nigeria regarding the
importance of asset management. They concluded that the goal of facility management is to
support the core business; an effectively planned maintenance program to upkeep the assets is
one of the important ways for improving hotel business. Effective preventive maintenance
enables the physical plants to provide a comfortable and safe environment; proper upkeep of
fixtures and furniture provides a cozy and warm atmosphere.
Chan, Lee & Burnett (2001) have conducted a study of maintenance performance for hotels in
Hong Kong. They concluded that proper maintenance of physical assets is important to provide a
healthy and comfortable atmosphere for hotel guests. The working condition of the building
service systems have a direct and significant effect on the customers‘ impression of the hotel; for
example, improper air temperature from air-conditioning, leaking from ceiling water pipes and
disturbance from improper control of construction noise could disturb guests and cause guest
Gruman, Chhinzer,& Smith, (2011) support that handling disasters in the hospitality industry is
difficult due to the high volume of occupants in the building; hotels should be well prepared for
possible crisis and emergencies. Their study showed that experience and knowledge could
enhance crisis readiness. Hofmann (2005) pointed out that a comprehensive crisis management
policy could promote the brand image of the hotel.
Wai (in Okoroh, Jones and llozor, 2003) in his study of facility management and hotel
renovation in Hong Kong suggested that effective facility management strategies could be
applied in renovation projects in order to minimize the disturbances to hotel guests. Chan (2007)
also suggests that engineering staff are required to work in shift, so that most repair work could
be arranged in the day time when most guests are out of the hotel. Middle and night shift
technicians are mainly for emergency repair. This arrangement is mainly to minimize the
disturbances to hotel guests.
Okoroh, Jones and llozor (2003), in their study of the benefits of facilities management in the
hospitality industry, suggested a model of hotel accommodation package to satisfy customer
needs. Figure 2.1 shows the details of the model. The model indicates that hotel guests look for
feeling of well-being, high standard of hygiene, cleanliness, health and safety, appropriate
lighting and air quality, protection from environmental hazards, hot food and beverage and cozy
fixtures and furniture. It suggests that while hotels focus on tangible service such as room
check-in, food service; hoteliers should also realize that customer satisfaction must be balanced
with intangible services such as security, a feeling of well being…etc.

Figure 2.1 – Hotel accommodation package (Okoroh, Jones and llozor, 2003)

In view of above, the engineering department plays a key role in maintaining a comfortable,
healthy and safe environment for hotel external guests through effective facility management;
this includes sufficient lighting, good air quality, and a quiet and warm environment with a well-
prepared safety policy. These factors contribute directly to the customer satisfaction.
Property Owners – Property owners focus on investment returns. A proper maintenance
program maintains a good physical condition of the property; it can extend the life span of the
assets. Therefore, proper maintenance will increase the investment return for the property owner
(Durodola & Oloyede, 2011). The property owner is one of the important customers. His
satisfaction could ensure the employment of the hotel management team.

Internal customers - Most processes in a hotel involve multiple departments. To be successful
in practicing TQM, organizations have to integrate the quality management into the business
strategy and to align the goals horizontally and vertically throughout the various levels within the
organization (Oakland, 2003). In a typical hotel, there are three levels vertically - the senior
management level, the business level (middle management) and the functional level (shop floor).
The senior management level includes owner and his representations and the hotel general
manager. The middle management is the department head such as front office manager,
accountant, chief engineer…etc, and the shop floor staff is rank and file employees such as
receptionists, waiters and technicians…etc. Horizontally, there are departments – front office,
food and beverage (F&B), housekeeping, sales and marketing, human resources, accounting,
engineering and culinary. Figure 2.2 shows a typical hotel organization chart.

Figure 2.2 – Typical hotel organization chart (Baker, Bradley & Huyton in Fleseriu & Fleseriu,

TQM is to satisfy the customers‘ needs; internally, this can be achieved successfully by
executing every process and activity carefully from the first supplier to the last customer; this is
the ‗quality chain‘. Managing quality requires effort at all levels of the organization and,
importantly, at all steps in the quality chain (Oakland, 2003). Meeting the requirement of the
internal customers in the ‗quality chain‘ is critical in delivering the final product to the final
external customer in a hotel.
Hotel engineers need to support the hotel accountants in achieving the financial goal. Achieving
the financial goals is one of the important tasks for managers as a balanced scorecard is still a
popular performance measurement (Oakland, 2003). For hotel engineers, controlling energy and
maintenance costs needs proper planning. Chan, Lee & Burnett (2001) points out that in
estimating the energy cost, the outdoor weather condition, guestroom occupancy rate and food
covers should be taken into consideration as they will affect the energy consumption. Chan
(2007) also advises that energy consumption can be reduced by implementing energy
conservation programs; e.g. replacing old equipment with new energy efficient equipment and
machinery, educating staff to minimize energy wastage such as turning off the lighting and air-
conditioning when the office is not occupied.
Planning of cost control is a bottom-up process which requires front line operator involvement
(Campbell, 1995). Input from engineering staff for proper spending of expenses will increase the
effectiveness of engineering operations. Research by Chan (2007) confirmed that health and
safety, energy consumption and guest expectation have been the major influential factors for
maintenance decision making in hotels in Hong Kong.

2.4 Quality methodology and tools
To drive quality improvement, use of proper methodologies such as quality frameworks and
tools is necessary as they can assist the organization to effectively manage quality (Oakland,
Quality framework - A quality framework can provide a high-level guideline to assist a
company to manage quality. It works as a road-map to guide the employees (Oakland 2003).
Oakland (2003, p21) suggested a TQM framework with four Ps (planning, people, process and
performance) and 3Cs (culture, communication and commitment). He suggests that planning,
people and process are the key factors in the quality framework to deliver performance (4 Ps);
while culture, communication and commitment (3Cs) support and link the 4Ps to produce the
result. Therefore, competent people, clear processes, comprehensive plans, and effective tools
are essential for managing quality.
EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) is a popular quality framework for
business excellence in Europe; it guides organizations to self assess nine key areas of the
business. The first five aspects are called enablers; they are: leadership, people, policy and
strategy, partnership and resources, and result. Another four areas are referred as result; they are:
people results, customer results, society results and key performance results. The main advantage
of the framework is that it drives for the continuous improvement (EFQM, 2003). Home and
Personal Care-Europe (HPCE) has adopted EFQM quality framework for quality improvement.
The successful deployment of the framework changed the culture of the company, improved the
efficiency of the workforce and increased the business revenue and profit by 20% (Oakland,

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (2011) indicates that ISO is a standard
which is recognized internationally. This framework provides a set of standardized
requirements for a quality management system. This accredited certification needs to be
certified by external auditor. Currently three types of framework are available; they are ISO
14001(environmental management system), ISO18001 (workplace safety management
system) and ISO 9001(quality management system). The organization claims that these
certifications can increase the brand image of the company.
Chan & Ho (2006) advised, in their research about the environment management systems in
hotels, that most hotels have had some sort of in-house environment conservation programs
with different degrees of intensity; however, proper tools such as ISO 14001 would provide a
more effective guideline.
Interestingly, Harrington & Keating (2006) have studied hotels in Ireland. They found out that
only 28.2 percent of Irish hotels had adopted a formal quality management system, although
most Irish hoteliers indicated that they were familiar with quality certification. However, the
research did not provide the reasons for this phenomenon.
Quality Tools
Flowchart - Reding, Ratiiff & Fullmer (1998) believe that flow charting is one of the useful
quality tools. Process mapping and flow charting allow a proper documentation of work
processes and provide a clear picture of business process, which allows better understanding of
business processes and enables easy identification of inefficiencies and problem solving.
Standardised operating procedures – Harrington & Keating (2006) state that standardised
operating procedures is one of the important tools to maintain product consistency. Their
research indicated that 77.7% of hotels in Ireland had documented operation policy and
procedures. Sohail et al (2007), in their research of Malaysian hotels, supports that the hotel‘s
standard operating procedures should be constantly reviewed to maintain the consistency of
quality and efficiency of service. Effective supervision is the answer to ensure that employees
are following the procedures.
Statistical process control (SPC) - DACS (n.d.) introduces that SPC is popular in managing the
process performance; it can be used to monitor the consistency of processes. For example, upper
and lower limits can be set, so that inconsistency can be monitored if the process result exceeds
the limits. SPC also make use of the seven tools of quality – check sheet, histogram, Pareto chart,
cause and effect diagram, scatter diagram, control chart and graph. DACS (n.d.) recommends
that STC is effective for industrial application. This is suitable for electrical and mechanical
system performance monitoring in a hotel.
Audit is one of the effective tools to evaluate the effectiveness of quality management; there are
internal and external audits. The assessment allows organizations to view their strengths and to
identify areas for improvement (Oakland, 2003).
Technology – IT technology is important in today‘s business. Griswold (2003) points out that an
effective automated work order response system can assist hotels to quickly respond to work
request and track the completion status. The system also provides data for management to make
decisions for performance improvement; for example, reports can be generated for top incidents,
recurring problems and trend analysis. Ptak & Schragenheim (2004) support that the rapid
development of technology has enabled management information systems to become powerful
aids for improving business performance; e.g. enterprise resource planning (ERP) system enables
integration of core business processes. It can help reshape businesses and align organizational
structures and processes with industry best-practices.

Karatasou, Geros & Santamouris (2008) suggested that integrating the existing building
system with emerging IT technology could develop a new internet based energy and
environment services. This allows remote control and monitoring of cooling equipment.
Energy for cooling is the biggest energy consumption for buildings; this technology facilitates
the monitoring and analysis in order to control and reduce the energy consumption.
Strategy deployment – Turing strategy into action is a bottom-up process which requires front
line operator involvement, shop floor staff are the owners of each work processes (Campbell,
1995). This is in line with the suggestion from Oakland (2003) that bottom-up approach is
effective in executing strategies while a top-down approach is more effective in the policy
deployment as instructions are always from the top. Bottom- up process requires motivation so
that operations staff will suggest creative and innovative solutions for the implementation of
Since hotel engineers have to operate electrical and mechanical systems in the hotel to ensure the
guest comfort and safety; it will be useful to find out how the quality tools can assist hotel
engineers in their operation and work processes.

2.5 Performance measurement
Performance measurement is important to be able to indicate the effectiveness of the quality
strategy implemented. This is a reiterate process; continuous monitoring allows organization to
check if the standards of quality are being met and identify problems for rectification (Oakland,
People have been arguing that performance is difficult to measure in the service industry. This is
due to the fact that people are not aware that service is also a product (Deming in Saunders et al,
1992). Also, service is delivered at the time it is produced; any performance measurement taken
will be too late to avoid an error when in contact with the customer. Furthermore, personal
preference is different from person to person; hotels have to tailor the service for different
individuals. This makes the measurement criteria difficult to define (Saunders et al, 1992).
However, a study from Saunders et al (1992) pointed out that service quality is the balance
between the expectations that the customer had and their perception of the service received. It is
possible, by focusing on the processes and identifying appropriate quality measures, to obtain
data to measure the performance in the hospitality industry.
Zimmerman & Enell (in Saunders et al, 1992) suggested four categories to measure service
performance: timeliness, integrity, predictability, customer satisfaction. Timeliness refers to the
response time for the guest request. Integrity refers to the completeness of the service.
Predictability refers to the consistency of the service, and customer satisfaction refers to the
appreciation of the service from the customer.
Van Schalkwyk (1998) suggests that organizations should develop their own unique set of key
indicators for measuring their products. The performance measurement should strongly focus on
the customer satisfaction. The measurement result should be available freely at all levels for the
process owners who need to maintain and improve the quality; this is to encourage employee
employment. This information is a good learning opportunity for employees to perform
continuous improvement with the application of benchmarking.
Engineering department is responsible for maintaining a comfortable and safe environment for
hotel guests; the internal audit measures the effectiveness of facility management. The major
objective of preventive maintenance is to minimize machinery breakdown; Chan, Lee & Burnett
(2001) introduce a method, urgent repair request index (URI), to measure the machine
URI = UR/ (UR + GR)
where UR is the number of urgent repair requests arising from guests and in-house staff, and GR
is the number of normal request for repair of building facilities. The equation states that the
fewer the urgent requests from guests, the lower the URI. This indicates high preventive
maintenance efficiency.
The second priority of the engineering department is to control the utility cost. For facility
management, it is common to measure the energy efficiency index. This is the annual equivalent
energy consumption normalized over the gloss floor areas. The research by Chan, Lee & Burnett
(2001) shows that the average energy efficiency index for hotels in Hong Kong is 457kWh/M2.
Oakland, (2003) also proposed a performance measurement framework. He believes that
performance measurement, to be effective, should focus on 4 levels as shown in table 2.2.

Table 2.2 – Performance measurement framework (Oakland, 2003)

Level Description Measurement
Level 1 Strategy development and goal
Key performance outcomes and targets
Level 2 Process management Process performance measures
Level 3 Individual performance
Performance appraisal
Level 4 Review performance Self Assessment, surveys,
benchmarking etc.

2.6 Critical success factors
Oakland (2003), in his TQM model, emphasizes the importance of competent people, clear
processes, comprehensive plans, and effective tools. He believes that these factors are the
components forming the TQM framework.
Yang (2006) studied and compared the practices for quality management for different service
industries in Taiwan, namely hospitals, hotels, insurance companies, banks, department stores
and airlines. The study revealed that hotels devoted stronger attention on the following practices:
top management support, market segment and positioning, customer focus, design service
process, training, standardize policy and procedures, leadership, customer satisfaction and
measure, internal customer measure, performance audit and continuous improvement. The study
also pointed out that employee motivation, input control, and empowerment were insufficient in
the hospitality industry.
Sila and Ebrahipour (2003) identified 76 validated TQM success factors and their impacts; the
top twenty factors are: top management commitment, leadership, customer focus, information
and analysis, training, supplier management, strategic planning, employee involvement, human
resource management, process, management, teamwork, product and service design, process
control, benchmarking, continuous improvement, employee empowerment, quality assurance,
social responsibility, and employee satisfaction. These factors could be considered as the most
universally applied factors.
Most international chain hotels believe that top management commitment is important. This is
why most hotel groups provide a clear mission statement as a business direction. For example,
Shangri-La Hotel‘s mission is ‗To be the first choice for guests and colleagues, shareholders and
business partners (, 2011).
Oakland (2003, p58) suggests that the top-down approach is more effective for new policy
deployment as instructions are always from the top. However, bottom-up approach is more
effective as ideas for how to implement the policy should be encouraged in the departmental and
shop-floor level. This opinion is supported by Wheeler and Sillanpaa (in Tantawy & Tanner,
2001) that top-down control and command should be balanced with bottom-up spirit for
promoting continuous improvement. Since engineering is a technical department, knowledge of
building systems is necessary to ensure the safe operation of the facility. Therefore, engineering
staff should poses the required competence and commitment together with passion for the work
(Trkman, 2010)
Tantawy & Tanner (2001) recommends factors for implementing business excellence model, i.e.
EFQM. The factors are proper leadership style in the different stage of the implementation; clear
objective of change leading to ‗comfortable‘ change; favorable company culture; use of system
thinking for diagnosis; proper method of prioritization; and the approach for managing the
Calingo (1996) points out that continuous improvement is a ‗must‘ in TQM. Instead of following
common quality norms, organizations should consider matching or exceeding competitors‘
quality. Oakland (2003) recommends that the E-P-D-C-A (evaluate, plan, do, check and amend)
is an effective model for continuous improvement.
Chan (2007) also suggests another two factors for increasing the efficiency of the engineering
department. Traditionally, technicians are of mono-skill; e.g. electrician with electrical trade
qualifications, carpenters with woodwork knowledge…etc. Promotion of having technicians with
multiple skills in the hotel engineering department could improve the overall quality and reduce
labor costs. Another recommendation is hiring specialized contractors for equipment with high
technological needs as the technicians in the hotel may not have the proper knowledge to
maintain these pieces of equipment, and contractors are needed to sustain the quality
requirements. Some of these machines may include generators, boilers, chillers, and fire
detection systems.
The factors mentioned above could be considered as the most universally applied factors. The
priority of these factors still need further investigation even though it is still the same when
applied to an engineering department.

2.7 Negative factors
Recent research emphasizes the importance of critical factors for practicing TQM. Scholars
believe that there are also factors affecting the performance negatively. For example, TQM is
to change the culture of an organization (Oakland, 2003); there are always barriers affecting
the change. Van Schalkwyk (1998) pointed out that use of a traditional financial policy to set
goals may affect the output level negatively; e.g. focusing heavily on financial data for
monitoring and controlling may reduce the focus on the customers‘ needs. This has a direct
impact on a hotel engineering department as the engineering department is considered to be a
money spending department. Any financial limit may limit the performance of the
department. Calingo (1996) also advises that trying to maximize profit and ignoring the value
on customer loyalty would not help to improve the profitability; conversely, it will negatively
impact the performance of an organization rather than positively. The proper way to reduce
the cost is by improving the process such as re-engineering, making use of technology to
improve efficiency and eliminate waste (Kerzner, 2010).
Harrington & Keating (2006) also carried out a study on quality management initiatives in
Irish Hotels. They found out that one of the barriers for the success of quality management
has been the ingrained attitude of staff. They reported that over 25.5 % of respondents stated
that staff did not pay attention to quality requirements; and 23 % respondents reflected the
staffs‘ lack of enthusiasm. Wong (2007) believes that staff behavior is influenced by both
internal and external factors; for example, Abraham Maslow‘s ‗Hierarchy of human needs‘
model suggests that behavior is affected by factors within an individual. Herzberg‘s ‗dual
factor‘ suggests that employment factors could also influences staff behavior; this is further
supported by Maroudas, Kyriakidou & Vacharis (2008), in their study of employees‘
motivation in hotel industry, that human resources polices, practices and provision of
incentives are important for the creation of a workplace environment which ultimately affects
staff behaviors. Carbone (in Harrington & Keating, 2006) points out another reason of TQM
failures is that organization have focused on the production improvement, they have neglected
the importance of empowerment in the service industry.
In addition, Andy Helmore, director of engineering at the Four Seasons Hampshire, pointed
out that one of the difficulties in the hotel is that ―Everyone who stays here wants to
experience a quality product, but no one wants to be bothered by maintenance work". For the
proper preventive maintenance, machines have to be scheduled and suspended for service and
overhaul. For example, elevators have to be put out of service during the oiling or change of
cables. Sometime, even the general manager does not like to see the suspension of the service.
Looking for a suitable time for the suspension of different systems for overhaul has been one
of the challenges for hotel engineers. This kind of problem may not happen in other types of
buildings such as office towers (Janet, 2010).
Finding out of these barriers could help the engineering department to pay close attention to
these barriers; so that the department can improve its quality management performance.
2.8 Summary
Chapter 2 presented a literature review on the role and responsibilities of hotel engineers in
supporting the hotel to achieve customer satisfaction. It also reviews the existing knowledge in
measuring the performance of a hotel engineering department and the factors affecting the
performance of the department both positively and negatively.
The engineering department is the key department in a hotel to maintain the physical plants,
safety systems and production equipment; in return, it provides a comfortable and safe
environment for guests in a hotel. Engineering department also need to support other
departments (internal customers), so that these departments can achieve their business goals.
Except few fragmented research studying the performance of maintenance such as research by
Chan, Lee & Burnett (2001); no study was prevalent on how the hotel engineering department
links its effort to the hotel TQM. This study focus on how engineering department, a back-of-
house department, contributes its effort to support the overall hotel performance. The next
section - Chapter 3, presents the methodology employed in this study for the research.

Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1 Introduction
This chapter presents steps of how the research was carried out. This chapter includes the
following sections: the research design and approach, objectives of the research, justification for
the use of qualitative and quantitative approaches, data collection method, interview design and

3.2 Research Design and Approach
A qualitative approach was adopted for this research; structured interviews were conducted to
collect data in response to the research questions.
The result of the analysis is presented by inductive (descriptive) method; knowledge from the
interviewer, interviewees and previously researched results was incorporated into the report.
The author selected two qualified hotel engineers to pilot test the questionnaire, the purpose was
 Check if each question could measure the desired objective;
 Check for any misunderstanding of the questions;
 Check if interviewees felt comfortable answering the questions;
 Measure the time that was required for the interview.

3.3 Objectives of the Research
The main objective of this research was to study how a hotel engineering department, a back-of-
house department, supported the hotel TQM and the factors that affected its performance.
To achieve the objective, the dissertation intended to find answers to the following questions:
 How does the engineering department in hotels support the goals of quality management?
 What are the most critical factors that will impact the engineering department both
positively and negatively to achieve the quality?
 What kind of quality tools and techniques can improve the efficiency of engineering
departments in hotels?
 How do hotels measure the performance of the engineering department?

3.4 Justification for using Qualitative & Quantitative Approaches
Quantitative research – this approach is considered to be systematic scientific research as it
makes use of mathematic calculation and statistics; the process is termed inferential statics
(White, 2002). It is believed that this approach is more objective in supporting or rejecting a
hypothesis or a theory with minimum bias. Therefore, quantitative research is for testing
hypotheses and ideals for scientific research; this technique is suitable for collecting data
including questionnaires and experiments (McGuigan, 2011).
Qualitative research – Qualitative research is a ―descriptive, non-numerical way to collect and
interpret information‖. The data collecting techniques include interview, observation, use of
diaries, case study, and action research. In this type of research, research questions or arguments
are proposed; data is collected and interpreted to support the research questions (White, 2002).
Therefore, this approach is suitable for business management subjects; e.g. exploring behavior
and business practices (McGuigan, 2011).
However, McGuigan (2011) warns that this approach is more subjective as it could have been
influenced by the personal opinions of the interviewer and the interviewees, and their opinions
could have been biased. The interviewer has to properly plan the interview and ensure that the
feedback from interviewees were justifiable.
In consideration of the nature of this dissertation and the analysis of both research approaches;
the qualitative approach was a suitable choice for this dissertation.

3.5 Data Collection Methods
Fourteen (14) hotel engineers were interviewed either in groups, individually, or by telephone/e-
mail in Beijing and Hong Kong of China. Engineers were selected from international brand 5-
star chain hotels in China; they all had worked / have been working as a hotel chief
engineer/director of engineering for at least 5 years and have worked in different cities in China.
Participation was on a voluntary basis, and the interviewing time was approximately two hours.
Participants offered primary data from their own experiences; they were not representing any
particular hotel, therefore, no consent from any organizations was required; this arrangement was
to encourage interviewees to express their opinions freely without concern for specific
organizational restrictions regarding the release of organization information. Interviewees were
asked to sign a declaration form; the form is shown in Appendix A.
The advantage of using interviews was to minimize and clear any misunderstandings of the
research questions immediately during the face-to-face discussion. This allowed the interviewer
to ensure that answers from the interviewees were related to the research questions. Also, the
interviewer could have made use of the opportunity to discuss in-depth for particular issues if the
interviewee showed interest (White, 2002).
A description of this research together with the objectives and questions was sent to participants
two weeks in advance; this was to allow the participant to prepare for the interview.

3.6 Interview design
During the interview, interviewees were encouraged to contribute their experiences with TQM
practices in hotels. They were expected to offer the following information:-
 A description of functions that the department supports the hotel service quality;
 The correlation between departmental performance and overall hotel TQM performance;
 A subjective opinion on the most important critical success factors supporting the
engineering department to achieve the quality goals;
 A subjective opinion on the most important critical factors affecting the performance of
the department negatively;
 A description of the quality methodologies, tools and techniques used to improve the
efficiency/quality of engineering departments.
Since a structured interview approach was used in this research, a question list was prepared as
shown in appendix B. The advantage of preparing the questions is that these questions could
have been sent to the interviewees in advance together with the introduction of this dissertation
so that interviewees could prepare for the information before the interview. Also, discussion
questions were consistent for all interviewees.
3.7 Conclusion
In summary, a qualitative approach was adopted for this research. Structured interviews were
conducted in Hong Kong and Beijing, China to collect primary data from experienced hotel

Chapter 4: Results and Analysis

4.1 Introduction
This chapter provides a summary of the results of the interview; it also analyzes the
interviewees‘ opinions with key concepts and relates the findings with the research questions.

4.2 Interviewees
A total of 14 hotel engineers were interviewed. Two individual interviews were conducted to
pilot test the questionnaire; the test revealed that the interviewees showed interest to the
discussion topic and the questions can measure the desired objective within the targeted
timeframe of 2 hours. Interviews were conducted either in groups or individually. One group
interview was conducted in Beijing with 3 engineers; another group interview was conducted in
Hong Kong with 4 engineers. Four individual interviews were conducted in Beijing;another 3
engineers were interviewed by telephone or e-mail in Beijing. Two of the interviewees are
regional engineers for China region; one interviewee is the regional facility manager for China
region. The others are either chief engineers or directors of engineering of 5-star chain hotels.
They all had worked / have been working as hotel engineers for more than five years. The
interviewees‘ information and location of hotels are summarized and shown in appendix C.

4.3 Key findings
4.3.1 Roles and responsibilities of the hotel engineering department

Roles and responsibilities - All interviewees confirmed that their major roles in the hotel are
same as those listed in section 2, they are:-
 Preventive maintenance for building physical plants;
 Work requests handling;
 Enforcement of fire and life safety policies;
 Energy conservation;
 Control of maintenance expenses;
 Promotion of community social responsibility (CSR);
 Project management
Leadership – In addition to the above roles and responsibilities, hotel engineers interviewed also
pointed out that a hotel engineer is also a department head; he needs to build and maintain a high
performance and effective working team to carry out the daily routines and projects. Engineers
have to lead and manage their subordinates professionally and ethically; this includes the training
of staff, motivation, creating a fair working environment, planning and supervision of work,
effective use of resources, handling complaints…etc. They are facing these challenges on a daily
basis. Therefore, effective management and leadership skills are important for hotel engineers;
management skills enable engineers to properly plan the tasks while leadership skills assist them
to influence the emotion and intellect of staff (Wong, 2007).
Engineers are business managers – However, all interviewees advised that using the
traditional way, such as a production-oriented approach, to carrying out the above duties is
not enough to meet today‘s customer expectation. Hotel engineers have to be service-oriented
as well as customer-oriented, much like a businessman.
Interviewees pointed out that all senior management members in a hotel including hotel
engineers are business persons and they needed to closely participate in the sales and
marketing activities due to the high market competition in the hospitality market. For
example, engineers have to attend sales meetings with clients for their technical needs.
Customers always have special needs; this includes, but is not limited to: special lighting
effect in a banquet event, additional demand of electricity for their display of new products,
live time broadcasting of meetings…etc. Saunders et al (1992) advised that service quality is
the balance between the expectations that the customers had and their perception of the
service received; therefore the more information the hotel could get from the customer, the
smaller the gap between the expectation and the perception of the service provided. This can
greatly enhance the customer satisfaction.
Response time for making the decision to these customer requests is also essential for the
success in today‘s competitive market; nowadays, customers expect a reply as quickly as
possible. A late response would increase the threat of losing the business. Engineers have to
work at the same pace as the sales and marketing personnel. Engineers are one of the key
members in the hotel sales team. The traditional production-oriented practice is no longer
applicable to hotel engineers; they need to be customer-oriented and service-oriented.
This business-oriented attitude also has to be applied to project management in hotels. In
addition to the opinion of Wai (in Okoroh, Jones and llozor , 2003) that renovation projects
should be arranged so that the disturbance to guests should be kept to minimum, for instance,
careful time selection for construction projects to audible disturbances to the guests,
interviewees also emphasized that the impact to the hotel financial revenue should also be
kept to a minimum. Renovation sometimes calls for the closing of some areas for
refurbishment; scheduling the construction work during the low season when there are fewer
guests could reduce the loss of revenue income. However, these kinds of arrangements
usually would increase construction costs due to the time restriction. Therefore, engineers
should apply a commercial mind set and service attitude to balance the construction cost and
the loss due to guest dissatisfaction. This could achieve the maximum profit for the hotel.
Also, a hotel engineer is one of the executive committee members in a hotel; he/she has to
take over the executive-on-duty manager position on a shift basis. Executive-on-duty manager
is the duty manager during the absence of the hotel general manager; he/she is in-charge of
the hotel operations on behalf of the hotel general manager. During the shift, the engineer has
to make business decisions on behalf of the general manager.
In view of above, hotel engineers have to operate the building facilities to support the hotel
business and to align the departmental goals with the hotel goals. Therefore, Cotts (1998)‘s
opinion that facility managers are business managers is also applied to hotel engineers.
Proactive Vs reactive - One of the major objectives of preventive maintenance is to provide
a comfortable environment such as right air temperature and lighting (Durodola & Oloyede,
2011). However, interviewees pointed out that just treating all guests the same and providing
an environment with universal concept is not sufficient to meet the guests‘ requirements.
Each guest‘s expectation is different; the high expectation of service from hotel guests has
caused hotel engineers to pay more-than-required attention to react to and predict guest
needs. For example, different guests may prefer different room temperatures. People from
western counties would prefer 20 -22 deg. C, while Asian people may prefer 23-25 deg. C.
Elderly people may prefer warmer room temperature than younger people; guests with
illnesses may ask for a warmer room temperature. Different indoor activities also require
different room temperatures; for example team building plays will need cooler room
temperature than a board meeting. Therefore, for banquet events, engineers not only review
the written instructions in the event orders, they also need to consider the background of
participants and the nature of the activity to predict the guest needs and pre-adjust the
ballroom room temperature. This is to reduce the complaint for an uncomfortable temperature
at the arrival of guests.
Another example for being proactive is the catching up of technology to meet the guest needs.
Interviewees advised that the rapid advancement of technology has been one of the major
challenges for them. Hotel engineers pointed out that customers‘ expectation has been
changing due to the change of technology. For example, traditional desk phone and hardwired
internet connection could not satisfy customers‘ needs today. Hotel guests expect‗3G‘ and
‗Wifi‘ as their cell phones and hand-held internet access devices are not equipped with a
hardwired connection. This change makes hardwire for internet access becoming obsolete
now. Engineers need to update their knowledge and pay close attention to the change in
technology in order to know what and how the customers‘ needs are changing; so that they
could plan and advance the building facilities. The quicker the response to the technology
change, the better the position of competitive advantage. This is support by Ptak &
Schragenheim (2004) that change of technology affects how organizations carry out their
business; organizations need to align the technology with their business process to sustain the
competitive advantage.
Although Chan, Lee & Burnett (2001) suggested that a quick response to work request is an
effective recovery action for rectifying deficiencies; one interviewee points out that this
practice can be further improved by taking proactive action to look for deficiencies before
someone comes across the problem. This practice is more effective in today‘s engineering
practice. Traditionally, engineering department responds to problems when they received a
work order. That means the problem has already caused some inconvenience to customers
(either internal or external); this is why the customer issued the work order. The engineer
pointed out that one of the practices in his department is ‗management by walking‘; he
himself and the duty engineer used to walk around the building at least twice a day. They
inspect essential areas including public areas and main production plants such as kitchen,
laundry and restaurants; the objective is to look for and rectify defects in advance before it
causes complaints. This is one of the effective ways to apply the 20/80 Pareto principle; by
inspecting the key operation areas which is about 20% of the hotel areas, could reduce 80% of
work orders. This practice could reduce substantially the complaints from customers (internal
and external) and inconveniences caused to them.
4.3.2 Support to the hotel TQM
Comfortable, healthy and safe environment - All hotel engineers interviewed agreed that hotel
engineers play an important role in providing a healthy, comfortable and safe environment for
people inside the building. This is one of the major factors for customer satisfaction as Sohail at
el (2007), in their research for the determinants of service quality in Malaysian hotels, pointed
out that people consider factors like comfort, cleanliness and safety in selecting hotels. Also,
large firms, before they sign a business agreement with the hotel, would send safety officers to
check the hotel building and review the fire and safety policy and procedures. This is to ensure
that the hotel will be safe for their staff to stay; fire and life safety is the fundamental to the hotel


Crisis Readiness – Engineering department and security department play a significant role in
ensuring the safety of the hotel. The engineering department ensures the normal functionality of
life safety systems by providing repair and maintenance, while security department patrols the
building on a regular basis. Life safety systems include the fire detection system, close circuit
television system (CCTV), building access control and panic alarm system. It is important that
hotel staff is well prepared for possible crisis and emergencies so that they know how to assist
hotel guests. Gruman, Chhinzer & Smith (2011) advise that experience and knowledge could
enhance crisis readiness; this is why engineering and security department conduct regular
training and evacuation drills in the hotel. This is to enhance knowledge and readiness.
Most interviewees agreed that international brand chain hotels have higher safety standards in
comparison than local hotels. One interviewee explained that the main reason is that international
hotel groups have proper insurance by reputable international insurance companies. These
insurance companies have high demand of safety requirements; they also inspect the property
regularly for the compliance. This is one of the reasons that international brand chain hotels have
higher quality requirements. This is in line with the findings by Sohail et al (2007) that the
quality of local hotels in Malaysia is not as good as chain hotels.
Work Orders – a work order system is an important mean of communication between the
engineering department and customers, both internal and external. This system receives work
requests from customers. Interviewees confirmed that no matter how good the preventive
maintenance is in a hotel, there will be still some unforeseen problems that customers may
come cross. Also, not all work orders are complaints; some of them are additional requests
from guests due to personal preferences. Therefore, response time is crucial to provide guest
satisfaction. All hotels have a requirement for the response time; for example, one chain hotel
group specified that technicians are expected arriving the guestroom within 10 minutes and
complete the guest request within 15 minutes. If this time constrain cannot be met; an
explanation should be communicated to the guest. This is in line with the suggestion by
Zimmerman & Enell (in Saunders et al, 1992) that measurement of hotel performance should
include timeliness, integrity, predictability and customer satisfaction. Also, work order
system allows recovery for deficiencies; this is to solve the guest problem and regain the
customer satisfaction before the guest leave the hotel. It also provides an opportunity for the
hotel to learn the guests‘ personal preference, so that the guest would not experience the same
problem or would receive the same preference during the next visit.
Biggest internal supplier - engineering is considered as the biggest internal supplier - a key
service provider, inside a hotel. Supporting other departments to achieve their goals is a
major responsibility of the department. For example, maintaining the laundry equipment so
that the housekeeping department can provide on-time laundry service to hotel guests;
ensuring the normal operation of kitchen equipment allows culinary experts to provide hot
food to customers. Engineering plays an important role in different processes in a hotel; it is
crucial to maintain an effective ‗quality chain‘ so that process of different activities can be
smoothly carried out. ‗Quality chain‘ is defined as a series of internal suppliers and customers
carrying out activities to meet the external customer satisfaction (Oakland, 2003).
The contribution of the engineering department in respect to the hotel TQM performance,
provided by interviewees, is summarized and listed in table 4.1.

Table 4.1 – Links of engineering roles to TQM performance
Roles and
Links to hotel TQM performance
1. Provide proper lighting, comfortable air-conditioning, clean water
supply, vertical transportation;
2. Maintain a cozy and warm atmosphere for hotel guests with
contemporary decoration;
3. Minimize interruption to guest comfort due to the suspension of
building facilities;
4. Sustain customer satisfaction and value for money;
5. Support other departments‘ productivity;
6. Enhance safety;
7. Enhance the property value; and,
8. Increase the return on investment for the building owner.
Work order handling 1. Provide a channel for guests to express dissatisfaction;
2. Allow recovery for guest complaints;
3. Provide a source for problem analysis;
4. Set guest history/preference to tailor service; and,
5. Maintain timeliness response.
Life and safety
1. Ensure occupant safety, guests feel safe to stay;
2. Enhance readiness for crisis management such as earthquake,
power outage, water flooding…etc
3. Ensure swimming pool water hygiene;
4. Eliminate air-borne disease;
5. Promote safety awareness by conducting training, fire drill,
evacuation and precautionary measures;
6. Assist in food safety and hygiene;
7. Reduce staff accidents and injuries;
8. Minimize damages to the property; and,
9. Avoid fatal injuries.
Energy conservation
‗Going green‘
1. Promote a health environment by reducing pollution;
2. Suggest and select energy efficient products;
3. Promote brand image by going green;
4. Promote ‗green‘ awareness; and,
5. Save expenses by reducing energy consumption.
Control of expenses 1. Budget and meet financial target;
2. Control utility expenses;
3. Reduce cost by value engineering; and,
4. Effective use of resources.
CSR 1. Serve local community;
2. Promote brand image; guests feel good to stay with a good CSR
hotel; and,
3. Build corporate identity.
Project management 1. Maintain ‗contemporary‘ for hotel hardware;
2. Minimize disturbance by arranging proper construction time;
3. Meet budgeted cost and time;
4. Control quality; and,
5. Ensure construction site safety.
Management and
1. Achieve hotel and departmental goals
2. Achieve staff satisfaction;
3. Reduce turn-over rate; and,
4. Support career development.

4.3.3 Methodology and tools
All interviewed hotel engineers agreed that the goal of quality management is to meet the
customers‘ needs and sustain competitive advantage. Since hotel engineers are responsible
for the operation of building facilities, use of proper tools to manage and control the quality
could enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the department.
Quality framework – Response from all interviewees revealed that none of the engineers
have used any high level ‗common‘ quality frameworks such as EFQM or ISO 9001. This
phenomenon is in line with the findings of Harrington & Keating (2006). They have studied
hotels in Ireland and found out that only 28.2 percent of Irish hotels had adopted a formal
quality management system, even though most Irish hoteliers indicated that they were familiar
with quality certification. Interviewees pointed out that all hotels do have their own quality
control system. Generally speaking, hotels focus on the performance of similar aspects; i.e.
the customer perspective, financial perspective, Human resources perspective, business
process perspective and Community service perspective. Different hotel groups have different
policies and requirements for each perspective areas; they setup their own quality
requirements for their own business directions.
However, quality frameworks for specialized purposes are popular. For example, almost all
engineers indicated that they use HACCP for food safety control. Some engineers also use
ISO14001 for environmental control and ISO18001 for workplace safety. Since these
specialized frameworks are internationally recognized, hotel engineers believe that not only
do these frameworks offer an effective guideline (Chan & Ho, 2006), but they also promote
the hotel brand image as well. One engineer advised that his hotel adopted the ISO18001 in
2009 and completed the implementation in 2010; the workplace accidents have greatly
reduced from 35 cases in 2010 to 8 cases from Jan-July in 2011. The use of quality
framework can improve the efficiency.
Cultural change - Interviewees advised that TQM is a culture; it takes time to create the culture.
Hotel management has to provide clear requirements, so that staff knows the expectation of the
result. It is necessary to allow the staff to see the advantages of TQM, so that commitment could
be gained from employees. The right attitude could generate the proper behavior. This is in line
with the suggestion from Oakland (2003) that cultural change is necessary to implement TQM.
Also, Wong (2007) supports that dedication and passions are important factors in a dynamic and
effective working team.
Quality tools – interviewees pointed out that quality tools are important for a technical
department such as engineering department; it is known to rely on these tools for control,
management, measurement and analysis; different tools are for different applications and
different purposes. Using the right tools enhance the efficiency and improve the performance of
the department.
The common quality tools used by hotel engineers are listed in table 4.2

Table 4.2 – Common quality tools used by engineering department of hotels

Quality Tools for Hotel Engineering
Description Purpose
Guest questionnaire/survey Measure guest satisfaction.
Mysterious guest survey
Regular meetings with
Ensure sufficient and effective
Regular check /inspection; log
sheets; checklist
Ensure functionality of equipment.

Cost/benefit analysis; ROI Investment analysis.
Policy and procedures;
Provide description of work process.
Cause-effect chart; scatter
diagram; Pareto chart
Problem analysis; Identify causes of
Control chart Control temperature range, chemical
Brain storming Encourage suggestions and new ideas.
Benchmarking Compare performance and identify best
IT technology – computer
(See table 4.3 for detailed description of

IT Technology – Since the engineering department is handling technical systems, IT technology
has widely been used for all kinds of control and management. All hotel engineers interviewed
agreed that computer software is essential for both system control and management application.
IT technology plays an important role in quality assurance. The applications are summarized in
table 4.3.
Table 4.3 – Computer software for the hotel engineering department

Computer Software for Hotel Engineering
Application Purpose
Building automation systems Monitoring and control of electrical and mechanical
systems; e.g. HVAC, Plumbing, Boilers, Electrical
Work order and preventive
maintenance system (facility
management system)
Management of work orders and preventive maintenance
schedules and records.
Call accounting system Telephone call charges accounting system.
Procurement system Issuing of purchasing orders to vendors.
Store room inventory Control of spare parts.
Utility metering system Recording of energy consumption.
E-mail Communication.
Earthcheck Carbon footprint management.
P/L report Repair and maintenance expenses summary.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) – Interviewees pointed out that IT technology plays a
significant role in the building systems‘ control and monitoring; the rapid development of ERP
technology improved the performance of engineering department. For example, traditionally,
hotels had different software developed by different manufacturers for their own systems. The
new building automation system integrated and streamlined the processes of these systems, so
that all building systems, such as air-conditioning, lighting, water supply, fire alarm…etc, can be
controlled and monitored in one software。 Also, engineers can get the real-time information
from their computers such as room temperature, lighting status, water tank level…etc.; this could
allow the engineers to take rectification actions at the early stage of any occurred problems. In
addition, any system alarms will be re-directed to engineers‘ cell phones or remote monitoring
stations. This further enhances the response time for handling problems. Another example is that
the work order system is intergraded with inventory and purchasing software; any spare parts
used in each work order will be recorded and inventory updated. The software can automatically
generate purchasing orders once the inventory drops below the pre-set minimum par level. This
integration reduces labor and increase productivity. Ptak & Schragenheim (2004) support that
ERP technology could enable the integration of business processes. The purpose of the
integration is to standardize work process, reduce waste, increase production speed, minimize
human error, and improve inter-department communication and interactions with suppliers and
customers. As a result, using technology will enable an enhancement in business performance,
which in turn improves customer satisfaction.

Benchmarking – controlling utility expenses is one of the major responsibilities for the
engineering department, one way to analyze utility consumption is through benchmarking.
However, engineers only compare the consumption with their own history data such as the data
of last month or same month of previous years; they do not benchmark with other hotels. There
are two reasons; no two hotels have the same design. Different designs will have different energy
demand; for example, hotels with more restaurants will have more kitchen equipment and require
more gas consumption for cooking. Also, different geographic areas have different weather
conditions. Outdoor temperature will affect energy consumption for air conditioning and heating
(Chan, 2003). Therefore, hotels in mild weather areas will use less energy than those hotels in
the tropical area or northern zone. This is supported by Cotts (1998) that measurement of
benchmarks may not be consistent unless the two properties being benchmarked are as similar as
possible. However, internal benchmarking is an effective tool to track the change over time;
internal benchmarking could help engineers to identify areas for improvement and measure the
performance. Figure 4.1 shows a typical internal benchmarking commonly used by engineers for
tracking electricity consumption per occupied room-night in hotels. Engineers compare the
current month‘s consumption with the last month and same month of previously years; any
variation could be criticized against the affecting factors such as occupancy, outdoor temperature
and humidity…etc. This kind of tracking can also be used for evaluating the performance of
improvement projects. Being able to measure the result is important for continuous improvement
(Oakland, 2003).


Figure 4.1 – Electricity consumption per room-night

4.3.4 Performance measurement
The performance measurements for the engineering department are summarized in table 4.4.
Table 4.4 – Performance Measurement

Performance Measurement for Hotel Engineering Department
Measurement Frequency Criteria
Process management measures
Departmental audit. Yearly Compliance of company

ISO 14001 audit. Yearly Compliance of environment

HACCP audit. Yearly Compliance of food safety.

ISO 18001 audit. Yearly Compliance of workplace safety

Fire and Life safety
Yearly Measurement of safety readiness.
Work request Daily Timeliness, integrity, predictability,
Electricity consumption /Occupied Room
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May. Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
response time. customer satisfaction.

Individual performance measurement
performance appraisal.
Yearly Individual performance
Performance review
Utility critique and

Monthly Analysis of energy consumption.
Customer survey. Monthly Customer satisfaction (working order
of facilities).

Associate survey. Yearly Employee satisfaction.

Financial critique and

Monthly Meeting maintenance expenses and
utilities budget.
Work requests review. Daily Identify problems and guest

Fire and Life safety
Weekly Identifying safety hazards.
Engineering log books
and checklist review.

Daily Ensuring normal operation of
electrical and mechanical plants.

The finding is in line with Oakland (2003) that performance measurement should focus on four
levels - Strategy development and goal deployment; Process management; Individual
performance measurement; Review performance. Since engineering department is in operations
level, the performance measurement focuses on the lower three levels (the first level should be
conducted in the senior management level).
All interviewees agreed that performance measurement is essential to assure quality; this
continuous monitoring allows for opportunities to identity problems and to propose areas for
improvement. Oakland (2003) supports that this reiterated process allows organization to check
if the standards of quality are being met and identify problems for continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement - All engineers believed that continuous improvement is one of the
important processes to improve the quality and sustain customer loyalty. For example, in
hospitality industrial, expectations from each guest are different; service for each guest need to
be tailored. From the work requests, engineering also finds the personal preference of guests.
These preferences will be logged in the guest profiles, so that a guest‘s likes and dislikes will be
addressed during each visit of the guest.
Interviewees also pointed out that re-engineering is a popular methodology for continuous
improvement. The process is to map the ‗as-is‘, identify the problem and to propose the ‗to-be‘
model (Ptak, & Schragenheim, 2004). Especially when the process involves multi-departments; a
clear process and workflow enhance ownership. This is necessary for the improvement of the
reliability. Reliability promotes customer satisfaction (Oakland, 2003).

4.3.5 Critical success factor
The critical success factor (CSF) suggested by hotel engineers interviewed are summarized in
table 4.5.

Table 4.5 – Critical success factor

Critical Success Factors for Hotel Engineering Department
Description Vote Ranking
Align department goals with hotel goals 1
Communication and coordination 5 4
Clear quality requirements 4 5
Effective team 8 2
Employee involvement 1
Employee satisfaction 1
Empowerment 3
Fair working environment 2
Human resource management 1
IT technology 1
Leadership and management skills 5 3
Motivation 1
Performance measurement 1
Positive working environment 1
Product and service design 1
Purchasing process 1
Support from senior management 9 1
Support from hotel owner 2
Sufficient fund for repair and maintenance 1
Setting the right model from managerial managers 1
Reward package 1
Training 2
Quality assurance 1

As indicated in the table above, the top five critical success factors are: Support from senior,
effective team, leadership and management skills, communication, and clear quality
Senior management support– leadership has a profound effect on the success of quality
management (Oakland, 2003). Interviewees pointed out that the hotel general manager‘s attitude
towards quality requirement is crucial for achieving the quality goals; he must have a strong
passion to drive business excellence, this includes setting the business direction and support to
encourage staff to achieve the goals. The general manger must understand the importance of
preventive maintenance of building facilities; so that he could ensure sufficient resources and
support the routine maintenance.
Effective team – the engineering team is to handle technical tasks which require competent
technicians and tradesmen such as electrician, mechanic, plumber, carpenter, mason,
electronic technicians…etc. In additional to their trade knowledge, technicians and tradesmen
also need to learn the facilities in the hotel, so that they can quickly response to the outbreak
of incidents such as water pipe rupture, gas leakage and power outage. Therefore, hotel
engineers have to build a high performance and cohesive work team with required knowledge
and competency.
Leadership and management skills – Interviewees revealed that the quality of the leader is
also critical for the success for quality performance. Strong leadership and management skills
can create an effective team which is required for achieving the departmental goals which
ultimately support the hotel goals.
One effective approach is empowerment. Since supervisors are not always around to make
decisions; allowing shop floor staff to make decisions at the guest contact point is necessary.
For example, guests may ask for the repair of their personal belongings. Since these items are
not hotel properties; the technician has to make a decision in front of the guest for helping or
not helping the guests. The staff has to justify the benefits and consequence in order to satisfy
the guest‘s needs. This could enhance guest satisfaction. However, empowerment should only
be applied when the staff is competent to handle the job task.
Interviewees also believed that one of the major reasons that staff resign has been that the
staff do not like the behavior of his superior. Leaders have to behavior professionally and
appropriately to sustain credibility and gain respect from both subordinates and superiors.
Communication – communication is considered as the most important factor in all kinds of
activities. It is no exception in the hotel operations. Interviewees pointed out that at least 50%
of operational issues and problems are due to poor communications. Therefore, emphasizing
the importance of and promoting the effective use of communication means and tools are
necessary from time to time; this could improve the efficiency of the department.
4.3.6 Barriers
There are also factors that could affect the performance of engineering departments; these
barriers reported by interviewees are consolidated in table 4.6.

Table 4.6 – Common barriers

Common Barriers in Hotel Engineering Department
Description Vote Ranking
Bureaucratic policy – traditional financial practice 5 2
Cost cutting excises 1
Hard to recruit new staff 2
High turn over rate 1
Incorporation to save energy by staff of other department 2
Insufficient training 1
Incompetent staff 1
Insufficient staff 1
Inadequate support from senior management 6 1
Inadequate support from owner 2
Long approval time 1
Long working hours for engineers in hotel 1
Poor management and leadership skills 1
Poor attitude of the hotel engineer 1
Poor communication 1
Unfair reward package 5 3
Imbalance of work and personal life 1
Resources constrain 2

The top three barriers are: inadequate support from senor management, unfair work
environment and bureaucratic policy – traditional financial practice.
Inadequate support from senior management – this is in line with the findings of the
critical success factors shown above. For a five-star chain hotel, senior management includes
the general manager of the hotel and the regional engineering head office. Their support has a
profound effect on the performance of the department.
Engineers pointed out that most general managers like to see staff moving around in the hotel;
most general managers believe that the busy the hotel, the higher the moving. However, this is
not true in the engineering operation; engineers argued that technicians carry out the preventive
maintenance tasks mainly inside the machine room. If preventive maintenance is effective, the
breakdown of building facilities will be less. This would minimize complaints from both internal
and external customers. In another words, the work orders will be greatly be reduced and less
technicians moving in the public area. Therefore, the less the technicians are moving around in
the pubic area; the higher the performance of preventive maintenance. This is confirmed by the
Urgent Repair Index (URI) introduced by Chan, Lee & Burnett (2010). URI is one of the ways to
look at the effectiveness of engineering department and to measure the machine breakdown.
URI = UR/ (UR + GR)
Where UR is the number of urgent repair requests arising from guests and in-house staff, and GR
is the number of normal request for repair of building facilities. From the equation, the lower the
UR , the lower the URI. Therefore, effective preventive maintenance would minimize urgent
Traditional financial policy – although Van Schalkwyk (1998) advises that use of traditional
financial policy to set business goals would have negative impact on customer satisfaction;
unfortunately, this practice is still common in the hospitality industry. Since the engineering
department is considered to be a money spending department; any financial constrain will
limit the performance of the department.
The common phenomena as pointed out by interviewees are:-
 Delay for approving purchasing orders – the engineering department needs to
order spare parts from time to time. Senior management may wrongly believe that
delaying approval of procurement could defer the spending or minimize the
expenses. However, engineers pointed out that delayed repair or maintenance of the
hotel facilities would cause rapid deterioration; insufficient maintenance would
cause breakdown of machineries.
 Progressive reduction of budget - hotel management has an intention to reduce the
budget for expenses every year; this includes the repair and maintenance expenses.
This practice is against the principle of normal wear and tear – the older the
machinery, the higher the repair and maintenance expenses due to accumulated
depreciation of the equipment. As explained by the interviewees, they have to lower
the service standard in order to achieve the financial goal. As a consequence, the
poor facility management performance would lower the customer satisfaction. Van
Schalkwyk (1998) accused that the ―use of financial data to set goals and control
actions typically lead to manipulation of output levels to achieve cost targets‖. For
example, focusing heavily on financial data for monitoring and controlling may
reduce the focus on the customers‘ needs. Also, the budget was set one year before,
the financial target does not take into consideration the change of the market and it
disregards the needs of customers.
Calingo (1996) supported that trying to maximize profit and ignoring the customer
needs would not help to improve the profitability; conversely, it will negatively impact
the performance of the hotel rather than positively
Unfair work environment - most interviewees pointed out that unfair reward packages for
technicians has been the biggest de-motivator in his department. The engineer explained that
back-of-house employees are considered as second level employees and their benefits are
below that of front line staff. He believes that this is due to the fact that management people
do not fully know the work score of engineering staff; insufficient knowledge of engineering
staff causes less care for the staff. Also, the grooming and appearance of technicians or
engineering workers is low in comparing with front-line staff, this may also be one of the
causes of the discrimination. Discriminating de-motivates and lowers the morale of the
Being fair is the basic requirement for building a high performance, effective and cohesive
working team; especially in a multi-cultural working environment (Sanghera, 2010).
Multiple-skills – multiple-skills means that technical staff possesses more than one trade skill. In
general, interviewees agreed that the promotion of multiple-skills could enhance the performance
of the engineering department. For example, it would increase the flexibility of allocating daily
repair and maintenance routines. Also, technicians with multiple skills could handle work orders
more efficiently; they could handle different trade problems by themselves instead of calling
another technician for help. Reduction of response time to work orders could enhance the
customer satisfaction (Calingo, 1996). Therefore, this practice could enhance the quality
performance, reduce cost and increase the efficiency of the engineering department which is in
line with the suggestion by Chan (2007).
However, there are difficulties in promoting multiple-skills. First of all, technical training takes
time. Since engineering staff is full time employee, they can only take part-time upgrading
courses. A part-time electrical or air-conditioning tradesmen training will take at least 3 years.
Secondly, the hotel HR policy may not be supportive. Hotels have a fixed range of wages for all
rankings; i.e. technicians will get the same wages no matter they have one or more than one trade
qualifications. The reward package does not motivate engineering technician to acquire second
trade certificate. Also, the hospitality industry is booming in China, new hotels have been built
substantially. These hotels have caused high demand of experienced staff in the labor market.
This also caused high turnover rate of existing hotels; it discourages hotels to provide long-term
training for employees.

4.4 Key concepts of the study
4.4.1 Quality framework – Hotels setup their own TQM requirements, they make use of the
balanced scorecard and incorporate some other perspectives such as CSR and ‗Green‘.
Different hotel groups concentrate with different degrees of strength on different
perspective areas for their own business direction.
4.4.2 Competency – To manage the engineering department of a hotel, the engineers needs not
only the engineering technical knowledge, but also other knowledge as shown in figure


Figure 4.2 – Required competency of hotel engineer

4.4.3 Staff Quality – the staff serve the hotel guests; they perform the most important task of
the production process - delivering the products to guest. No matter whether they are front -
line or back-of-house staff, serving the guest directly or indirectly, the staff needs to know
the guest expectation clearly. The ability to teach the staff these skills determines the success
of a hotel; providing requires information to the shop floor staff effectively is also a
challenge for hotel management. This is why Van Schalkwyk (1998) emphasized that
performance measurement result should be available freely at all levels for those process
owners who need to maintain and improve the quality; this is to allow them to know what
needs to be improved.
4.4.4 True cost for saving the maintenance expense - Improper preventive maintenance or
delay repair of physical assets would eventually cost more. One of the losses is the recovery
cost from guests‘ complaints due to the breakdown of equipment; another loss is the increase
of repair cost due to the breakdown of the machinery which is the result of prolonged
improper maintenance. This is in line with the opinion of Durodola & Oloyede (2011), that
―it is envisaged that the best practice of facilities management will cost money but avoiding
or delaying it may be extremely expensive in the end‖.
This improper maintenance may also be caused by poor finance practice as explained in
clause 4.3.6. Inappropriate financial practice may be due to the political ambitions of the
hotel senior management; one of the reasons for these ambitions is that organizations offer
incentive or bonus which is based on the hotel profit; this will encourage the hotel manager
to over- cut the expenses in order to achieve maximum profit and maximum bonus.
Therefore, hotels should have a long term planning for facility maintenance.
Chapter 5 Conclusion and Recommendation
5.1 Introduction
From the research, there is new knowledge that can benefit hotel engineers and general
managers. There are also some shortages in the research which will require further investigation.
This chapter provides the recommendations.

5.2 Recommendations for hotel engineers and general managers
5.2.1 Cultural change
Hotel engineers and managers should be aware that TQM is about the change of culture. It must
start from the top management; top management must commit to quality management and admit
that quality is one of the most important strategic tools for the business. The principles and
objectives must be promoted in the whole organization so that each staff in the hotel must
internalize the advantages of quality management. TQM is an integrated, continuous and
professional system based on the commitment from all members of the hotel. Therefore, it is
suggested that implementation of TQM needs proper planning and allowance of sufficient time
for the change of the culture; this is to create a smooth and comfortable change with a minimum
impact to the operations. Engineers are advised that policy deployment is a bottom-up process;
shop floor staff should be involved in the planning of processes, monitoring and measuring of
performance, analysis of feedbacks and carrying out of continuous improvement. The PDCA
(plan-do-check–act) cycle is an effective methodology for TQM implementation (Oakland,

5.2.2 Leadership and management skills
Most hotel engineers have an engineering degree from university. However, leadership and
management skills may not be one of the learning subjects covered in the engineering school. It
is suggested that hotel engineers have to learn this knowledge in order to meet the career needs.
As advised by Rutherford (1987) that hotel engineers need to catch up their management
knowledge to balance with their excellent technical skills. The role of the engineering
department has been changing from just ‗keeping equipment running‘ to a management function
unit. Hotel engineers‘ roles are embraced with more and more management functions.
In addition, project management knowledge becomes one of the competencies of hotel engineers.
Project management is about preparing critical path, communication plan, risk plan and quality
plan. The objective of project management is to complete projects within the budgeted cost and
timeframe and to achieve the predefined quality.

5.2.3 Fair working environment
Although most hotels have corporate policies to maintain a fair working environment, the hotel
general manager and the property owner‘s bias attitude towards back-of-house departments can
create an unfair working environment. Since hotel general managers and owners always wrongly
believe that front line staff is the key staff for the business and motivating only these staff is
enough. They fail to motivate back-of-house by failing to offer incentives and ignoring their
needs. This can cause dissatisfaction from the back-of-house staff. Okoroh, Jones and llozor
(2003) suggested that while hotels focus on tangible service such as room check-in, food
service…etc, hoteliers should understand that customer satisfaction must be balanced with
intangible services such as security, a feeling of well being…etc. It is suggested that both front-
line and back-of-house employees are important in achieving customer satisfaction; fair
treatment to both kinds of staff could enhance the efficiency of the work team.

5.2.4 Understanding the importance of Preventive maintenance work
Although most hotel general managers and owner‘s representatives are business people, hotel
engineers believe that they do not fully understand the importance of the preventive maintenance
work and how engineering carrying out the tasks. It is highly suggested that senior management
personnel should spend some time to learn the importance of preventive maintenance;
understanding this engineering routine can allow the general manger to better support the
engineering department. Senior management personnel should recognize that although
engineering staff are seldom in direct contact with hotel guest; it does not mean they do not
contribute to the TQM efforts. Engineering staff are the heroes behind the scene.
In addition, hotel general managers must understand that preventive maintenance is technical and
professional work; he should respect the decisions made by engineers for the operations of the
building facilities. Any unprofessional influence may have a serious negative impact on the
engineering operations.

5.2.5 Service attitude
Although engineering department is a back-of-house department, hotel engineers should
encourage technicians to consider themselves as front-line staff when they approach hotel guests.
Technicians should pay attention to understand the customers‘ wants so that the gap between the
guest expectation and the perception of the service can be reduced. This could enhance customer
satisfaction as Saunders et al (1992) advised that service quality is the balance between the
expectations that the customers had and their perception of the service received.

5.2.6 Financial policy
Hotel management is advised to review its financial policy. Traditional accounting practice may
focus too heavily on financial data for monitoring and controlling financial targets; this may
reduce the focus on the customers‘ needs. Since the engineering department is considered as a
money-spending department; any financial constrains will affect the performance of the

5.2.7 Integration of IT technology
Hotel management should concentrate their effort in integrating major functional business
processes by using ERP technology. It could help to achieve greater guest satisfaction and
increase competitiveness by reshaping and improving work processes.

5.2.8 Internal customer satisfaction survey
All hotels have customer satisfaction surveys to solicit hotel guests‘ feedback; this is mainly to
get the opinions of external customers. Hotel management may consider applying the same
concept in the ‗quality chain‘. ‗Suppliers‘ will get feedback from ‗customers‘. This practice will
be effective for back-of-house departments such as engineering department, as the engineering
department is considered as the biggest service provider in a hotel.

5.2.9 Best Practices
From the findings of this research, the following best practices are recommended:-
 CSR is considered as a ‗must‘ in today‘s business. Guests feel proud to stay in a hotel
with outstanding CSR contribution to the community. Hotel engineers should support the
CSR by focusing on the energy conservation and prepare a long-team program to reduce
the carbon footprint. Measurement is needed to track the effectiveness and performance
of the program.
 Professional quality framework such as ISO14001, ISO18001 provide a systematic
guideline to achieve the quality requirements; it is suggests that hotel engineers could
make use of this frameworks as a road-map to guide the staff; it could improve the
effectiveness and efficiency of the department.
 Promotion of multiple-skills can enhance the overall quality performance; engineers
should encourage and motivate engineering technicians to acquire additional trade
qualifications. Motivation may need support from the senior management by
implementing appropriate incentive programs.
 Fire and life safety is of utmost importance in a hotel, hotel management has to ensure
that this policy is strictly enforced without negotiation. Exercise for fire drill and crisis
response should be conducted regularly.
 Standard operation procedure (SOP) or policy and procedures (P&P) are common quality
tools in hotels to maintain the consistency of quality and efficiency of service. These
manuals should be constantly reviewed and updated as part of the continuous
improvement process.
 Result of performance measurement should be available to all process owners; this is to
enable the process owners to execute continuous improvement.

5.3 Recommendations for future research

5.3.1 Limitations
This study focused on the opinions from hotel engineers with experience in China and Hong
Kong only; engineers in other countries may have different practices, experiences and opinions.
Also, this research focused on engineers working for 5-star chain hotels only. It excluded hotels
with lower star rating and non-chain hotels. Therefore, further studies for other geographic areas
and hotels with lower star ratings are recommended in order to have a broader view about the
effort from the engineering department and its contribution to the overall hotel TQM

5. 3.2 Quality framework Vs performance
This research revealed that high level ‗common‘ quality frameworks such as EFQM or ISO
9001 are not popular in chain hotel groups. This phenomenon is inline with the finding by
Harrington & Keating (2006). However, hotels do have their own quality control system.
Generally speaking, hotels focus on the performance of similar aspects; i.e. the customer
perspective, financial perspective, human resources perspective, business process perspective
and community service perspective. Since different hotel groups may emphasizes on different
perspective areas with different policies and requirements and different degrees of efforts, the
author believes that these differences will result in different business performances. This is
why some hotels perform better than others. However, the co-relations between these factors
and the performance result will need further studying.
5.3.3 Opinion from hotel general manager and guests
Since this research focuses on the opinions of hotel engineers only, it would be better to have a
broader view from different angles such as soliciting opinions from hotel general managers and
guests. Since the hotel general manager is the leader of a hotel; he/she may look at the
functionality of engineering at different angle and have different suggestions. Also, guests‘
expectation could further enhance the service direction of hotel engineering services.

5.4 Summary and Concluding Remarks
This research discovered the roles and responsibilities of a hotel engineering department and its
contribution to the hotel overall TQM performance. The measurement of the performance of
engineering department had been revealed. This research also summarized quality tools that
could aid the engineering department to enhance the performance. Critical success factor and
barriers for the TQM performance were also discussed. The above findings could enable hotel
general managers and hotel engineers to better understand the importance of engineering efforts
in providing a comfortable and safe environment for both internal and external customers, and as
the biggest internal service provider in supporting other departments. The findings also
suggested factors that could aid in improving the performance of engineering departments in
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Appendix A : Declaration of interviewee
My name is ________________________. I have been working as a hotel engineer for a 5-star
hotel for more than________years. The hotel I am currently working for/ have worked for
is/was located in _______________(city) and have ___________(nos.) guestrooms

I agree to participate in this research and provide the information on a voluntary basis; and I am
not representing any hotel or organization. The information provided is from my own work

The author of this research is Mark Chan Kam Wah.

The subject of the research is: Total Quality Management (TQM) in Hospitality
Industry: A study of the application of TQM in a hotel's engineering department
and its effects on hotel performance.

Appendix B : Interview Questions
Roles and responsibilities of Engineering department.
1 In addition to the following duties, what other roles and responsibilities do you have to
perform in a hotel?
 Preventive maintenance for building physical plants;
 Work requests handling;
 Enforcement of fire and life safety policies;
 Energy conservation;
 Control of maintenance expenses;
 Promotion of community social responsibility (CSR);
 Project management.

2 Do you think the hotel engineer is also a business manager and how?
Support to the hotel performance
3 How does the Engineering department support the overall hotel performance in terms of
quality management? For example, customer satisfaction, owners expectation and internal
customers‘ needs. Could you link your duties to the hotel TQM performance?
4 Do you agree that a proper preventive maintenance is important and why?
5 Do you agree that quick response to guest requests is important for achieving customer
satisfaction and why?
6 Do you review guests‘ requests/complaints for continuous improvement?
7 Do you think crisis management is important and why?
8 Do you agree that controlling the expenses to meet the budget is important?
9 Do you think ‗Going Green‘ is the new way of doing business and how?
10 Do you think CSR is important to promote the brand image and how?
Quality methodology and tools
11 Do you think quality management is important for customer satisfaction and sustaining
competitive advantage?
12 Do you use/ have you used any quality framework to guide a hotel to achieve the quality
goals? For example, ISO 18001, EFQM…etc
13 Do you think process mapping is important and how does it help you? What other quality
tools are you using in the Engineering department? For example, control chart, P&P, audit,
survey, IT technology…etc
14 Does IT technology important for engineering? How can IT technologies help you in the
daily operations? For example, work order process, preventive maintenance management,
building automation…etc.
15 How do you deploy the strategies from the senior management?
16 Do you think continuous improvement is important for enhancing the performance?
Performance measurement
17 Do you measure the performance of the engineering department? If yes, could you list the
different types of measurements and their criteria?
18 Do you benchmark the performances? For example, energy consumption, maintenance
expenses, work orders…etc.
Critical success factors
19 What critical success factors do you think are the top 5 most important factors supporting
your departmental performance and why?
20 Some researchers suggested that technicians with multiple-skills could improve the overall
quality and reduce the labor costs, do you agree and why?
21 What factors are impacting the departmental performance negatively and how? For example,
over focusing on financial budget, ingrained attitude of staff, insufficient empowerment…etc

Appendix C: Interviewee information

No Interviewee
(Years as hotel
Location of hotels
Hotel size
( No of
1 Mr. James Gao 15
(Regional Engineer
for China)

2 Mr. Desmond Lau 20
Beijing, Shanghai,

3 Mr. X.M. Ma 20 Beijing 285-500 Individual
4 Mr. M.Z. Li 5 Beijing 745 Individual
5 Mr. Jack Li 20
Shanghai, Tianjin,

155-1312 Group 1
6 Mr. Sun 5 Beijing 419 Group 1
7 Mr. Tom Zhang 15
Harbin, Dalian,

400-800 Group 1
8 Mr. C.Y. Choi 15
Hong Kong, Beijing,
400-600 Group 2
9 Mr. Winston Suen 5
(Regional Engineer for
China and Hong Kong)
Group 2
10 Mr. Raymond Ng 7 Hong Kong 465 Group 2
11 Mr. Ivan Cheung 13
(Regional Facility
Manager for China and
Hong Kong)

Group 2
12 Mr. Mark Li 6
Beijing, Chongqing,
340-450 Telephone
13 Mr. W.P. Wong 5 Hong Kong 495 E-mail
14 Mr. Adam Jin 19 Beijing 430 Telephone