Cover Story: The Matting System in Hotels

Mats in a hotel are getting their due importance in the hospitality world. From being just a piece of welcome mat at the door entrance they have evolved to offer benefits like preventing slip and fall, contamination control, anti-fatigue and more. They are also used for brand promotion and advertisement while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the entrance. Rashmi Karanjekar speaks to three housekeeping professionals to find out their take on this subject…

Traditionally people associated mats as a barrier to stop as much dirt as possible from progressing further into the building. However this concept has changed and mats ar e now being introduced into several areas where it serves the purpose of protecting the floor, easy cleaning and maintenance, anti-fatigue, anti-slippery and more.

“It is the responsibility of the executive housekeeper to suggest the management to introduce mats in several locations of the hotel depending on its functionality. Mats have become so versatile that there are grip safe PVC mats introduced on bar shelves or trays that store glasses or cups to prevent it from chipping or breaking,” says Minar Aliyar who is the Executive Housekeeper at Grand Mercure and Ibis Styles Dubai Airport properties which are currently at a pre-opening stage.

Choosing the right floor covering from the plethora of options available can increase safety, improve productivity, and even reduce maintenance costs, hence it's important to find suitable mats for every area in a hotel. To begin the selection process, facility managers should first understand where, how, and why the mat is needed. Some floor mats are designed for very heavy foot traffic, with as many as 1,500 people walking on the mat every day. While the others may only be able to withstand low or moderate foot traffic, about 150 to 500 footfalls. “It is critical that the hotel management is clear on what the y require as simply buying mats more than you require can be an unnecessary expense. Yet, selecting a mat for light traffic area where there is very heavy footfalls may cause the mat to wear out quickly and not do its job of keeping the floors safe,” explains Harisudhakar PT, Executive Housekeeper, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort.

In fact high-quality entrance matting can play a significant role in preventing accidental slips by removing moisture from pedestrian footwear; undersized or poor-quality matting may lead to trips and falls when it buckles, curls, or is flipped over. Harisudhakar mentions that it is recommended to have mats with a ‘high-traction backing’, such as a heavy-duty textured vinyl or a nonslip rubberised backing. “Mats that do not have a high-traction backing are less stable and more susceptible to moving while in service, which increases the risk of buckling and edge curling which can further contribute to a slip, trip and fall event.”

It is also necessary to inspect the entrance mats regularly for damages. To this Harisudhakar adds, “You can fix or repair minor damages like frayed edges. Or can even hire a matting technician to repair any worn out entrance mats. But y ou should not hesitate to replace old worn-out entrance mats with new functional ones.” Gina Popescu, Executive Housekeeper – Gulf Hotel Convention & Spa Bahrain says, “Placing floor mats at every necessary area in a hotel can be of a great help in terms of safety for staff and guests, floor protection, cost effectiveness, blocking contamination and that’s not all! When kept at the entrance it also enhances the aesthetic value of the property while maintaining cleanliness in different areas of the hotel.”

Enhancing the entrances
Matting is the first line of def ense in dirt removal at a hotel. “By placing quality scraper mats outside the entrances and a wiper mat directly inside the entrance will ensure that 85 per cent to 90 per cent of dirt and debris get removed from the under-soles of shoes” says Harisudhakar. He adds, “A combination of mats, including a scraper mat just inside the door, and one or more finer, carpeted mats will continue to capture dirt and debris as people walk into the building. This is called mats ‘entrance filters’ because they are, in essence, filtering the dirt that comes in from the street or parking lot. You need 12 to 15 feet of matting at the door as people don ’t always stop to wipe their feet. You would want each person to get at least four or five steps on the matting.”

It is also necessary to inspect the entrance mats regularly for damages. This can be achieved by following simple cleaning and maintenance processes including regular cleaning, clean installation space, proper storage and handling and also replacing old worn-out entrance mats. On another note speaking about the most overlooked areas of the facility where matting should be considered Aliyar enlightens, “One such area where most of the management overlooks placing a mat is behind the counters or reception areas, which serves the purpose of anti-fatigue. These are usually a foam rubber type nylon mat that reduces the stress on the back and under the feet for employees that tend to stand for long duration of hours due to the nature of their job. Some of these anti-fatigue mats are so presentable creating a replica effect wherein they can resemble flooring and match with its colours too. Introduction of these mats in such areas definitely boosts the productivity of the employees. Anti fatigue mats can also be introduced in guest areas as in front of busy buffet counters that tend to get dirty and slippery from spillage.”

The challenges
One of the purposes of introducing a mat at the entrance (like a debris trapping mat) is to avoid the dirt or sand entering the venue which will definitely ease the cleaning process. Contrarily, cleaning of these mats itself should not become a challenge for a housekeeper. Some mats may look very fancy and attractive but are said to be a challenge to maintain and clean. “The traffic or people’s movement of a particular area where the mat is going to be introduced must definitely be considered prior to selecting a certain mat material. A chewing gum stuck in an aluminum fabric entrance mat between revolving or sliding doors is a real torture for any housekeeper,” opines Aliyar.

Similarly, indoor pool and surrounding mats should be treated well otherwise it may lead to the formation of algae or fungus. In other instances like maintaining the main entrance mats Harisudhakar informs, “Main entrance mats which are usually the decorative/ welcome mats should be dry vacuumed and often shampooed to keep it stain and dirt free. Whereas the restaurants/ bar counter mats need to be washed thoroughly with high pressure water guns.”

Avoiding any trip hazard
It is advised that the best wa y to prevent any slippery accidents is to ensure the mats have an anti-static backing or rubber borders. Aliyar states, “This helps the mats from easily moving its place unless it is firmly installed or t o prevent people from tripping because of its corners. There are even sanitary mats that come with option of a peel off sticker at the back to stick to the floor, this is more practical in sterile environments.” To this Harisudhakar adds that the right floor mat for the right application can make a huge difference in protecting guests and reducing the number of slips, trips and falls at the property.

Thus, using floor mats in hotels, is just another way to provide safety and comfort to their valuable guests and reducing expenses while maintaining a clear appearance. Popescu says, “Floor mats are of a great help for different areas in a hotel and a very cost effective solution.” “A well-planned and executed floor mat programme will help protect the floors and (most importantly) your guests too” exclaims Harisudhakar. Meanwhile, Aliyar concludes with the insight… “It has become an absolute necessity for certain hotels as a brand standard to have an entrance mat with the logo printed to create a welcoming affect. However, for a housekeeper, what matters is always the practicality of having a mat introduced in an area that serves its purpose in keeping the property clean and prevent major hazards through slippage.”

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