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As hoteliers grapple with drastically reduced occupancy rates due to the coronavirus pandemic, they’re also mobilizing to create safer and more sanitary spaces to make guests feel comfortable when they return.
On May 4, the American Hotel and Lodging Association unveiled Safe Stay, an initiative that aims to reset the hotel industry’s overall approach to everything from cleaning to social distancing. Developed by an advisory council that includes a variety of industry leaders and public health experts, the guidelines reflect a new concern with guest and employee safety that’s also being addressed by nearly every major hotel brand in the private sector.
“It is clear that cleanliness will be even more important as a decision maker for travelers, but with the expectation of cleanliness focused on disinfecting to killing viruses,” said Phil Cordell, senior vice president and global head of new brand development at Hilton, which recently unveiled its own cleanliness program. “With Hilton CleanStay, we are elevating our already rigorous cleaning and hygiene protocols to ensure we deliver on customers’ evolving expectations.”
It is clear that cleanliness will be even more important as a decision maker for travelers, but with the expectation of cleanliness focused on disinfecting to killing viruses.
Slated to debut in June, Hilton CleanStay was developed in partnership with the Mayo Clinic and RB, the maker of Lysol. Among the features that may be a common sight in the near future are “room seals” to indicate that that guestrooms have been fully sanitized, as well as increased disinfection of high-touch areas such as light switches and television remote controls. Hilton is also touting the sanitary benefits of existing technology including the Hilton app, which can reduce the need for interaction for check-in as well as physical contact with keys and locks during hotel stays.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is focused on creating a cleaner and safer environment, as well, according to Jacob Hawkins, a company spokesperson.
“As we have throughout the response to COVID-19, we are monitoring developments and updated guidance available from organizations such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other relevant authorities,” he said. “In addition, guests at IHG-branded hotels may observe hotel colleagues taking a variety of steps to protect health and safety, such as maintaining social distancing; using personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves; conducting enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas of guestrooms as well as public spaces; and implementing changes to food and beverage service in accordance with current food safety recommendations.”
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Marriott International, meanwhile, introduced the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council last month. The organization is made up of a diverse array of advisory members from the health and hospitality industries. Over the coming months, the company plans to debut new technology such as electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant as well as reimagined public areas with rearranged furniture to make social distancing easier. As with most big hoteliers, Marriott is addressing food safety and preparation as part of its efforts, too.
The list of new programs continues: Best Western Hotels & Resorts has debuted its new We Care Clean program, while Iberostar has launched a medical advisory board.
It’s important that travel agents stay connected with the needs of their clients, remain informed on government and/or destination-specific updates and frequently visit hotel websites or online newsrooms for announcements regarding new safety efforts.
And Accor has partnered with Bureau Veritas, a provider of testing, inspection and certification, to create a label for properties to indicate they meet safety and cleaning standards. Along the same line, Hyatt’s new Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment program this month will introduce GBAC STAR, an accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council that recognizes facilities that meet criteria for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention.
In addition, as of September, every Hyatt hotel will have an on-site hygiene manager to oversee their property’s operational protocols.
With so many changes taking place in the hotel industry, guests will notice lots of changes. And travel advisors will play a key role in educating travelers about new hotel practices, according to Cordell.
“Consumers will look to travel counselors for the latest information to ensure their trip is a safe and successful one,” he said. “It’s important that travel agents stay connected with the needs of their clients, remain informed on government and/or destination-specific updates and frequently visit hotel websites or online newsrooms for announcements regarding new safety efforts.”
The DetailsAmerican Hotel and Lodging Association www.ahla.com
Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.