In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the travel industry is adapting to meet new health and safety concerns. Airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks on flights. Airbnb is encouraging hosts to build in vacancy periods between guests’ stays. Cruising is on hold, thanks to a no-sail order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hotels, too, have begun dealing with covid-19 on a number of fronts. Changes are being made to housekeeping, food safety, and guest check-in and checkout.
Enhanced disinfecting protocols
The most basic (and expected) changes that hotels are implementing? More cleaning.
As part of its new Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment, Hyatt will introduce a cleaning, disinfection and infectious-disease-prevention accreditation program next month that will be overseen by internal and third-party auditing. By September, the brand also plans to staff every hotel with at least one person trained as a hygiene manager. That manager will oversee more-frequent hotel cleanings, make sure hand sanitizer is easy for guests and employees to get to, and distribute masks to staff, among other duties.
Beyond that, hotels are experimenting with new sanitation technology, too.
Making cleaning clearer
Some hotels may be more visible in their cleaning procedures as well.
“We’ve heard this idea of ‘housekeeping theater,’” said Phil Cordell, Hilton’s global head of new brand development. “You go to a Benihana, and they’re cooking the meal right in front of you. So maybe it’s not that dramatic, but customers want to feel like they can sense what’s up. They walk through the commercial area of a hotel, and they see the frequent cleanings, with a well-known product, of high-touch areas in the lobby.”
Contact-free check-in and room access
With social distancing so pivotal in preventing covid-19′s spread, reducing contact with others is a priority. For hotels, that means tweaks to the check-in process are, too.
More than 3,200 Marriott hotels are offering guest check-in and room access through their smartphones. Those guests can also use their phones to order room service or make other hotel requests.
Hotel chains, meanwhile, is expanding its Digital Key service, allowing guests to check in and enter their rooms using their smartphones.
Employee health precautions
Under its initiative, hotel workers will “be provided with personal protective equipment and enhanced training,” the chain said. Marriott says it is “working” to give masks and gloves to its employees; as a barrier for staff and guests alike, it is also looking into adding partitions atop its front desks.
As for other countries? Hotels in Singapore are abiding by the government’s “SG Clean” certification program, which mandates temperature and health screenings for employees. No major stateside hotels are considering the same.