o say that COVID-19 has had a major impact on the hospitality industry would be a gross understatement. While we won’t rehash the statistics regarding closings, furloughs, occupancy rates, profit loss, construction projects and the like, let’s just say it hasn’t been pretty. Though this has certainly been a challenging time for the industry, the hotel and hospitality industry reacted quickly to put enhanced safety measures in place, along with updated technological capabilities that will not only help to see the industry through the current COVID-19 crisis, but will also help ensure a stronger future.
One of the biggest challenges the hospitality industry faces is assuring guests that their health will always be protected during their stay.
Here are just a few measures the hospitality industry has taken to ensure guest safety:
- Cleaning Protocols: It should come as no surprise that cleaning protocols and personal safety measures are at the top of the list. And the hospitality industry has responded in a big way. Hotels have had to identify critical touch points and make sure there are cleaning protocols in place for each one. Protocols include cleaning and sanitizing of guest rooms, lobby areas, pool areas, restaurants, and exercise areas. Literally any area where human contact occurs. Measures have also been taken to ensure social distancing in community areas. Touchless hand sanitizers have been installed. Television remotes are sanitized and placed in plastic bags. Doors to sanitized guest rooms that are ready to be occupied are sealed to provide visual evidence that the room has been cleaned and sanitized. Items that used to be commonplace like pens, note pads, magazines, etc. have been removed from guest rooms to reduce exposure to potential virus threats. And most of the major hotel properties have added their cleaning protocols and policies to their websites for guest review prior to their visit.
- Technology: Many hotels already had the capacity for online check-in and digital access to guest rooms. Those that previously did not have those options are now in the process of quickly putting those capabilities into place. The goal, of course, is to make as many interactions as touchless as possible to reduce the risk of exposure. For properties that are still using card access to guest rooms, here is an excellent article on the safe cleaning of credit cards.
- Local Community Guidelines and Attractions: Guests want to be kept up to date on the safety protocols that are in place for the community they will be visiting. They also want to know the status of the area’s most popular destinations and attractions. So far resorts that are located in popular tourist destinations have been the most active in working with their communities to ensure their guests are able to enjoy everything the community has to offer. Generally speaking, we have not seen much evidence of local community safety protocols or the operating status of popular destinations and attractions on most hotel websites. The addition of this information to the website home page would be a great way to attract more guests who want to know what safety protocols to expect and the operating status of local destinations and attractions.
Even as COVID-19 continues to be a health and safety threat, both personal and business travel is beginning to open back up. And as we said earlier, the hospitality industry has done an outstanding job ensuring the safety of both guests and staff through the implementation of comprehensive safety and sanitation protocols. The industry has also committed to taking advantage of everything technology has to offer, both regarding safety and convenience. While these are critical to guest safety and peace of mind during the COVID-19 crisis, it is also clear that enhanced safety protocols and continued advances in the use of technology will be the order of the day for life after COVID-19 in the hospitality industry. Those who embrace this new “normal” of safety protocols and advanced technology, and who market it well, will most definitely have a competitive advantage.