Marriott is using electrostatic sprayers — which uniformly mist disinfectant across wide areas — to clean guest hotel rooms and public areas.
The Venetian in Vegas has instituted more than 800 separate initiatives, including thermal scanners at every entry point “allowing discreet and noninvasive temperature checks” for staff and guests.
Hotels in Singapore are following a seven-point program to earn the SG Clean Quality Mark and hotels in Denmark are using ACT CleanCoat, a long term-disinfectant that eliminates microbes such as Ebola, E. coli, viruses, mold spores and allergens, to clean rooms.
Cleanliness has just surpassed luxury as the new benchmark in hotel selection.
Duty of Care to Guests and Employees
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, you’re going to want your hotel room to be your safe place — a completely clean and trusted environment for you to relax and rejuvenate.
How can you make sure the hotel, lodge or inn you choose is the right one for you?
In May, the American Hotel and Lodging Association rolled out a Safe Stay Initiative designed to “change hotel industry norms, behaviors and standards to ensure both hotel guests and employees are confident in the cleanliness and safety of hotels once travel resumes.”
It is the first step in developing a series of best practices for the industry.
“Hotels will need to reshape their duty of care policies to meet the new public health guidelines for coronavirus,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue. “This includes health and safety standards to ensure the safety and well-being of guests, employees and vendors.”
Health Is the New Safety Standard
Price, availability, security, location have been the first thoughts for trip planning travelers, but coronavirus has turned that on its head.
“Health has always been a priority, but now it’s even more of a priority,” said Harding Bush, associate operations manager at Global Rescue. “You might get robbed, you might get in a car accident, but if you are traveling, especially overseas, becoming ill is the greater risk.”
Travel health concerns have expanded from jet lag and food poisoning to COVID-19 and quarantines.
“Now you’ll be asking questions about health risks, similar to what you would ask if you were researching safety precautions. Then you’ll balance the answers with the need to get the business done, or the joy of the trip,” Bush said.
Global Rescue’s operations team has its fingers on the pulse of the travel industry, researching destinations, hospitals, clinics and even hotels for health, safety and security issues on a daily basis. Experts in the Lebanon, New Hampshire office have put together 10 tips to help travelers select a hotel that meets their travel needs during these unprecedented times.
Before You Arrive
1. Stick with what you know
On your first trip out in a coronavirus world, choose a hotel you’ve patronized before.
“Ask yourself: Have you stayed there before? Was it clean? What was traffic pattern like? Are there six elevators or one tiny elevator?” Bush said.
Hotels are designed for security reasons, but these reasons — bigger rooms, open areas — are key components of social distancing.
“Stay at a hotel you know has a lack of congestion and a good traffic flow, perhaps with people coming in one door and out the other,” Bush said.
2. Go to the hotel’s website
See what procedures the hotel has put in place to keep guest safe. The larger hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and Windham have a website section dedicated to COVID-19.
Smaller hotels and inns will have opening dates or COVID-19 operational changes posted on the home page.
3. Check online reviews
Once you’ve gone to the source, find alternative sources of information: online reviews, AAA guidelines and talk to friends and co-workers who have stayed there recently.
4. Go direct to the source
If you still have questions, call. Go through your checklist and get the answers you need to make you feel comfortable about your decision to stay at this particular hotel.
It’s what Global Rescue security experts do when they are researching a location for safety. Security questions might include distance to and from the airport, the amount of roadside traffic, security personnel on site and crime rates. Your coronavirus hotel stay questions may be different but no less important.
When You Arrive
5. Look for sanitizer stations
Freestanding sanitizer stations have cropped up on gas pumps and now have more prominence at retail stores. You’re going to see them in hotel lobbies. It’s part of AHLA’s new Safe Stay guidelines to have sanitizer available at entrances and contact areas. Some hotels may even offer a “corona kit” with sanitizer, gloves and soap, right next to the shampoo and conditioner.
6. Opt for touchless check in
Less personal interaction means less risk of transmission. Moving forward, you may check in (and out) of your hotel using a kiosk. You may use a cell phone to check in, or your cell phone might be your room key.
Choice Hotels is offering guests this type of keyless entry. Arrivals and departures may be staggered to limit social contact.
If you’re staying at a smaller hotel, local inn or lodge, high-tech safety protocols may take a bit longer to implement. Look for instructive signage, barriers at the front desk to separate guests and staff, and be sure everyone is masked and gloved.
7. Adhere to social distancing practices
You may see a variety of initiatives to reduce person-to-person contact. Hotels may remove furniture from the lobby, reconfigure the business center, or reduce gym equipment to facilitate the six-foot social distancing space prescribed by health officials. Elevators, usually meant to hold up to 15 people, may now carry two or four guests at a time.
During Your Stay
8. Confirm enhanced cleaning standards
The AHLA Safe Stay guide, updated daily, offers cleaning products and protocol suggestions, following the CDC’s guidelines for disinfecting buildings and facilities. These enhanced cleaning standards will happen throughout the hotel: guest rooms, meeting spaces, common areas and back-of-the-house spaces.
Hilton, for example, is closing its hotel gym several times a day for extra cleaning. Sandals Resorts, as part of its Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness program, inspects and cleans public restrooms every 20 minutes.
9. Be prepared for no-contact service
Room service will most likely leave food outside your door. Housekeeping will only enter your room after you’ve left. Buffet breakfasts will go the way of the dinosaur and you’ll be more likely to see grab-and-go food offerings, such as individually packaged muffins, in the lobby.
Inside your room, there might be fewer amenities than you remember: no pens or pads of paper, no local magazines, less linens, such as decorative pillows, blankets and robes. The less items there are in the room, the less items there are to clean.
10. Amp up your precautions
Here are a few extra suggestions to keep in your coronavirus safety wheelhouse:
- Choose a hotel with a breakfast option. “Then you’ll only have to go to one place, not two,” Bush said.
- Wear a face covering in public spaces.
- Bring your own cleaning supplies. Click here for a list of what you should put in your COVID-19 travel bag.
- Wipe down all high touch surfaces, like door handles with disinfectant wipes, even if housekeeping did. Pay special attention to the germiest item in the room: the remote control.
- Limit time in common areas, like the gym and pool.
- Sign up for a Global Rescue travel protection services membership, which will provide medical advisory and medical evacuation services when and if you need them.
“While it is important to not be afraid while traveling, it is also important to be prepared and do the homework,” says Kimberly Franke of Kanna Travel, a Global Rescue Safe Travel Partner. “If you do hurt yourself or get sick while traveling, at least you have thought through your options versus being caught off guard and by surprise.”