As hotels in warmer drive-to markets across the U.S. begin opening their doors and serving guests again, the importance of a safe and sanitized environment has become top priority.
Branded hotel operators will have specific guidelines and protocols to follow, starting with common areas to be stocked with hand sanitizer for guests and staff, masked employees, and availability and use of proper sanitization products. Independent hotels should build, follow and communicate their own strict guidelines.
Below are three areas hoteliers must focus on as they prepare to open a clean and safe environment for returning guests.
A New Arrival
The main concern is to keep employees safe so that guests can also stay healthy. That means hoteliers will need to update their practices.
- Practice social distancing: Ensure your team members are appropriately distanced from one another. Additionally, make it easy for guests to know how to line up by taping off waiting areas that provide at least 6 feet of distance on all sides.
- Provide employees with protective gear: Hoteliers need to provide face masks for every employee. It is far safer to make this essential piece of equipment accessible to everyone on the team instead of relying on your staff to bring their own from home.
- Install physical barriers: Because front desk transactions have traditionally been a close-range operation, hoteliers should consider installing Plexiglas screens at the desk to keep both employees and guests safe.
- Ensure proper sanitization products are available: Employees should have access to disinfectant wipes to clean high-touch areas such as computers and keycards, in addition to readily available hand sanitizer for the team and guests.
Communication is Key
While implementing cleaning best practices is critical, it’s just as important to communicate to guests exactly what you are doing to keep them safe. After all, if guests don’t feel safe, they won’t book your hotel.
We see opportunities for hotels to detail their cleaning practices in video, and then ensure those videos are available at all booking points and in confirmation emails. Videos can be as simple as educating the traveler on what protocols you’re following to prepare rooms for the next guest, including a strong emphasis on disinfecting protocols. What to discuss in your video:
- Tell guests what products you use to clean: List the products, how they are used, and why they are effective to ensure guests that you don’t take cleaning lightly.
- Show hand sanitizing stations: This immediately communicates to guests that your property takes cleanliness seriously. Show sanitizer in high-touch areas, such as elevators.
- Use the video to train staff: Your team needs to be knowledgeable about all of the efforts happening in every department of the hotel. Guests should be able to ask any team member they encounter and receive an educated answer.
New Cleaning Solutions
Using technology to assist in sanitization will be critical. Ultraviolet light will be efficient for small items like keycards and employee and guest cellphones, but for larger housekeeping duties we see a quick adoption of disinfectant sprayers.
Electrostatic sprayers are in such high demand that manufacturers are backed up, but operators have alternatives. A rundown:
- Electrostatic sprayer: Past EPA studies show that, compared to traditional sprayer systems, electrostatic spray technology is most efficient, reduces waste and delivers a more uniform distribution of liquids over uneven surfaces.
- Vapor sprayer: Also called “foggers,” these suspend small liquid droplets in the air to settle dust and asbestos, and to apply cleaning and disinfection chemicals. Fogging offers faster application, more uniform coverage and quicker dry time.
- Airless disinfectant sprayer: Airless sprayers maximize application speed and allow users to cover entire buildings quickly.
While it’s understandable that hoteliers are scrambling to serve their guests, the lessons we’ve learned in sustainability should not be – pun intended – thrown in the trash. While it’s OK to think short term, hoteliers must not forget the environmental and economical benefits of dispensed amenities over single-use plastics.