In this article, we looked at the way air travel was set to change, post the COVID pandemic, but having arrived at your destination, what changes will you now see in hotels and motels?
Recently The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released an industry-wide initiative called ‘Safe Stay’, according to the AHLA this will ‘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.’ The initiative covers four main areas: enhanced cleaning standards throughout the whole property; higher-grade cleaning products; social distancing and reduced person-to-person contact; and effective communication between the hotel and its guests about all these processes.
So how, in practice will this affect you, the traveler?
According to Andrea Smith writing for Lonely Planet:
Cleanliness: Hotels will need to demonstrate that they have implemented enhanced health and safety protocols for cleaning guest rooms, meeting spaces, and common spaces in their properties, as well as back-of-house areas. This could include the deep-cleaning of bedrooms and bathrooms after guests check out. There will also be extra disinfection of the most frequently touched guest room areas, including light switches, door handles, TV remotes, and thermostats.
Dining: The breakfast buffet may become a thing of the past. Social distancing will be impossible to maintain as we all crowd around various food and beverage stations, and the communal handling of jugs and tongs is just too risky going forward. It looks like individually plated and served meals will become the norm.
Technology: Many hotels will now implement automated self-check-in procedures. Virtual check-ins and digital keys using your phone will be used. Where this is not used, changes to check-in procedures may include the installation of social distancing, floor decals, front desk partitions, and hand sanitizing stations. Some hotels will require guests to take temperature checks before entering the hotel or while staying there.
According to CNTraveler, the lobbies in hotels will be completely different. Check-ins will be paperless and person-less. Staggered arrivals or departures to prevent clusters in the lobby will be more common. As for socializing or co-working in a hotel lobby space, lingering will likely become widely forbidden. Guests may be asked to check-in outside the hotel and non-guests can’t come in. As for the actual bars, expect crowd-deterring initiatives like grab-and-go cocktails to be brought back to the room.
Leisure: Using hotel pools and gyms will now have new protocols to be followed. Scheduled gym time-slots will likely be introduced, so we won’t be able to just turn up when we feel like it.
Guests can expect at least six feet of distance between lounge chairs at the pool.
Fewer freebies in your room: This means possibly saying goodbye to complimentary pens, paper, magazines and guest directories, and other items that we love but are not crucial to the room. Minibars have been an endangered amenity for some time, and expect the pandemic to hasten their elimination. Instead, hotels might offer maxi-bars—where all items have been prepaid for—or filled-to-order fridges, which they’ll stock on a guest-by-guest basis.
Room service will become more popular as people will not want, or be able to eat in the communal restaurants.
There could also be a return to some old practices, like reinstating the use of single-use toiletries instead of multi-use bottles to minimize the spread of germs through contact between guests. But with a new focus on mitigating the spread of disease, there’s a chance that single-use toiletries could make a comeback.
And what about Airbnb? How well will individual property owners respond to the hotel industry’s post COVID initiatives? There’s no doubting AirBNB that has been challenging the hotel industry since they launched in 2008, but many experts now feel that the hotels could have the upper hand. Travelers may feel more comfortable staying in a hotel knowing it has been sanitized after each stay and the whole building is now geared to the health of visitors and staff.
So how can Airbnb persuade – let alone control – the seven million properties it lists to match up to the hotels? In a recent statement, the company said: “Airbnb has announced a new cleaning protocol for hosts that will launch in May that includes a learning and certification program. The protocol will also help to space out reservations in line with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to have 24 hours between people entering a room. “Hosts will have access to expert-backed cleaning educational materials and will be supported to show that they take cleanliness and prevention seriously,” Airbnb said in a statement. These new guidelines will be the most “drastic” change to their daily work. It means they will have to have three days between reservations”.
Airbnb raised $2billion to keep it going during COVID and put aside $250m to help pay refunds for canceled bookings, a valiant effort but still meant many renters did not get a full refund. Their main competitor VRBO offered no assistance and now faces a huge backlash from dissatisfied renters.
So maybe you have to take some precautions yourself? Here are the most germ covered areas in the average hotel/guest room:
– TV Remote Control,
– Drinking Glasses
– Toilet Flush Handle.
So stock up on that sanitizer!
Related article: Keeping reality in check amid COVID-19.