Throughout 2020, hospitality professionals have proven their resilience and ability to make the most of difficult situations. As we move into 2021, it’s clear that to reignite guest, planner, traveller, and travel manager confidence, you will need to continue this good work, and find ways to help guests feel safe.
Not all guests are alike, which means you will have to cater to different types of guests – such as families, couples, business travellers, and event guests and planners. Doing so will not only help them feel safe, but might also impress them!
Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways for suppliers to encourage guest comfort during their stay. To help, we gathered a list of 14 ways to help guests feel safe. Read on to find out more!
Explore 14 ways to help guests feel safe at your property:
1. Update cleanliness protocols
As event planners and travel managers source for 2021, a whole new set of requirements will appear in their RFPs. Guest and traveller safety will top this list.
Updating your cleanliness protocols is essential, as it will show consumers that you take the health and safety of your guests seriously. These protocols should include information on sanitising surface areas and public spaces, guest contact and food safety.
Take a look at IHG’s Clean Promise. Developed with Ecolab and Diversey, it “reflects the advice of regional and global health authorities,” according to Maria Hoffmeister, Area Director of Sales and Marketing for InterContinental Berlin. “Including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and local public health authorities in markets around the world.”
2. Think of new ways to communicate with guests
Bettering communication with guests during COVID-19 is essential and could put you ahead of the competition in 2021. Letting your buyers know exactly how you intend to keep them safe will give them confidence.
According to Reece Vanasse, International Sales Manager at Vienna Marriott Hotel, guests now receive a welcome letter from the hotel’s general manager thanking them for their patronage. “It informs them of Marriott International’s Commitment to Clean initiative, which utilises a QR code for guests to receive first-hand information.”
Taking this extra step could ease any concerns the guest may have prior to they stay, and help them feel safer during.
3. Provide guests with a COVID-19 test
For many countries, guests must quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival – which, obviously, makes vacations and travelling abroad extra difficult.
Hotels all over the world are combatting this by offering COVID-19 tests that offer rapid results. So, how are hotels administering these tests?
Take The Aurora Group, for example. Partnering with Halo, they offers tests to those staying at the Sofitel London Heathrow at Terminal 5. The test results and certificate are provided the next morning.
While The Aurora Group charges for the test, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai reimburse COVID-19 test costs for guests staying five nights or more until April 30, 2021.
Learn more ways to help guests feel safe
4. Provide thorough staff training and keep them updated
A well-trained workforce is key to the hospitality industry – but in a COVID-19 world, it’s critical. Giving your staff the right tools to help guests feel safe will make your property stand out.
According to Jumeirah Frankfurt, every employee is trained in dedicated departmental trainings to make sure that all procedures follow the hotel’s hygiene and safety plan.
They also provide posters in the back of house area and pocket guides to help employees recap the important steps to ensure guest and colleague safety.
Ensure staff are familiar with the cleanliness protocols, give them access to training videos and keep them updated on changes to local rules and regulations. Consider launching a daily or weekly internal email to communicate this efficiently. It’s also important that your staff know how to communicate policies and procedures to guests.
UKHospitality offers members ways to train their staff, from an online training platform for furloughed employees to the four-hour, tutor-led course: “Training on the Principles of Infection Control and Safe Working” for all front-line employees. They’ve also created a guide which outlines ways hotels can keep their workforce and customers safe.
5. Ensure that guests know their rooms were just cleaned
Housekeeping during COVID-19 is a tricky topic. How do you clean guest rooms between stays without posing a risk to the guest and the cleaner themselves? Equally important: how do you prove to guests that your housekeeping protocol is safe?
Hotels such as Hilton are tackling this with their CleanStay initiative. First, the hotel removes all used items such as towels, then cleans the room thoroughly with hospital-grade cleaners. They then do an additional disinfecting step for the high-touch surfaces in the room.
Then the towels and linens are replaced and the Hilton CleanStay Room Seal with Lysol protection is placed over the door.
This shows guests that their room has not been accessed since it was cleaned and sanitised, and helps guests feel safe in their room.
6. Update sourcing network profiles
Planners and guests will want to know if you’re open, what your cleanliness policies are and how you’re operating during these uncertain times. Adding all this information to your sourcing profiles is a good start.
Add floorplans to the Cvent Supplier Network, for example, to give planners an accurate representation of your space. Display safety information. Hilton, for example, shows that they are “Event Ready” by linking to their COVID-19 protocols page and a Cvent Microsite that explains more about their safety standards.
7. Provide access to hand sanitiser
Customers will want free and easy access to hand sanitiser, no matter where they are on the premises. Place dispensers in all high-traffic areas, and place signs around the hotel encouraging guests to make use of it.
This is just a small step, but will help guests feel safe nonetheless.
8. Install visible social distancing measures
Since COVID-19 began, we’ve gained a new-found awareness for how close we are to other people. Installing plexiglass separators in restaurants and at reception can help limit contact, and encourage a safer-feeling atmosphere.
Use markers on the floor to keep a few metres between guests and have a staff-member managing the number of people in any given area.
When it comes to events in the hotel, provide a list of these protocols to planners beforehand. Vanasse says that Vienna Marriott Hotel draws up capacity charts and diagrams for various types of seating and are then given to planners.
9. Help guests feel safe by partnering with hygiene brands
When customers see trusted, world-leading brands attached to your hospitality brand, it makes sense that they’ll put a bit more trust in you. This is what the InterContinental Berlin has done with their IHG Clean Promise programme – developed in partnership with Ecolab, Cleveland Clinic and Diversey.
Their protocols reflect the advice from global health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and other local public health authorities.
Hilton, in addition, have partnered with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol to produce new processes and training for their hotels.
10. Provide apps to reduce touch
Mobile check-in; mobile check-out; digital keys; points of sale; room lights; thermostats; remote controls; room service. These are just a few examples of how hotels can use apps to reduce touch and face-to-face contact.
Giving guests the ability to interact and complete simple tasks such as changing the channel from their phone will give them that bit of extra security.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, for example, recently launched a new mobile app. According to Hotel Technology News, the app “represents a significant advance in touchless technology capabilities in the economy and midscale hotel market."
11. Use diagramming tools to aid social distancing
When it comes to events, the importance of social distancing cannot be overstated. Not only is it crucial for guest safety, but it plays a key role in keeping guests comfortable.
In fact, 56% of planners said that “safe space” health and safety considerations would influence their choice of venue.
Suppliers can use event diagramming tools to help planners create a safe, effective event seating layout. With so many social distancing restrictions and limits on attendees, Hotels and venues can use event diagramming technology and floor plans to help guests feel safe at your venue and its space.
12. Create a video to show guests what they can expect
Don’t let all of the additional safety protocols intimidate your guests! Make a video to show that although there might be some changes, their stay will be well worth it. From check-in to check-out, show them everything they can expect.
Check out this video from Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam:
13. Clean and disinfect in front of customers
Cleaning used to take place behind the scenes. Nowadays, guests may feel more comfortable when they can actually see that you’re making an effort to keep areas clean and sanitised.
Make it clear that you’re committed to guest safety by identifying high-touch areas within the hotel and making it policy to sanitise often. This is especially important in restaurants and bars.
14. Use technology to increase safety measures
Since the pandemic began, planners have become more technological and more virtually oriented, and this trend is likely to continue in the coming future. Implementing new technologies throughout your business is a great way to not only make cleaning efficient, but also show guests that you're (literally) investing in their safety.
From marketing and sales and events to cleaning and operations, there are new technologies that can help. Electrostatic Sprayers are a hotel technology that use positive and negative charges on disinfecting liquids. The spray, as a result, seeks out and sticks to surfaces, creating even coverage. Marriott International now uses these sprayers to ensure the disinfection of hotel spaces.