With the hotel and hospitality industry gradually reopening worldwide, health & safety has been thrust into the spotlight like never before. And that makes finding venues a bit tricker.
Hotel suitability and safety has always been an important consideration; but new measures may include having the ability to take guest temperatures as they enter key rooms or revamping floorplans to respect social distancing – an unprecedented change to the overall procurement process for planners.
These challenges and requirements placed upon hotels are significant, but not insurmountable. This post will explore the approach one hotel is taking to operating within this new normal, and the reassurances they have in place for their guests moving forward.
While the Riu Plaza España only opened its doors in Summer 2019, the Riu hotel chain has 65 years of experience so has been quick to adapt. They have produced an extensive informational guide for the measures they are taking to ensure safety during COVID-19, details of which are highlighted below.
Event Staff Training
Training is and will remain one of the most important procedures at the hotel, as any new general or scientific information that affects work routines is made available. All event staff must follow a 9-step training programme:
- Definition, causes and symptomatology of COVID-19
- Means of infection
- Hygiene measures to prevent infection
- “Minimum” health conditions to attend your place of work
- Aspects to consider if public transport is used (or shared)
- The use of Chemical products to eliminate COVID-19 (virucides)
- Practical advice on how to carry out the new procedures implemented for COVID- 19
- What to do if you suspect that a guest or another staff member is potentially affected with Covid-19 (or when the illness is confirmed)
- Putting on and taking off individual PPE
The training programme will ensure staff can make things as safe as possible for event attendees.
Conference Rooms at the hotel are available in one of 5 assembly types, each of which has been revamped to allow a 2-metre distribution of clients/attendees at all times.
Rooms can be formatted to Theatre, School Room, U-shape, Banquet, or Cocktail format depending on the need.
Prior to any meeting, Events staff will have already marked the tables and chairs on which attendees can sit. The only exception to this rule will be for guests in the same room, or from the same family unit.
Examples of the School Room and Banquet style layout are provided below:
These revamped floorplans are designed to maintain safety, even during moments where attendees may be in the same room for several hours without wearing a face covering. Additional configurations can be discussed individually with the hotel depending on requirements.
As highlighted above, temperature checks are being incorporated across many hotels and venues as a final preventative measure to ensure safety.
For the Riu Plaza España, Temperatures will be taken of all those entering conference rooms, and anyone with a temperature above 37.5* will be denied access.
Thermometers will be infrared and touch free, and touchless hydroalcoholic gel dispensers will be available at each of the main entry points to any large conference room. Preventative and informational posters can also be located in all conference rooms
Speaker technology has also been considered, to ensure that safety applies to staff as well as attendees. Microphones will be one-time use only, with a colour coded protection shield to ensure that devices cannot be mixed up.
Between each activity that may lead to contamination, hydroalcoholic gel will be applied to the protection shield before being used again.
All guest rooms will be cleaned using a unique “three colour cloth system”, to avoid cross-contamination when cleaning the terrace, bedroom and bathroom; virucidal products are also then used to clean any frequently handled items within the room (controls, telephones, curtains).
A specialist disinfection response team has also been established at the hotel, to take further appropriate cleaning measures in the event of suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Any amenities provided throughout the hotel will be individually sized and replaced as necessary throughout the day. This can include (but is not limited to) personal sachets for coffee breaks, cutlery being in a closed/sealed bag on tables, and face down glasses/cups to improve overall safety.
Recyclable paper tablecloths will be replaced after each seating, with staff specially trained on how to safely clear the tables when ready, one example being handling utensils at the lowest possible point, as far as possible from where an attendee may have had their lips.
Food service will also be provided within the hotel restaurant, to ensure all measures are consistent throughout the hotel and without risk of outside contractors. All other safety measures and amenities can be accessed or communicated via hotel WiFi.
Whilst this only touches upon some of the points the Riu Plaza España is putting into place, it is intended to show the many ways hotels are aiming to win the trust of anxious event planners as they navigate uncharted territory.
Regular in-person events will eventually resume, the power of in-person connection cannot be understated; the above is simply intended as a short spotlight into the ways hotels are making them as safe as possible in the meantime.