The global pandemic of COVID-19 has massively affected the hotel industry. Around the world, hotels have been closed to visitors due to travel bans and lockdown regulations. Tourism has taken a huge hit.
However, as the strict global measures start to lift, COVID-19 will continue to influence hotels, but in new ways. As they open their doors once more to guests, there will be new priorities. The most important appeal for tourists might not be exclusive services or high-quality dining or new and interesting locations. It will most likely be cleanliness, health, and hygiene.
At the end of May, Jumeirah Al Naseem in Dubai received the prestigious Bureau Veritas Safeguard Label. It was the first hotel in the world to do so. It is a highly sought after certification due to its rigorous inspection process. And it means that this hotel can authenticate extremely high standards of cleanliness. It is a public reassurance to guests that hygiene is a top priority. And in the post-pandemic world, that is more important than ever before.
As Jumeirah Hotels has adapted the pandemic #StaySafe hashtag to #StaySafeWithJumeirah, you can see they want to present their hotels as a safe space for guests after the lifting of the global lockdown.
So, expect a trend in the second half of 2020 as many other luxury hotels start doing the same.
Marriott International has already risen to the challenges of COVID-19. In April, they created the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, consisting of experts from such disciplines as housekeeping, engineering, food safety, occupational health, and associate wellbeing. They organized a structural change in hotel behaviour, including guest contact and food safety. Using enhanced technologies, they upped their surface cleaning regime to include electrostatic sprayers. This meant a leap to hospital-grade disinfectant.
So, Marriott International is another example of a hotel company publicly showing their dedication to addressing the dangers of COVID-19 and reassuring the safety of its guests through raised hygiene standards.
Breckenridge Grand Vacations have taken an innovative and original approach. Many hotels have set up hand sanitizing stations for their guests. But this resort company has taken it one step further. They invested in UV disinfection lighting. These UV lights can kill 99.0% of bacteria and viruses. Now installed at ever BGV Resort, they can disinfect an entire room, protecting guest rooms and common areas like spas and gyms, helping keep guests free from infection.
The owners argue that UV lights are even more effective than other sanitation strategies. For example, it avoids the risks of human error that come from consistent cleaning plans.
MGM Resorts International also declared a public intention to tackle COVID-19 in their hotels and implement programs that help build higher hygiene awareness. They created a Seven Point Safety Plan by consulting with scientists and medical experiments on how best to prevent the virus from spreading. One of their priorities is to maintain high customer service standards while also enforcing the urgent and necessary measures.
Their precisely outlined seven-step plan offers reassurance to guests. It includes offering PPE to employees who require it, implementing six-foot social distancing, a review of their Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, and improving their digital innovations. For example, guests can check-in without contact through an app, which includes payment processing, ID verification, and a digital room key.
Both hygiene certification inspectors and luxury hotels are fast adapting in preparation of a post-pandemic world. Everyone realizes that cleanliness, health, and hygiene will be top priorities. COVID-19 is still going to exist, and will be at the forefront of people’s minds, at least until there is a vaccine. Even after that, attitudes and expectations in luxury travel have likely changed permanently. Therefore, both individuals and businesses will be learning fast to adapt to keep themselves and their customers safe.
Guests must also take responsibility by choosing to travel to places that have taken the necessary precautions to protect their guests, and to follow the rules put in place. And, hopefully, all hotels will follow the example of these innovative and safeguarding companies.