Covid-19 – Best Practices for Hoteliers

As hotels reopen around the world and Covid-19 lockdowns are lifted, hygiene protocols are being implemented – often in similar ways. But how can one define best practices? This question is increasingly important as the threat of second waves of the pandemic loom in certain zones.

In an effort to assist in terms of guidance on a global scale, Samsung hospitality has, in conjunction with industry communications specialists, Cleverdis, compiled an outline of best practices in different areas of hospitality. While Samsung is able to assist in some of these areas, the key is to provide a broad and comprehensive round-up which will be of use to all those in the industry.

All major hotel operators are implementing cross-brand protocols. These include ALLSAFE by Accor, Clean Promise by IHG, or CleanStay by Hilton. Greenglobe.com has also published a series of measures.

What are the key elements that need to be taken into account, and how do they apply to different parts of the hotel? Let’s take a closer look.

The reception area

Guests who seek a contactless arrival experience should be able to check-in, choose their room, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check-out using their mobile devices. The check-in process should be controlled in the entrance area, where guests’ counting systems may be implemented, along with applicable warnings, processes enabling guests to wait for their turn where necessary. At the same time, signage may be used to entice guests by promotions and upselling, while waiting. For guests who prefer a traditional check-in, physical distancing measures should be in place, and guests need to be directed as to how to move through the in-person check-in and check-out process in a safe way (via simple digital signage). Contactless payment methods should be ensured where possible. Protective plastic shields should be put up at the reception counter. The lobby should be rearranged so as to give guests the opportunity to occupy the space safely. Several small sitting areas may be arranged in different parts of the reception area.

The guest room

Hilton has devised a good first point of contact with the guest room, placing a CleanStay “seal” on the door upon it being thoroughly cleaned. Rooms should have extra disinfection around the most frequently touched areas, such as light switches, door handles, TV remotes, and thermostats. Guest rooms should be de-cluttered, with items like pens and paper removed. Hilton provides disinfecting wipes in every room for guest use. It goes without saying that guest rooms should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guests.

Housekeeping

The housekeeping service during a guest stay should, more than ever, be based upon guest preference, recognising that some guests may not want staff entering their rooms. Consider closing some floors in rotation for intensive and effective cleaning – steaming mattresses, upholstery and carpets. When working in a guest room, employees should wear gloves and a face-mask. Dispose of garbage bags in the trash cans should be disposed of regularly, with personnel wearing gloves when doing so. Hands should be washed afterwards with warm water and soap. Additional amenities such as linens and toiletries should be made available upon request, delivered in protective packaging and placed at the guest room door.
Public Spaces
The frequency of cleaning of public areas must be increased. Practice routine cleaning of high traffic and high touching surfaces(elevator buttons, handrails, doorknobs, lobby surfaces, and public restrooms) with cleaning agents adapted to the purpose of killing the Coronavirus. Keep doors open where possible to minimise the amount of people touching doorknobs. Ventilate areas regularly; especially closed rooms. Public restrooms and Fitness centres may be closed for cleaning multiple times per day. Therefore, information about the data behind these actions, including information on when and by whom the place was cleaned can be displayed, which will be perceived by the guests in a positive light. Hotel management can keep this information up to date on 13-inch displays with the centrally managed by Samsung Magic Info system. Equipment in fitness rooms should be placed to enable physical distancing, and the number of guests in the centre may be limited. Pool and pool areas should be cleaned frequently throughout the day, with physical distancing measures in place. Stations with hand sanitiser and disinfecting wipes should be available throughout the property at primary entrances and in high traffic areas.

Food and Beverage

In hotel restaurants, tables and chairs need to be spaced according to local Covid-19 regulations to ensure proper physical distancing, and electronic menus and ordering systems using mobile devices are becoming common place. One novel idea presented by Hilton is for biodegradable, disposable dishes/utensils to be available upon request. When ordering room service where it is provided, guests should experience contactless delivery, with orders and single-use service ware placed outside their guestroom door.
Focus on Guests
Guests who show any symptoms of Covid-19 must be isolated immediately. Identify and separate other guests/visitors that were in close contact with the affected person and isolate them as well. Implement a guest-friendly cancellation policy that allows guests/visitors to postpone their visit. All guests should provide detailed contact information in case an infected person is or has been on the property.

Transport

If the hotel offers a shuttle service, make sure the people being transported have been together as a group before. Avoid transporting several “travel groups” from different places at the same time.

Protection of staff members

Provide regular health checks for staff and temperature checks before every shift. Staff that have direct contact to guests should wear face-masks, as well as staff who are in contact with any food and beverages. Staff in kitchens should to wear face-masks in addition to the hygiene standards that already apply. Staff must wash hands regularly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after interacting with guests.

Establishment of a hygiene and cleanliness committee

It is useful for each group to establish committees to set-up and oversee the rigorous and enhanced cleanliness practices that will ensure a safe home-away-from-home hotel experience for guests and team members. These dedicated in-house teams are generally aided by external experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention.

Training and education

Employees need to be trained in Covid-19 protocols. Accor, for example, has launched a new comprehensive safety and hygiene training programme to ensure all employees have the skills and education necessary to protect themselves and their guests. In the case of Accor hotels, online training, as well as classroom training at each property, was mandated prior to any hotel reopening. Repeated messages concerning hygiene policies can be done in locker rooms and canteens throughout the day, utilising Business TV and signage displays managed by the property IT & health committee.

Increased Communication

Before guest’s travel, they should be given details about what they can expect during their stay. Individual property websites should be updated to indicate that the new cleaning protocols and procedures have been implemented, as well as the restrictions applicable in your area.

Upon arrival, and when moving about the property, guests should be made aware of implemented measures and regulations on your property, encouraging visitors to take precautionary measures seriously.

Avoid paper brochures and cards, preferring electronic means instead. This may include, but is not limited to, digital signage. By deploying a number of centrally managed displays in common areas, hoteliers have the possibility to update information in real time, adjusting to the changing reality in the hotels. Samsung has developed several kinds of display which are particularly applicable in these areas. These include Samsung’s new 4K UHD Signage (up to 98-inch) as well as QBR-T Series (13-inch). The latter boasts a 13″ FHD non-glare display with compact and slim design enabling efficient use of space.
Samsung’s proprietary, centrally managed solution for signage display – MagicINFO supports seamless content playback on all digital signage products . These displays enable new and effective ways to engage customers. As they are small, more personalised, intimate content can reach the right audience at optimal points in time, increasing engagement. Efficient displays, universal and simple to operate content management system and reliable performance ensure hotels can operate the displays without any hassle, placing the guest’s safety on the highest level.

 

Sources: Accor Hotels, IHG, Hilton, and Greenglobe.com