Since some countries began to lift travel restrictions, the question of safety became a top concern for every tourist. The vast majority decided to refrain from traveling, but in some situations, you cannot avoid it. In this case, you should remember about all precautions you must take during the trip, and strictly follow them.
The other important thing to know is whether the hotel where you plan to stay respects the newest norms on cleaning and disinfection. All preventive measures that you have taken may be wasted if the business neglects official guidelines. But how to know for sure, that the place that you have chosen is safe?
In this article, we are going to reveal the most effective strategies that big hotel chains use today to protect their customers. Then, we will make a checklist of markers that show that the accommodation meets all safety requirements.
How famous hotel brands protect their guests during COVID-19
Each reputable brand cares about its name and image. Such industry giants as Marriott and Hilton are not going to risk it, so they decided to strengthen guests’ confidence. They came up with the new approaches to cleaning and disinfecting based on the official WHO and CDC recommendations. Now, these changes are the “new normal” for each responsible hospitality business.
In April, Marriott International announced launching a Global Cleanliness Council. This is a platform, which aims to elevate cleaning standards to the highest level. Marriott’s program combines enhanced technologies with an upgraded housekeeping routine. And you cannot overestimate the role of the tech here!
To start with, the usage of electrostatic sprayers lets staff sanitize all large surfaces in the shortest time possible. The company is also testing UV-technologies to sterilize keys. Other improvements include mobile check-ins and direct chats. The usage of these options significantly alleviates the risks of infection, which may occur during face-to-face contact.
Hilton’s CleanStay program focuses on contactless check-ins and check-outs as well. A digital key will be issued after you make a direct booking on a web-site or in the app. The official seals are placed on the doors after each deep cleaning. And collaboration with Mayo Clinic allows Hilton to consult with the top experts in hygiene.
Some countries even decided to develop special certification programs. The latter must help hotels to reopen safely. For example, a French hotel group Accor collaborated with Bureau Veritas to create a new label for this purpose. Before booking a room, European clients will be able to check online whether the place is certified. The government of Singapore, in its turn, introduced the “SG Clean” label. To get it, the hotel must meet 7 criteria from the list, which includes the staff’s temperature screening and recruiting an SG Clean Manager.
The criteria of a safe hotel
After the short overview of the most recent changes to the cleaning regime, we can pass to the main question. How can we know that the hotel meets the new standards of cleanliness? Well, there is no universal scheme to check that. Still, your attention to details may come to your rescue.
The main precautions during the pandemic include maintaining mask regime and physical distancing. No less important is hand hygiene and regular disinfection of the high-touch surfaces. The responsible hotel must do everything to support this order.
Here are the main markers which may indicate that the hotel will be safe to stay in:
1. It implements the new technologies.
This should be the number one point on your checklist. We have already emphasized the importance of technologies in the hotel during COVID-19, and we are doing it again.
Nowadays, all responsible businesses invest in infrared screeners to check the guests' temperature. They provide housekeeping staff with electrostatic misters to quickly achieve high-quality disinfection. They buy robots, that can sterilize surfaces and air with UV lamps. At least, they install contactless door locks, which you can open with your smartphone. All these things are not just fancy upgrades, they are necessary in the current circumstances!
2. It provides an opportunity to use your smartphone for any operation.
You should also check whether the hotel provides a contactless experience. This is a key measure, which will help you to maintain physical distancing. One of the best features in terms of safety is a mobile check-in option. To illustrate how it works, we can take HotelFriend’s Concierge app as an example. All you need to do is submit your documents and signature through the app. Then, you arrive at the hotel and receive your keys at the reception.
Concierge app also lets you communicate with staff through the Live Chat. Moreover, you can pay for accommodation and services with your smartphone. Some hotels may go further and let you even control the TV from your device! To sum it up, contactless options keep you from direct contact with people, and thus, they are great!
3. It follows all official recommendations.
Make a visual inspection of the hotel’s rooms and lobby. If you see signage with personal sanitation guidelines on the walls or social distance markers to control check-in lines – this is a good sign. The hotels should also rearrange furniture to allow more space and insist on the maintenance of the mask regime. There must be free sanitizing tools available in every corner of the building.
Pay attention to whether the staff wears masks, disposable gloves, and protective gear. Rooms must be properly cleaned, and there must be no fingerprints on the glass surfaces, no hair on the bathroom carpet, and no stains on the toilet seat. If you have spotted anything from this list, this is a clear sign that the housekeeping staff failed to do their job.
4. It is certified or takes part in a SafeStay program.
If the hotel obtained a label, then there is a high probability that it meets all the necessary requirements. There are many certification programs, such as Portugal’s “Clean and Safe”, or Swedish “Safehotels CovidClean”. Learn more about a certain certificate that the hotel has obtained, so that you can be sure that it is legit. There is also an initiative of the American Hotel & Lodging Association called SafeStay. The hotels, which take part, follow the established list of standards, which includes a COVID-19-specified training for staff.
5. It provides clear information about cleaning protocols.
Remember, that the virus can survive on the different types of surfaces from 3 hours to several days. Thus, the first thing that you should pay attention to is whether the high touched surfaces are being wiped regularly.
But there is a big difference between cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning only means removing dust and dirt. Disinfection implies the usage of special chemical detergents, which kill bacterias and viruses. Ask the manager, whether the hotel is using EPA-approved detergents. If it is not, you are risking your health while staying there.
We hope that our article will help you to make the right choice and stay in a COVID-19-free place during your trip. Do not forget that the hotel which cares about its customers will invest in contactless technologies. It must also provide you with all relevant information on preventive measures in the establishment. Stay safe, and travel with HotelFriend!
Public relations: Stephanie Moench