Hotel security during coronavirus: what will your stay be like?

Hotel security during coronavirus: what will your stay be like?

(CNN) – Goodbye, buffet breakfast and porter service. Hi, temperature screening and keyless check-in.

While pandemic era policies are still being developed in hotels around the world and will no doubt vary widely, it is safe to say that guests will see big changes the next time they check in anywhere.

For the foreseeable future – until a vaccine, widely effective treatment, or instant tests for coronavirus is available – hotel stays are likely to be a small deal, particularly in high-end hotels where personalized service and The facilities have long been part of the draw, says Christopher Anderson, a business professor at Cornell University’s hotel school in Ithaca, New York.

There will be less common access in hotels, “so no buffets, no minibars” and many of the “high-touch luxury items” such as spa treatments and porter and valet service may be suspended, Anderson predicts.

Guests will want keyless and contactless check-in and checkout and some personalized interactions.

“We want to undress them and basically walk to the hotel, go up the elevator on my own, enter my room without having to touch anything with any comfort that the service provider completely disinfected that space before I arrived,” he says.

In the United States, there are faint glimpses of a return in demand for hotel rooms, according to Jan Freitag, senior vice president of Lodging Insights for the hospitality analysis firm STR.

Hotel occupancy for the week ending May 2 was 28.6% in the United States, giving STR its first “solid proof” of a return to leisure demand, led by states that had loosened the restrictions.

Employment was still down 58% from the same week last year.

As demand grows, the hotel industry is trying to reassure potential guests that they have put in place additional measures to protect against coronavirus transmission as states and countries begin to reopen.

Socially distant and cleaner than ever

Hygiene, of course, is a major concern and the American Hotel & Lodging Association released industry-wide Monday Maintain safety standards (pdf). Many large hotel groups have also outlined new policies.
Hotel behemoth Hilton is developing policies with the help of the Mayo Clinic infection prevention and control team. Hilton is exploring the use of electrostatic sprayers – which evenly uniform the disinfectant over large areas – and ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces and objects.
Marriott it has already announced that it will use electrostatic sprayers to clean rooms and public areas and is testing ultraviolet light technology. Marriott and other brands will also remove furniture and reconfigure many areas to facilitate the six-foot distance social space prescribed by health officials. The brand is considering plexiglass barriers at the front desks to separate hotel guests and staff.

These new measures are sure to affect the immediate costs of hotel owners, says Freitag, but it’s unclear whether guests will see those costs in the room rates.

“Maybe cleaning fees are the new resort fees,” says Freitag. Either way, staying in a hotel in 2020 will be “absolutely” cheaper than last year.

Guests at over 3,200 Marriott hotels can use their phones to check in, access their rooms, and order specially packaged room service delivered to their door without contact.

Staff masks and gloves will be ubiquitous in many hotels and hand sanitizers and hand sanitizers will be the latest additions to public spaces and personal care kits.

The Venetian in Las Vegas it is among the many properties that underline the six-foot rule of social distancing with signs to indicate the correct spacing at the front desks, in the lift halls, in the cafes, in the entertainment places and more.

The employees of the Venetian reception will use every other workstation to space correctly and the slot machines, restaurant tables, pool beds and much more have been spaced to comply with the rule.

The resort suggests no more than four guests in an elevator. The Hamilton Hotel in Washington, DC, urges guests to limit that number to two.

The properties also outline specific policies for suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the site. Such measures often include measures of intensive disinfection of thirds of the rooms occupied by guests who get sick.

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Will guests be screened?

Temperature screening for guests and employees is a defense in detecting possible infections, but it is unclear how much will be implemented in hotels.

At The Venetian in Las Vegas, which has not yet been reopened, thermal scanners will be used at each entry point “allowing for discreet and non-invasive temperature controls” for staff and guests, according to resort news. Clean Venetian policies.
In Singapore, a national campaign called SG Clean has been launched in all areas and includes a number of hotel standard (pdf), which includes temperature controls for guests, “where possible and applicable”.

The Four Seasons in New York has followed an incredibly austere series of temporary protocols since it started hosting healthcare professionals in early April.

These policies, developed by the international company SOS for the management of travel risks, include a single access point for all those who control the temperature of each person and the questions are asked by the nurses who perform the service 24 hours a day, according to the architect of the plan, Dr. Robert Quigley, senior vice president of International SOS and regional medical director for the Americas.

But asymptomatic transmission means that rigorous social estrangement is also needed and Quigley predicts that best screening practices in hotels may evolve with the availability of rapid diagnostic tests.

The Four Seasons playbook was the first international SOS set of coronavirus hygiene standards for a hotel and has been adapted for other hotels that house healthcare workers, but Quigley has said in the past two weeks that properties have started contacting the company for practices that could be used for traditional leisure and business travelers.

But the level of screening implemented at New York’s Four Seasons during this time is probably not feasible for every property, Quigley acknowledges.

“It won’t be realistic for hotels across the spectrum to have these extreme mitigation measures I’m talking about,” he said. “And so they have to say that these hotels that don’t have these capabilities or resources,” What is our risk appetite? What is our duty of diligence towards our employees and guests? “”

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Understand what is needed to protect guests

Rudy Tauscher, general manager of the Four Seasons in New York, was in the front row in welcoming the hotel health workers. He reflected on how the traditional guest experience will change.

“Is there a different time, for example, between check-in and check-out? Very often hotels have a turnaround when checking out in the morning and in the evening, the room is occupied again. Would there be an extended period of say, 24 hours? “Tauscher wondered, noting that he was shooting from the hip on possible modifications.

Cost structures and operating models should be considered, he said.

Ever since the Four Seasons in New York began hosting healthcare workers in the coronavirus epicenter, a cleaning protocol designed by International SOS had planned to leave rooms empty for long periods between a series of cleanings to ensure that any contamination was eliminated.

But that protocol was adapted to a very specific situation. The luxury brand Four Seasons is working on exactly what new measures guests will find at its hotels around the world and at the property on 57th Street in New York when it reopens to guests who are not healthcare professionals.

The changes will include social exclusion measures, reduced capacity public spaces and redesigned restaurants, bars and fitness facilities.

“Once corporate levels are restored, we recognize that the expectations and needs of hotel guests will have changed and Four Seasons is well positioned to overcome this crisis with a new perspective on what luxury means for this new world: embracing technology , improve tools and train and strengthen our already strict health, safety and cleanliness protocols, “said Christian Clerc, president of Four Seasons Global Operations, in a statement.

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The future of spaces and high-touch services

Many of the public spaces and services of a hotel will need a revision for the coronavirus era.

For example, room service could be preserved since there is more control over who touches what, says Anderson, from Cornell’s Hotel School, but the buffets are probably unnecessary.

And it’s not sure whether amenities like buffets, whether it’s hotel breakfast bars or Las Vegas-style spreads, will ever return.

“I think only our awareness of the transmission will now be intensified and therefore … even though it may be safe and there may not be a pandemic fright, psychologically it may not be more attractive,” he said.

Pre-packaged, grab-and-go offerings are likely to be the solution in the near future, said Anderson.

High-touch public areas such as spas and gyms – where social distance is also difficult – pose a “very, very high risk for transmission,” said Quigley, with many handles and door handles that would need a lot of cleaning. careful.

But not all hotels have given up on those services.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spa, based in Bangkok, has stated in outlining its new policies that “fair and holistic lessons will be adapted for the optimal well-being of guests”, referring to private personal training sessions.

And Mandarin Oriental also hopes to offer many of its personalized services. They are still working out the details, but the luxury brand spa director doesn’t want to further deprive guests who craved human contact even before the pandemic took hold.

“If the social touch becomes even rarer after coronavirus, spas can offer a unique paradise where people can experience contact in a clean and safe environment,” said Jeremy McCarthy, director of the spa and wellness center of the hotel group.

It will require inspiration from customer trust, he said.

Indeed.

Hotels around the world are doing everything to reassure guests. It remains to be seen how quickly confidence returns.

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