(CNN) – Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts collaborates with Johns Hopkins Medicine International. Montage International works with the primary care provider One Medical. For the French hospitality company Accor, the partner is the AXA insurance company and, with Hilton, is Lysol. And then there’s the new World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) security stamp. The list seems to go on and on.
Welcome to a hotel stay reinvented in the wake of Covid-19. Forget three Michelin-starred restaurants, a private rooftop suite with a butler or a five-star spa. As properties around the world prepare to reopen after several months of closure due to the crisis, their marketing efforts focus on making their guests feel safe and secure – luxury as a disinfectant.
Is the answer a WTTC stamp, a high profile partnership or a marketing campaign that promotes new security measures?
It could be, according to some industry experts.
Marketing security as a service
Reneta McCarthy, senior professor at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, says that while it is undoubtedly a marketing ploy for a brand to visibly state that it is working with a company known to achieve safety or has new safety measures, the the strategy is likely to be effective in getting people traveling again.
“So many of us, myself included, are afraid of checking in at a hotel, but I would definitely stay in a place that I can jump on the game to be safe and clean,” he says. “A name like Johns Hopkins sends that message loud and clear, as does the validation of the WTTC.”
Whatever the opinion, many of these programs can indeed help hotels create safe environments for guests and employees.
Take the WTTC stamp, for example, which is a worldwide certification that applies to hotels and travel related entities such as restaurants and tour operators. Gloria Guevara, the group’s CEO, says that its safety standards were created after consulting more than 20 parties including hotel brands such as Hilton, the Virtuoso luxury travel network and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Companies, including hotels, must apply to get the stamp and whenever we can, we send an inspector to make sure that the protocols are in place and followed,” says Guevara.
A new hotel experience
For hotels in particular, one of the new WTTC guidelines applies to breakfast buffets, a staple food in many properties at all prices. Buffets are still allowed, but now all food must be covered and served by an employee compared to the guests they serve – a measure that reduces the chance that guests infect food and make others sick.
“These standards are international, so travelers have the comfort of knowing that security means the same thing wherever they are in the world,” says Guevara. “People want freedom to travel again, and security is part of that freedom.”
The WTTC brand is widespread throughout the hotel sector, but individual brands also have their own initiatives.
Services such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, along with the spacing of tables in restaurants, the disinfection of public areas often and the reduction in the number of rooms occupied at a time are common across the board, but some hotels are doing much more of these bases.
An experiment conducted in Japan by the NHK broadcaster and a team of medical experts shows how quickly and easily Covid-19 can spread. Reports from Anna Coren of CNN.
Host the hospital
The new Four Seasons Lead with Care program, for example, includes a Covid-19 advisory board made up of doctors Johns Hopkins and hotel executives. Members will continuously review the latest scientific discoveries about the virus and implement the protocols in Four Seasons hotels accordingly; they will also train employees on these standards.
Accor’s partnership with AXA offers guests of any of its 5,000 properties worldwide free on-demand virtual consultation with a doctor who is able to prescribe medications if necessary (AXA has a network of over 85,000 doctors). “We have brands like ibis budget where rooms cost only $ 50 a night and cost less than consulting with an AXA doctor,” says Amir Nahai, CEO of Accor in the food and beverage sector.
“Our goal is that travelers, regardless of what they are spending, feel comfortable at an Accor.”
The Baccarat Hotel, one of New York’s most exclusive properties, may not reopen its doors with flashy collaboration, but has a new director of environmental health and safety, Tanja Hernandez. Its job is to oversee all new Baccarat security measures for guests and employees and to ensure that they are followed.
A dedicated employee for security or an elegant partnership may help give credibility to customer ownership, but there is no need to entice guests, says Rob Karp, the founder of luxury hospitality company Miles Ahead, who is currently traveling. to the United States and stay in various hotels along the way.
“Even as someone who sells business travel, I was anxious to stay in a hotel again, but when I went to a place in Charleston last week, I felt totally safe,” he says. “Each employee was masked, there was a limit to the number of people allowed in the elevator and the disinfectant was everywhere. Nothing was missing.”
The new normal?
But some experts, including David Richey, CEO of Metis, a behavioral research firm that explores customer and employee perceptions, believe it is a mistake to focus hotels on hygiene.
“Hotels, especially luxury hotels, are among the cleanest public facilities of all. In shopping malls and airports, cleaning protocols are much shorter than a typical well-run hotel,” he says. “Doing a big show about how well you are cleaning your rooms is like admitting that you have done it badly in the past. I think what customers really want when they start traveling again is a feeling of normalcy.”
Luca Virgilio, general manager of the Hotel Eden in Rome, agrees with the normal part.
“Of course, we are following all the security protocols, but we are also working hard to make sure we don’t feel like a hospital,” he says. “Guests should know that they can trust us but feel like they are in a luxury hotel first and foremost. Today, trust can be the new luxury.”
Shivani Vora is a New York City-based writer who travels as often as possible, whether it’s a walking safari in Tanzania, a mother-daughter trip with her 10-year-old daughter to Istanbul or surfing in the north of Portugal.
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