Now that travelers are cautiously eyeing hotels around the world again, hotel hygiene, security, and flexible booking options are more important than ever.
Cleanliness in hotels is the new criterion for choosing a vacation home. We invite you to look into the near future of the hospitality industry and find out what sanitary and hygienic measures are already being introduced in hotels for the safety of guests after the coronavirus pandemic.
Sanitizing rooms and social distancing in hotels are major challenges
Until recently, when choosing a vacation home, we were guided by only two criteria: price and location. Of course, they are still important (after all, the pandemic hit hard on the income of tourists). But how much a room costs and where the hotel is located are no longer the determining factors. The latest Skyscanner survey of 2,300 travelers around the world shows that new health and social distancing are more important now than anything else. It is understandable.
Almost half of those surveyed will avoid shared bathrooms and other public areas in hotels. Two out of five travelers will prefer to dine outdoors. Three out of four travelers think hygiene and sanitation are “far more important than they used to be.”
30% of those surveyed said that loyalty programs are now “much less important.”
These are major changes. So much so that, if tackled right, hoteliers and vacation home owners have a good chance of re-inventing the entire hotel accommodation process and offering guests a whole new experience.
How will the hotel check-in procedure change?
As more hotels around the world prepare to host new guests, it is becoming clear that the entire hotel accommodation process needs to be rebuilt amid the pandemic.
More flexible conditions for booking accommodation. Details may vary from hotel to hotel, but in general, most hotels around the world now allow free cancellation or modification of reservations up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled check-in date. This applies to both existing and new bookings. Some hotel chains, like InterContinental, for example, offer “Book Now, Pay Later” options, with no deposit at all.
Check-in and check-out without documents and contactless check-in / check-out
To avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact, most hotels are expanding their choice of digital services. Some – like the Hilton Group – offer keyless check-in and check-out. Others – including Hyatt and Marriott among them – turn their mobile apps into a virtual reception. In such hotels, everything can be done through the application: check into a room and order a room service as well. Contactless payments, which even before the pandemic were quite comme il faut, are now likely to become the main method of payment.
Social distance and hand sanitizers right from the entrance
Follow the social distancing rules immediately upon arrival at the hotel: there will be clear markings so that guests can keep a safe distance from each other. Some hotels check in prior to check-in to avoid crowds in the lobby. Others put dividers on the way to the front desk as an extra precaution. We can also expect that hand sanitizer machines will appear in the lobby and on the floors, the elevator will have to be used according to the new rules, and the hotel staff will have masks. Sanitizing mats and face masks are also available at Shangri-La and some other hotels.
Disinfection of rooms and hygiene in hotels
Hotel cleanliness is now closely monitored, with many rooms now showing schedules for recent and scheduled cleanings. To their credit, major hotel chains are forging partnerships with medical centers. For example, Hilton is joining forces with RB, which makes Lysol and Dettol disinfectants, and the Mayo Clinic, a private research center. And experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine International advise Four Seasons on health and safety issues.
In general, hotels pay a lot of attention to the introduction of new approaches to cleaning and clearly articulate why it is needed. They inspect corridors and rooms using black light lamps and electrostatic filters (this is how they disinfect aircraft cabins before departure using plasma ionizers to clean the air) to ensure that everything is at the highest level. And now the rooms are empty between guests for several hours longer – so that the rooms have time to be properly ventilated.
Finally, gone are the days when luxury bottles of shampoo and conditioner were the most coveted hotel toiletries. Now, bathroom kits at many luxury hotels like the Four Seasons include masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. Other hotels get rid of things that guests often touch and that are difficult to clean (for example, sanitary pads, throw pillows, guest folders, and even minibars), as well as some pieces of furniture.
Disinfection of hotels: public areas in hotels vs. room service
Forget everything you knew about hotel lounges, pools and fitness centers: public spaces in hotels are changing dramatically. And they seem to be changing for the better.
Will hotel pools, gyms and spas reopen after the pandemic? The latest Skyscanner poll showed that 46% of the 2,300 travelers around the world will continue to avoid public areas in hotels, including bathrooms and gyms.
But even if you are not one of them, you can be sure that all the necessary sanitary and hygienic procedures are carried out for the pools and spas at the hotels. To swim in the pool or relax with a massage, now in most cases you will need to book in advance.
Most likely, they will impose strict restrictions on the number of people who can be in public places at the same time. Items that are difficult to sanitize well (like headphones) can disappear from hotel grounds. And while many hotel chains keep their gyms, pools, saunas and spa rooms closed for now, most will be happy to offer all these services again, albeit with much stricter rules of use.
Changes in the operation of public areas in hotels will certainly affect the room service sector. About one in five people surveyed by Skyscanner said that, all other things being equal, they would prefer additional in-room services, such as personal spa treatments or workout videos.
Wyndham and many other hotel chains are supporting in-room charging and equipping them with display machines. These monitors create an atmosphere of sports with a trainer – in a completely safe environment. As for food and drinks in the room, minibars are unlikely to remain, but room service will most likely be reinvented and expanded. In particular, there is every reason to think that in the future we will be able to order dinner in the room through the hotel’s mobile application. And the delivery of the type “knock and leave at the door” will gradually return to normal.