By Pierre Verbeke
Big hotel names such as Hilton, Marriott, Accor and Kempinsky have issued new initiatives concerning hotel cleaning and hygiene. While they are bringing safety and peace of mind to customers and staff alike, they also are also giving the impression of putting forward short-term answers to the COVID-19 problem.
How will Covid-19 measures affect your hotel experience?
Be ready to perform a lot more pre-arrival and arrival activities on your own devises. Contactless will be favored and the use of apps intensified.
App functions already in use today include:
- Opening your room door
- Replacing the TV remote control and other commands in the room, (sound, light, blinds)
- Replacing physical menus
- Calling the staff for table/room service
- Virtual meetings with colleagues or with hotel staff
- Exchanging messages and information, e.g. emergency messages
- Acknowledging physical presence in the premises (also useful for security reasons)
Changes to your hotel room
- You might find your room sealed after the room attendant has cleaned it so that you know that you’re the first person entering it.
- You might be informed of the type of products that have been used to clean and disinfect the surfaces.
- You will be able to indicate to the hotel that you do not want anybody to enter your room during your stay, possibly sealing the room yourself.
- You might find your remote control, if there is one, put into a sealable disposable bag that guarantees that you’ll be the first to touch it after cleaning.
- The minibar menu could very well be augmented and you will be able to have masks, gloves, sanitation gel at your disposal in the room.
- Some guests may even ask for or receive equipment to clean some surfaces themselves.
- Bath linen could be presented in disposable bags.
- Staff will have to be retrained on the importance of these new ways of dealing with their daily activities.
Changes at the restaurant
- Menus on screen displays, on boards or via apps.
- Tableware in sealable envelopes. Some restaurants are preparing for cutlery, glasses and table sets in disposable and sealed bags, (like chopsticks in Japan).
- More staff in attendance and individual sealed food portions instead of large food containers (à la buffet style).
- Chefs reinventing menus to suit this reality.
- Customers entering the restaurant from one direction and exiting from another.
- Restrictions on numbers of tables and people, affecting the layout and design of the establishment.
The cost of these new measures?
Whether outsourced or not, the amount spent per cleaned room on staff and on products is the focus point of all hotel managers, as hotel departmental profit is what drives the overall GOP in most hotels. Some of the activities that will be added in (room) cleaning come with more minutes spent per activity and therefore more cost. The same is true with use of additional products. Hoteliers coming out of COVID-19 will have little to no cash reserves to absorb these costs in part or in total.
As for the environmental cost… In the past years, we have seen a tendency to do away with disposable packaging, the idea being to have more bulk goods for the customer to help themselves to, e.g. food and drink dispensers. We have also leaned towards less impactful products, easier on humans and on the environment. These practices, unfortunately, may have to be questioned since the new hygiene measures will affect all hotel operations, from large leisure destination hotels to small family-run mountain retreats. Use of plastic is on the rise and the disposal of PPE is sadly affecting waste dumping everywhere.