Tourism and hospitality sector has taken a hard blow from the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps more than others. Even with the government’s best attempts to cushion the hospitality sector, hotels have encountered huge losses due to the low influx of guests, both local and international. As an industry that contributes 5% of the national GDP and 10% of employment opportunities according to UK hospitality report, this sector’s importance cannot be overstated.
With regulations that allow the re-opening of hotels, hoteliers are trying to rally their businesses to their once extremely profitable state. Hotels have taken their responsibility to clients and staff seriously and have put stringent measures to ensure protection against COVID to all who access their premises. The unprecedented nature of the crisis has caused many hoteliers to come up with creative and innovative ways to get their businesses up and running without sacrificing hotel safety and security standards that could endanger guests or staff.
What are the strategies implemented in hotels to protect staff and guests against COVID-19?
To meet their obligations to the safety of both clients and staff, hotels have formulated and adapted measures and guidelines depending on their businesses’ nature, including the size and type, and management of individual facilities. Here is an overview of the different security and safety measures in hotels that have been set in place.
Hotel cleaning of all surfaces, especially those with more human contact such as door handles, reception desks, and elevators, is crucial in preventing transmission of the virus by touching contaminated surfaces.
Here are the steps that have been taken to ensure that this is done efficiently.
- More frequent cleaning of regular points of contact such as elevator buttons and door handles using recommended disinfectants. Hotel room cleaning focuses on hand contact points in the room, including but not limited to, bedside tables, toilet seats, taps, etc.
- Wedging doors open (where appropriate) to reduce points of contact.
Handwashing, sanitizing, and clean sanitation facilities are critical to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Hotels are ensuring that proper hygiene is kept round the clock by:
- Providing constant reminders in the form of friendly signs on correct handwashing techniques and how to handle a cough or sneeze.
- Making face masks available to clients and providing them with proper ways of disposing of used ones.
- Providing hand sanitizer in multiple locations throughout the hotel promises, apart from washrooms.
- Providing smart hand drying equipment.
- Setting clear guidance on the use of toilets, showers, lockers, and changing rooms with increased cleaning frequencies.
- Ensuring the availability of efficient handwashing facilities such as running water and hand soap.
- Using automatic dispensers for soap and sanitizer to reduce points of human contact.
Personal Protective Equipment
PPEs and face coverings, protect the user by limiting the travel distance of any expiratory droplets that can spread the disease. They are essential in reducing the spread of the disease by pre-symptomatic individuals and work well to complement other measures.
These are the hotel regulations regarding PPEs and face coverings:
- Providing staff with face coverings such as face shields and high-grade face masks in areas where the risk of transmission is high.
- Making face masks and gloves available to clients for free.
Social distancing measures
Physical distancing measures are intended to slow and prevent the spread of the disease by minimizing close contact between individuals. Hotels are putting social distancing measures into effect by:
- Revising the layout of the premises to ensure minimal contact.
- Using acrylic protectors to separate counters from clients or clients from other clients for their safety.
- Organizing queues (if any) within protected areas.
- Arranging different arrival and departure times for staff to reduce crowding on the premises.
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by implementing creative working arrangements.
Safety and security in the hotel industry are among the top priorities for hoteliers as they try to make potential clients comfortable and secure enough to visit their premises. They have achieved this by:
- Creating a protocol for epidemics and quarantine.
- Restricted admittance into the premises .i.e. not admitting clients who show symptoms for COVID-19 such as high temperature taken by a non-contact infra-red thermometer.
- Availing external supplies to adhere to hotel safety standards.
- Training the staff to identify any possible symptoms for COVID-19.
- Servicing and making any necessary adjustments to air conditioners and ventilation systems and also, increasing the disinfecting frequency.
Leveraging technology in the COVID era
Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining, and for the hotel industry, it has been the forceful shove to embrace technology in their day-to-day operations fully. Flexibility has been one of the most critical aspects for guests looking for hotel services during this unusual time.
Guests want the convenience of handling every tiny detail, over their computers from the comfort and safety of their homes. Likewise, hoteliers have had to deal with almost all operations online in this era of extreme physical and social distancing. Activities like ordering Personal Protective Equipment and cleaning equipment and liquids have shifted to online selling platforms to guarantee tourism safety and security entirely.
The hotel industry has undoubtedly shown the resilience and quick adaptation needed to survive and even thrive in the ‘new normal.’ It is clearly keeping the words of one Stephen Hawking to heart, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”