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Hospitality Reimagined—Cleanliness Joins Wi-Fi as Top AmenityJuly 17, 2020
COVID-19 delivered the hospitality industry a devastating blow when travel came to a screeching halt back in March. As vacations, business travel, and weddings were put on the backburner, hotels experienced an unprecedented disruption that shook the industry to its core. But hoteliers are a resilient bunch. They know that travel in a post-coronavirus world will require a rapid shift in priorities, and they have risen to the challenge. Foremost in their minds is making their hotels safe spaces for their guests. As they begin to turn the lights back on and welcome visitors once again, we’ll see new design strategies and technologies aimed at reassuring us that our health and safety are their top priority.
So far, during the pandemic, US hotels have lost more than $31 billion in room revenue. The hospitality and leisure industry lost as many jobs as construction, government, manufacturing, retail, education, and health services combined. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is an essential first step in aiding the hotel industry. Single Digits has also supported our hotel customers with our 90-day COVID Relief Billing Program. Hotel owners and management are optimistic, and many have taken on deep cleaning, hefty maintenance, and improvement projects to take advantage of their empty properties.
One Thing We Know for Sure, Your Next Hotel Stay Will Be Your Cleanest
When hotels reopen, cleaning will be the top priority. Hotels will need to be transparent and share their safety and cleaning protocols with the public. Disaster seems to bring out the good in people, and we have seen many examples of people working together to help others during this pandemic. The hospitality industry will need to collaborate to help make travel safe again and begin to recover their financial losses. The AHLA (American Hotel & Lodging Association) has created Safe Stay, a common set of cleaning and safety practices for the industry. Many hotel brands are partnering with experts to develop their own set of guidelines as well. Hilton partnered with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic to create Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection—a new standard for hotel cleanliness from check-in to check-out. Marriott International created the Global Cleanliness Council which is developing new standards for its cleaning procedures.
At Single Digits we released our own set of Health and Hygiene Guidelines that we (and our partners) follow when visiting our customers and their properties. The safety of our customers and employees is our top concern—we even have guidelines on how our customers can work within ours. If we continue to work together, developing and adhering to high standards of cleanliness, it will allow guests to rest easy while also protecting hotel employees.
Travel Today: Staycations and Road Trips
As the process of reopening begins, hotels are preparing their properties, and many travelers are contemplating a staycation in their home state. Memorial Day weekend saw an increase in hotel stays in many locations; a seaside Best Western hotel in Oregon had 100% occupancy during the holiday weekend. Road trips are making a resurgence, and it seems people will put in the miles for a change in scenery; for instance, Arizona hotels saw a high percentage of Texas visitors over Memorial Day Weekend. With the perfect timing of summer vacation and states reopening, most of our hotel customers who took advantage of our 90-day COVID Relief Billing Program planned to reopen in June and catering to “local” travelers sounds like an excellent first step.
Our Desire to Travel Has Not Gone Away
The big question is when and how many will begin to travel again? Trip Advisor released findings recently that confirmed consumer demand for travel is resilient. They reported that 41% of travelers polled said they would take the same or more trips than last year. We have not lost our wanderlust—if anything, being “stuck” at home all these months has increased our desire to get away. According to USA Today, web traffic on top booking sites is up as Americans are starting to browse for vacations. Many travelers will be looking for destinations off the beaten path with lots of outside activities and fewer crowds. Hotels are advertising great deals to attract this first wave of intrepid travelers; some luxury properties are booking at rates as much as 30-40% off. Countries in Europe are forming travel bubbles and corridors, where groups of countries are letting citizens travel freely to and from these countries without quarantines or restrictions. For those dreaming of international travel, once borders are open, check out these once-in-a-lifetime deals in Asia.
The Post-COVID Hotel Stay
There’s no doubt things will be different. We will refer to travel as pre-COVID and post-COVID. Most hotels will offer a flexible cancellation policy, as we are uncertain about the future and COVID-19 surges. When you arrive at your room, there will most likely be a seal on your door, proving that no one has entered your room since housekeeping cleaned it. At many hotels, rooms will not be cleaned during your stay unless you specifically ask for service. The TV remote will also have some proof that it was sanitized. The paper and pen will not be on the desk, and the guest directory and room service menu will be offered digitally through the mobile app in place of the binder left in your room.
Wi-Fi enabled technology will no doubt play a significant role in the new normal at hotels. At your next hotel stay you may encounter:
- Touchless check-in, check-out and room service using mobile applications
- IoT in guest rooms to support a touchless environment through voice-enabled virtual assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, for adjusting music, ordering towels, controlling in-room lighting, thermostats, and smart TVs
- Touchless elevators and keyless room entry
Behind the scenes, a fast, reliable, and secure Wi-Fi network will be necessary to ensure this technology works seamlessly without a glitch. High-capacity connectivity, speed, and bandwidth will become even more critical in the upcoming months and years. For best results, work with a partner that can design, deploy, and manage your network, taking Wi-Fi hassles off your hands. A turnkey Wi-Fi network solution from Single Digits will ensure your hotel meets the technology and safety demands of a post-COVID hotel stay.
How Are You Coping?
How has COVID-19 impacted your hotel business? Single Digits is here for you during these extraordinary times, and we are interested in hearing about your experiences. We want to understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on your business and where we can help. Please take a few minutes to complete our brief survey: The Impact of Covid on Hospitality & Connectivity. We already know our customers are resilient; we are confident we will get through this together and emerge stronger than ever.
By Denise Chamberlin
Freelance Technology Writer