October 26, 2020

How To Achieve Cleanliness And Infection Prevention Standards In Hospitality

by George Clarke, CEO of UMF Corporation

I recently wrote about the new normal the world faces surrounding infection prevention. While that applies to all industries as the world battles the pandemic, some are dealing more directly with the issue. The hospitality industry — already hyperfocused on cleanliness — has transformed its business model, increasing focus on raising the level of infection prevention closer to that of an acute care hospital. Gone are the days of lingering in hotel lobbies, sharing elevators with other guests, working out alongside like-minded guests in a small fitness center or enjoying a breakfast buffet before heading out to a business meeting or family adventure.

While cleanliness has always been a priority, hotels, lodges and resorts are facing a new level of scrutiny. According to the latest J.D. Power 2020 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index, meeting elevated cleanliness standards and proactively communicating with guests prior to arrival were key drivers of guest satisfaction, even before the pandemic. As the world battles Covid-19 and the U.S. sees a breathtaking surge in cases — with almost 8 million infections as of Oct. 14 — infection prevention and hygiene are in the spotlight more than ever.

In May, the American Hotel & Lodging Association launched its Safe Stay program, which focuses on hotel cleaning practices, social interactions and workplace protocols to meet new health and safety challenges and guest expectations resulting from Covid-19. Hotel industry experts partnered with public health experts, scientists and medical leaders to create guidelines for the industry. Some hotels are partnering with organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins to ensure the safest possible guest environment.

Although travelers are understandably concerned about infection, trends show that more people are venturing into hotels as they travel cross-country to visit friends and family; call on a client or partner they haven't seen in months; or fly to an in-person interview for a job opportunity. The latest hotel occupancy rate, according to STR, recently increased to 50% after plunging to 22% after March's forced shutdowns. With increased guest scrutiny and public health and safety a priority, hotels are working hard to ensure that levels of cleanliness are on par with health care facilities.