While many businesses have been adversely impacted by the recent global pandemic, one group that has particularly been hit hard is the tourism industry with most individuals not planning to travel in the foreseeable future. Though we will still desire to travel to see these beautiful and unique locations, the global hotel and hospitality industry will have to learn how to navigate these uncharted waters and gain insight into the mindset of consumers as they prepare for reopening. As restrictions are lifted, and travel opens up again, the industry will have to follow new decontamination guidelines, as well as institute new training for their employees. I think the majority of people will avoid large crowded hotels and cruise ships for quite a while, with the primary focus being on visiting boutique hotels, taking chartered yachts, and booking remote experiences off the beaten track.

The onset of the Covid-19 has prompted a major sea change that will affect your next hotel stay. Here are some of the new policies and procedures you can expect, especially when visiting a luxury hotel.

  1. Check-in and check out may be done virtually, or barriers will be erected at the front desk.
  2. Temperature checks before entering the property.
  3. Staff will have to stay home if they have symptoms.
  4. There will be stricter sanitation practices. You may be asked to place your dirty laundry in a clean bag and call for a pickup. This may also include your sheets and towels.
  5. There will no longer be daily housekeeping. Once guests check out, the room will be left empty for a day. Then, someone in a hazmat suit may come in for a thorough cleaning and it will be disinfected. There may be a 2-3 day wait till the room can be turned over.
  6. Seating in the lobby may be removed.
  7. Masks may be required in common areas.
  8. Markers may be used to keep distance between guests.
  9. Limited services of gym, spa, and bars. Pools may remain closed.
  10. Some hotels may have apps to pay your bills instead of using cash or credit cards for things like upgrades, ordering meals, and check out.
  11. Minibars may be removed.
  12. Breakfast buffets may be discontinued.
  13. Coffee makers may be removed.
  14. Room service may be discontinued.
  15. Guests allowances may be at half capacity.
  16. Excess hangers, linens, and pillows may be removed.
  17. Extra adminities may be removed.
  18. For exercising, you may have to book a certain time slot or possibly get exercise equipment in your room.
  19. Guests may be asked about their health and travel history.
  20. There may not be a bellhop service.
  21. There may be alternative entrances and exits.
  22. There may be reduced capacity in bars, restaurants, and fitness facilities.
  23.  Items that are to-go may be pre-wrapped.
  24. There may not be a chocolate or cookie left on your pillow.

Will there be more changes? Almost certainly. As guests, we will need to feel safe, at least until a vaccine or an effective treatment is developed. Hotels will be a stripped-down affair, particularly in high-end properties that prided themselves on personalized service – a draw for many guests (I have featured in past posts some of these types of hotels that I have previously visited).

Organisations like the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins are working in tandem to develop new policies for many properties. Not all hotels will have some of the more extreme measures mentioned, but will they be worth the risk?

The Four Seasons Hotel group is one brand that is a prime example of a company implementing many of the changes that I mentioned. They have had a head start in developing policies to address preventing the spread of the virus due to the fact that they kept the doors open at the New York City location during the initial outbreak to provide accommodations for medical professionals working on the front line to battle Covid-19. In order to safely provide services, they have had to overhaul their existing operating procedures with the goal of making a “touchless” hotel, and many hotels are following their lead in using new safety protocols. Now at check-in guests will be given three bags – one for soiled towels, one for soiled bedding, and one for trash. Before you depart or as needed during your stay, you can call housekeeping for contactless pickup (Does this mean we have to make our own beds while on holiday or away for business?). They have also required deep cleaning after each guest departs and before the housekeeping staff can come in to prepare the room for the next guest.

One good thing out of all this is it has forced hotels to become super clean. Duvets and bedspreads should automatically be cleaned after each guest leaves and I have always been leery of sitting on the bed before, that is for sure. The one negative is a hotel experience will be less hands-on, with less human interaction. Hotels will most likely also provide masks and hand sanitizers, and as the Four Seasons did, allow only one guest per elevator. There may even be black light inspections. Without a doubt, it isn’t going to be as enjoyable an experience as it was in the past. Hotels and resorts used to be a welcome refuge from home, but now … this will be the new normal it seems. Will cleaning fees become the new resort fee?

Over time, leisure demand will slowly return and we will just have to adjust our expectations as the travel industry will not likely resume to the level it was before for who knows how long, if ever …

Safe travels,
Shanea

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