By Natasha Samuel, senior manager, product marketing and Kristina Trainer, hotel relations manager
As businesses get ready for a return to travel, hotels around the world are implementing enhanced health, cleanliness, and safety measures to reassure business travellers.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that 80 percent of companies expect hotel cleanliness to exceed pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) standards. GBTA also stated that 44 percent of businesses want more communication about hotel sanitation practices and 40 percent want travellers to receive safety information about their hotel stay.
Responding to traveller needs, Expedia Group recently updated hotel listing information so hotels can share the health and hygiene measures they're taking.
Hotel industry initiatives
Expectations from businesses has the hotel industry adopting new or adapting current, cleanliness standards, whether it is government mandated for public health or implemented by a hotel chain.
Several initiatives are underway by major hotel chains, including Hyatt Hotels, IHG® Hotels & Resorts, and Radisson Hotel Group. Radisson has launched the Safety Protocol programme and Hyatt the Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to educate travellers about their new cleanliness standards. IHG’s Global Cleanliness Board worked with external specialists to launch their global IHG Clean Promise, so that their guests can be informed about cleanliness standards.
Some countries are taking steps to provide guidance to hotels. In the US, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) has launched the Safe Stay campaign that aims to create hotel industry cleaning standards. And in Singapore a multi-agency task force that includes the government launched SG Clean to audit sanitation levels and monitor that cleaning protocols are maintained.
Partnering with hotels to inform business travellers about hygiene programmes
Hotels can add their updated health and hygiene measures which are displayed in their listings across all Expedia Group brands globally. Egencia and our sister brands such as Hotels.com and Expedia are also sharing this information, as well as many business travel management companies that partner with Expedia.
To help our clients with the information they need to make business travel decisions, Egencia has further enhanced how hotel health and safety information is shown to business travellers and travel arrangers. Anyone booking in Egencia online or in the Egencia app will easily see when a hotel has provided their health and hygiene measures as part of the hotel booking experience.
In addition to displaying listings of hotel health and hygiene measures at an individual property level, we have also enabled hotels to share destination and hotel chain cleanliness programmes. For example, when searching for a hotel in Singapore, the hotel can share if the property is rated ‘SG Clean’, a reflection that the property is compliant with the country’s standards on hotel cleanliness.
Beyond hotel booking, what else are hotels doing about hygiene and safety?
An improved experience extends beyond the booking process. Hyatt has announced a programme using technology in their hotels worldwide for enhancing a traveller’s experience, from well-being to mental health.
“Hyatt hotels are finding ways to use technology and social distancing to minimise contact while maximising care. Solutions like enhanced online check-in and two-way chat via the World of Hyatt app, mean care is at the guests’ fingertips,” Gus Vonderheide, vice president global sales, said.
Vonderheide added that Hyatt has created a hygiene manager role at each of their hotels to monitor that their properties adhere to the new operational guidance protocols to help provide an additional level of accountability and help to build a higher level of trust with travellers.
“In the short-term, the in-room experience will be key, so we’re working to make it better than it’s ever been – from creative food and beverage kits to private dining, turning rooms into private gyms, and guided meditations with Headspace,” Vonderheide said.
Radisson is taking similar measures. “Radisson Hotel Group is pleased to work with Egencia to highlight our new Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol. This in-depth cleanliness and disinfection protocol was created in partnership with SGS* and is designed to ensure our guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out,” says Heather Nelson, senior director, managed partnerships. “New cleaning and disinfection procedures, increased attention to safety in communal spaces, protective equipment, and updated training for team members are included in the new protocols.”
At IHG, they’ve continued to build on their Way of Clean programme, which was initially launched in North America in 2015. The new global standard includes science-led protocols and rigorous service standards for IHG hotels worldwide. “We’ve also launched our global ‘IHG Clean Promise’ to reassure guests that their room will meet IHG’s high standards of cleanliness. If not, the hotel will make it right. Leading this work is our Global Cleanliness Board, a group of IHG leaders in operations, health, safety and guest experience, working with external specialists to define solutions and implement processes at IHG hotels, now and into the future’” Derek DeCross, senior vice president of global sales commented.
Health and safety information from hotel partners is just one way that Egencia and Expedia Group are working to help the industry prepare for business travel to resume. In May, Expedia Group announced $275 million in funding to help hotels recover from the coronavirus pandemic, with money allocated to marketing credits and financial relief.
Download the pre-travel safety checklist to prepare for travel in the future.
*SGS is a world leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company.