Should hotels communicate and make visible their sanitisation procedures or should such matters take place discreetly, behind the scenes?
If the hierarchy of hotel staff is like a family, then cleaning staff were traditionally the Cinderella sister. Their work has always been crucial but they were kept out of sight as far as possible. Meticulous hygiene was implied and taken for granted.
But there has been an evolution of attitudes across much of the hospitality industry. What used to be hidden as back-of-house operations is now flaunted as a part of FOH customer confidence procedures, even deployed as a marketing technique. Hotels are intuitively deciding that customers will expect and demand a visible, comprehensive sanitisation regime.
A US National Institutes of Health (NIH) report bears out the industry’s instinct to communicate their sanitisation procedures
The report, Reducing perceived health risk to attract hotel customers in the COVID-19 pandemic era: Focused on technology innovation for social distancing and cleanliness, reveals: “High levels of expected cleanliness through advanced cleaning technologies moderate the impacts of expected interaction on perceived health risk.” In other words, hotels with well-publicised high-tech cleaning procedures in place attract more guests who would be otherwise anxious about cross-infection.
The NIH make 3 main points:
1. Thorough and effective cleaning attracts customers
2. It is important to make sure that customers know in advance about your cleaning protocols
3. Advanced cleaning technologies score points with customers. People realise that Covid-19 is a novel virus and expect that traditional cleaning methods will not be sufficient to combat it.
Hotel cleanliness measures now form a crucial part of a hotel’s marketing strategy.
Putting yourself in the place of the customer for a moment, if you were weighing up your options for holiday or business travel accommodation, which one would you choose: the one going over and above all the competition with an all-embracing, multi-layered hygiene strategy or the one that appeared to show less clear commitment to the safety of guests, visitors and staff?
As more people are double-vaccinated, specific fears about Covid might diminish, although new variants do continue to arise, so nobody is relaxing their vigilance yet. However, the importance of enhanced and visible cleaning is here to stay.
One legacy of the pandemic is the creation of the hygiene society. People are now more aware of the role of hygiene in the prevention of contagion. And, post-Covid, guests in the hospitality industry will look for and notice sanitisation procedures to protect against transmissible pathogens that have risen and spread in the past, such as E. coli, norovirus, staphylococcus, MRSA, etc.
And it is a matter of time until the next major outbreak, perhaps of another novel pathogen. Preparation now will pay off going forward, as you build a brand that cares more about your customers and does more for their safety.
So, if you explain your Covid safety strategy clearly and prominently on your website, social media pages and 3rd-party booking sites, you give prospects confidence to make a booking with you. If you follow this up with mention of the strategy on booking confirmations and any further communications prior to stay, you reassure your customers that they have made the right choice.
When they arrive, they see notices explaining the various hygiene procedures in place and they see cleaning equipment such as hand sanitisation stations, etc., as well as staff actively cleaning touch points and surfaces.
Going back to the NIH report, a key phrase was “High levels of expected cleanliness through advanced cleaning technologies” as an important factor in customer confidence. Hotel guests expect that the latest technologies will deliver the best results, eg, equipment such as 24/7 air sprayers and ozone purge equipment. As we mentioned in Chapter 6, Technology, equally, using the latest software, such as logincident, to communicate between guests and the hotel reassures your guests that you are on top of developments, minute by minute.
It all adds up to customer confidence.
We do recognise that high-end venues may want to be a little bit more discreet about hygiene protocols, lest it dilute the luxury experience.
We imagine that such hotels will nevertheless judiciously acknowledge their responsibility for every aspect of their guests’ wellbeing.
We recommend a multi-layered strategy of hygiene procedures, tailored to suit each area of your hotel. But, as we have said, the cleaning and sanitisation should not just be done, it must be seen to be done. Guests, visitors and staff should be aware of the relevant sanitisation measures, wherever they find themselves in the venue.
We will go into detail about Keeping Staff Safe in the next chapter.
We suggest a page on your website that collates in one place all the hygiene information details and where each is deployed. This information can be then replicated in a pdf document and emailed to guests with booking confirmation. The same procedure applies to events space bookings. You can also print this out in hard copy, for use as leaflets at reception, in each guest bedroom and events space. Use the same slogan or logo on the leaflet and website page to link them, for example: “Sanitise. Eliminate. Safe.”
To avoid information overload, the logo on its own can be displayed in each area of the hotel where it will be noticed but not intrude. This includes on screens at Reception, discreetly on walls or doors in public spaces, on door hangers, etc. Elytraa make all these materials available free of charge to all our customers.
This ties your whole information strategy together.
To book your free venue assessment with the sanitisation experts at Elytraa Group, contact us on 01786 439839 or firstname.lastname@example.org.