With COVID-19, hotels have to rethink safety for when guests return
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Quarterly results from Marriott out today show the hotel operator’s profit for the first three months of the year was well below expectations. It did, however, beat on revenue, and the company says lodging demand has stabilized.
Like most industries, hospitality has been turned upside down by COVID-19. And to make people feel comfortable staying in hotels again, companies are going to have to rethink the experience.
Some of the things people love about hotels — the pool, the spa, housekeeping — can make folks feel uneasy these days.
“Hotels have always been about clean. But now it’s going to be about clean with a double exclamation point,” said Phil Cordell, global head of new brand development at Hilton.
Cordell says the company is paying special attention to “high-touch” areas like light switches and TV remotes. Starting in June, when guests get to their rooms, there will be a sticker seal on the door that says the room has been cleaned with Lysol.
All this is about keeping people safe. But Robert Cole at market research firm Phocuswright says it’s also a bit of theater, “to demonstrate we’re doing everything we can to keep you safe.”
Safety and perceived safety is going to be the most important piece of getting customers back. And a lot of this will fall on who Cole says is the industry’s most important employee: “It’s not the general manager, it’s not the chef, it’s not the concierge. It’s the housekeeper.”
This is another business where the coronavirus has put a light on just how valuable hourly workers are.
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