COVID-19

With COVID-19, hotels have to rethink safety for when guests return

Kristin Schwab May 11, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Hotels have always been about cleanliness. That's only going to get more pronounced. Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

With COVID-19, hotels have to rethink safety for when guests return

Kristin Schwab May 11, 2020
Hotels have always been about cleanliness. That's only going to get more pronounced. Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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