Unsure how to confidently and safely resume meetings? You are not alone.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the end-to-end meeting journey is continuing to evolve. With new safety protocols, security measures and logistical considerations taking center stage, the planning and execution of travel has shifted. Additionally, the legal, ethical and financial duty of care to their organizations, employees and travelers is top of mind for meetings and hospitality professionals.
To help ease the planning process and provide an environment abiding by safety standards, hotels have implemented a number of measures to instill confidence in attendees and organizers so they may begin safely gathering again.
The New Clean Policy
As the world adjusts to new travel norms and expectations, hotels are enhancing the experiences and supporting the well-being of guests throughout their stay by redefining cleanliness. To drive confidence, hotels have partnered with and created new clean standards with reputable organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Cleveland Clinic. Guidelines have been developed to include everything from hotel-level training on safety, sanitation and social distancing protocols to providing appropriate protective equipment and access to hand sanitizers while on property. Below is a more in-depth look at measures hotels are taking:
Along with their guests, the safety of hotel associates is a top priority. Ensuring all hotel staff members understand the safety and health protocols and are practicing these standards is essential to an effective clean program. These areas may include:
- Consistent ongoing training for staff
- Completion of COVID-19 awareness training
- Access to hygiene stations, sanitizers and resources for complete confidence
Cleaning Products and Protocols
Many hotels have partners and suppliers around the world to ensure that their hotels can procure and use recommended virus-killing products throughout the hotel. Important areas that many hotels are focusing on include:
- Guest Rooms – Protocols to clean rooms after a guest’s departure and arrival, with focus on high-touch items; all paper and pen products have been removed from the rooms to avoid any cross contaminations. Many hotels are sealing the guest’s room (e.g., preventing entry by staff or others) and undertaking a room recovery protocol that is designed to disinfect everything in the room including sanitizing the air.
- Public Areas – There has been an increase in cleaning and disinfecting frequency focusing on the front desk counter, elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms and room keys as these are more high-touch areas.
- Back of the House – Outside of the areas guests most frequent, hotels are focusing extended cleaning measures on areas where staff interact often. Hotel associate entrances, locker rooms, laundry rooms and staff offices are some of the areas where increased cleaning measures help keep a safe environment. Many hotels are also implementing temperature checks for hotel associates to ensure safety.
Meetings and Events
With the safety and health protocols in mind for hotel guests, meetings professionals face new challenges when it comes to organizing meetings and group travel. Providing a clean experience with the wellbeing of every guest in mind is now more important than ever, especially when hosting meetings and events. Safety measures in a group setting are being enabled in a series of ways:
- Meeting Check-in Options – To instill confidence, options can include meeting check-in tables with plexiglass barriers, mobile check-in options and on-site COVID-19 rapid testing.
- Enabling Social Distance – To help alleviate the risk of transmission, signage is placed in lobbies to remind guest to maintain social distancing protocols and removal of furniture to allow more space for distancing.
- Food and Beverage – Masks are mandatory for all meeting attendees and staff. Hotel associates also wear gloves to ensure safety protocols are met when handling food and beverages. There is also the option to have food served in individually wrapped or take-away boxes to provide less interaction.
- Contracting – To provide meetings professionals peace of mind, hotel chains are increasingly flexible with both attrition and cancellation policies when placing future groups and meetings in hotels.
In the case that hotels are alerted to a case of COVID-19 at one of the properties, immediate work with the relevant health authorities to obtain the facts and guidance on steps to take with both guests and associates is enacted. Hotels will undertake an additional cleaning and disinfecting protocol of the common areas of the property as well as the areas that the guest(s) has been during their stay.
Understanding that hotels are enacting health and safety protocols is key to helping meeting and travel professionals feel confident to start booking travelers again. By training hotel associates on these standards of care, you can feel confident that your travelers and meeting attendees will once again feel empowered and reassured to travel again.
Key Account Director – Banking & Financial
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)
FICP Education Committee