Hotel service has looked drastically different for the past several months. With the ongoing spikes and drops in coronavirus cases, changing state COVID-19 regulations, and growing customer demand for as much contactless service as possible, it’s hard to know what the path toward full reopening will look like.
Here are 10 important things to consider.
Follow official protocols
First things first. The CDC as well as local government agencies have, and will continue to, release specific guidelines regulating proper procedures for the opening and operation of a variety of public places. While the tips included here are good general guidelines, it’s vital that you keep up and comply with those official guidelines.
Target the right travelers
If people are traveling in this time of closings and reopenings and reclosings, it’s a safe bet they’ve got a good reason to be doing so. While travel for pleasure is certainly seeing an uptick over the numbers seen during the height of the shutdown, if you reopen with a focus on tourists, it may be next year before you see anybody walking through your front door.
If, on the other hand, you find out who’s traveling now and why they’re doing it, you can adjust your marketing accordingly to welcome those travelers to your rooms, while avoiding a waste of marketing funds aimed at those who aren’t ready to leave home.
Enforce social distancing
It’s the guideline we’re all most familiar with, and it’s resulted in all of us internally measuring the distance between us and everyone else in the room.
Whether it’s signs to remind guests to stay six feet apart, floor markings to ensure proper distancing in queues, instituting mobile check-in procedures, or creative measures of your own devising, make sure you’ve thoroughly thought out how to keep guests and staff properly distanced.
More than ever, it’s vital to have a comprehensive plan in place for proper sanitation of your entire property. Pay particular attention to high-touch surfaces like elevator buttons, lobby telephones, etc. Add easily accessible hand sanitizer stations for guests and employees. Always use CDC-recommended cleaning products, and ensure that clean rooms cannot be entered between guests. Many hotels are also leaving rooms vacant for 24+ hours after cleaning, if possible. HVAC air filters should also be cleaned regularly to maximize clean air.
These are just a few recommendations. More can be found on the CDC website.
Require face coverings
Different localities have differing guidelines regarding face coverings, but it’s a good idea to at least mandate face coverings for all employees, and make sure you’ve got sufficient supplies of masks and other PPE in stock at all times.
Prioritize employee health and hygiene
One of the most important ways to prevent the spread of the virus to staff and customers is to eliminate interaction between those who are (or may be) infected from those who aren’t. The guidelines mandate pre-work screening for all employees. Employees who become ill or present signs of illness should be immediately sent home.
At a minimum, the employee should self-isolate for seven days from the onset of symptoms, and be symptom-free for three days without medication. The CDC has not mandated taking an employee’s temperature, but any operator who chooses to do so should engage health officials first and adopt policies aligned with proper procedures.
It’s also vital to institute strict handwashing practices among employees that include how and when to wash hands, and it bears repeating: hand sanitizer should be used regularly.
Institute contactless service
Often the best way to minimize the impact of personal contact between guests and staff is to minimize the amount of contact that actually takes place. When it comes to dining facilities, solutions like those from OneDine can help you offer that contactless service, while maximizing your labor resources to efficiently and quickly serve guests in a way that keeps everyone safer.
With OneDine, patrons can use their mobile device to browse the menu and order without waiting for a team member to get to them. They can easily pay, split the check, or pay per item, and have the ability to charge the purchase to their room. They can do all this on their schedule and from the convenience of their table, their room, the lobby, or even the pool.
Strictly adhere to all food safety rules
When it comes to food safety, all the old rules and precautions of the FDA’s “food code” still apply. The new guidelines reiterate things like discarding out-of-date food items, the implementation of sneeze guards, and more. Procedures emphasized by the new guidelines in response to COVID include:
- Establishing strong procedures and practices to clean and sanitize surfaces
- Ensuring the person in charge of a foodservice facility is a certified food safety manager
- Ensuring the person in charge is on site at all times during operating hours
- If providing “grab-and-go” service, stocking coolers to no more than minimum levels
Establish protocols for infection response
In the case that someone, either a guest or employee, should happen to test positive for COVID, it’s important to have a plan in place for how to handle the situation in a way that both mitigates danger and builds guest confidence that someone is “flying the plane.”
These exposure protocols should include, among other things, quarantine areas, contact tracing, and proper procedures for immediately informing healthcare authorities.
Restrict all large events and gatherings
Large gatherings should be restricted in all common areas and event spaces where appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained.
Government regulations limiting gathering sizes differ by region and municipality, but it’s important to ensure that all federal and local regulations concerning the ongoing safety of conferences, conventions, private events, and large group bookings are followed as guideline updates occur.
Guests who are eager to return to full-service hotels will be seeking out the establishments that both follow strict COVID-19 protocols, and clearly communicate those protocols. If you’re interested in implementing contactless service in your hotel, contact OneDine for a demo today!