We are more than halfway through 2021 and COVID is back on the rise. Regardless of politics and personal choices, lodging facilities have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of their guests. Guidelines from the Center for Disease Control have been consistent since the beginning of the pandemic:
Cleaning with products containing soap or detergent reduces germs on surfaces by removing contaminants and decreases risk of infection from surfaces.
When no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove viruses that may be on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility.
Disinfecting (using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s List N disinfectants) kills any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
You may want to either clean more frequently or choose to disinfect (in addition to cleaning) in shared spaces if the space is a high traffic area or if certain conditions apply that can increase the risk of infection from touching surfaces:
- High transmission of COVID-19 in your community;
- Low vaccination rates in your community;
- Infrequent use of other prevention measures, such as mask-wearing (among unvaccinated people) and hand hygiene; or
- The space is occupied by people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
Identifying some high touch surfaces such as touch screens, doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc. is easy, but creating a comprehensive list and cleaning strategies of the not-so-obvious high touch surfaces isn’t as easy as you might think. Let’s begin by breaking out each area of the hotel:
- Lobby and Check-in Desk
- Guest Rooms
- Workout Facilities
- Restaurant and Bar
- Poolside Services
1 Lobby and Check-in Desk
When guests first arrive on-site, there are many opportunities for interaction, making safety a paramount priority to ease any concerns they have upon arrival. Many may be returning to travel after a long period of isolation due to COVID, and their initial impression will set the stage for the rest of their stay.
Consider the following touchpoints in your cleaning strategies:
- Doormen, valets, and managers should wear face masks and disposable gloves.
- Umbrellas provided for guest use should be stored separately when returned, and then cleaned prior to the next guest’s use.
- Valets should sanitize car keys after each use and prior to check out and subsequent handoff to the guest.
- Baggage delivered separately from the guest’s arrival should be sanitized upon arrival and prior to delivery to the guest.
- Entrances to the hotel should be left open when possible. In cases where this is not possible, such as revolving doors, regular sanitization of handles should be standard practice.
- Pens, once used, should be disinfected before use by another guest.
- Touch screens and any other high touchpoints that make up the check-in process should be cleaned after each guest’s use.
2 Guest Rooms
Over the last year, the guest’s accommodations have received the most attention with regards to COVID safety. This is where they will likely spend most of their time and expect the most safety and peace of mind.
Consider the following touchpoints in your cleaning strategies:
- Countertops, doorknobs, elevator buttons, rails, hallway furniture, etc. are all areas that a guest could encounter on their way to their room and should be cleaned accordingly.
- Linens should be laundered and cleaned after each occupancy,
- Headboards and bedclothes should also be disinfected and laundered prior to guest arrival.
- Glassware, wet bar and utensils, and mini-fridge should be cleaned and disinfected prior to check-in.
- Rugs and carpets should, at a minimum, be vacuumed after each visit and tile floors should be mopped.
- TV remotes, telephones, toilet handles, faucets, and any other light-touch surfaces should be cleaned with care.
3 Exercise Facilities
The risk of infection is likely never greater than within dedicated exercise areas. In many cases, hotels have completely restricted access to these areas during the pandemic. While others have implemented queue strategies to manage the number of people present within the area at one time. If in use, this area requires frequent and deep cleaning.
- Any remote controls or audio equipment accessible by guests should be cleaned frequently.
- Towels are laundered and replaced.
- All equipment should be disinfected and cleaned after each guest’s use.
- Floors and mats collect sweat and must be cleaned after each guest’s use as well.
4 Restaurant and Bar Areas
During 2020, most restaurants and bars were closed to the public and only offered carryout or in-room services. As infection rates decrease, these areas are opening again. Consider the following touchpoints when opening food and beverage areas to guests:
- Staff should be equipped with disposable gloves and face masks, both of which are replaced often throughout their shift. Bartenders should replace theirs more often.
- Tables and chairs should be cleaned after each guest’s use.
- Menus, bill folders, credit card machines, and any other non-digital items that are part of the traditional dining experience are also to be cleaned after each guest’s use.
- In-room dining should be handled through hallway delivery and each plate should be covered using plastic wrap or lids.
- Hostess station surfaces, pens, paper, and telephones to be cleaned often.
5 Poolside Services
The following high and low-touch areas must be cleaned often and after each guest’s use when possible:
- Pool furniture
- Handrails to access the pool
- Towels and Towel hampers
- All pool toys such as rafts, balls, and noodles
- Chlorine levels should be monitored and managed according to published safety standards
The hospitality industry has suffered greatly from the pandemic and COVID-19 isn’t through with us yet. Cleaning standards and protocols vary from state to state and country to country. Protecting guests and ensuring their safety is paramount. Consider adopting the above cleaning areas into your strategy, and then promote that to guests. It’s a proven way to gain trust prior to check-in and maintain long-term loyalty upon check-out.
Inside Hospitality Solutions is committed to helping with your cleaning strategies and our Supplier Network is the place to start looking for a trusted partner. Suppliers such as Guest Supply, Hunter Amenities, and Lodging Kit Company all offer PPE and cleaning products necessary for a successful cleaning and disinfection strategy.