Will the hotel industry survive COVID-19’s wrath? Whether we’re aware or not, a collective recalibration is unfolding in regards to future business and leisure travel. This week I will be staying at a hotel for the first time since the infectious respiratory disease paused the world.
My stay will give me a firsthand look at procedures being adopted by the hotel industry to combat COVID-19 infections, boost traveler confidence and save an industry bludgeoned by the pandemic. TravelCoterie has been speaking directly with industry insiders also to get an idea of how they plan on executing some of those things as well.
Will COVID-19 Really Kill Hotels?
Possibly. At least that’s what The Points Guy Brian Kelly tells TravelCoterie. “The hotel industry, the occupancy levels are in the single digits. A lot of hotels will just never recover from this. Hotels exist for business travels, conventions. Just the concept of 10,000 people descending in one place … that model? I’m not gonna say it’ll never come back, but it’s in jeopardy right now,” Kelly contends. “There is no hotel in the world that hasn’t been impacted by this,” Yvette Thomas-Henry adds. Thomas-Henry serves as a regional Vice President with the Four Seasons, a hospitality brand with a renowned reputation for cleanliness. If hotels want to get customers back in their rooms, nothing will be more paramount than sanitation.
Visible Sanitization Efforts
Thomas-Henry, who is also the general manager of Four Seasons Resort Nevis, says customers should expect to see very visible round-the-clock cleaning. If you sit-down in a chair in the lobby of The Four Seasons, expect to see an employee disinfecting it shortly after you get up. The same goes for other parts of the hotel. “A lot of the cleaning that took place behind the scenes, the visibility of it will be more important,” Yvette stresses. “You would have not have expected to see us going into every area of the resort, every area of the lobby, every area of the restaurant and doing a lot of the physical cleaning [will be doing now],” the hospitality veteran explains.
Power To The Germaphobes
One possible method of boosting consumer confidence is by equipping those consumers with tools to ensure their own safety. Expect to see lots of hand sanitizing dispensers stationed around properties. Travelers will also have access to disinfectant wipes they can use to sanitize common areas. While hotel staff should be working hard to make you feel safe, there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little insurance and wiping down a seat yourself.
Face Mask Are Here To Stay
Expect to make a lot of eye contact with the concierges, bellboys and receptionists because protective mask aren’t going away. American Airlines just announced they will be providing all passengers with mask on their flights. We should expect the same from the hospitality industry as production of N95 masks continues to scale. “I think people are gonna get comfortable with seeing certain individuals serve them wearing a face mask”, Thomas-Henry tells TravelCoterie.
While hotel occupancy is down, Yvette ends our interview by revealing she doesn’t expect the trend to continue, at least not at luxury resorts and boutiques. “I do expect global travel to begin again and the rates will appreciate in value … I don’t think we’re gonna be reversing what it costs to stay at a luxury property.”