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Hotels of the future: Brands roll out safety features to lure guests back

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 07:59:26-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Staying in a hotel is one of the many experiences changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All it takes is one step into the lobby of the Doubletree by Hilton in Overland Park to see the differences.

Blue circles are spaced six-feet apart on the ground to remind visitors to observe social distancing. At the reception desks, partitions separate staff and guests.

It's all part of Hilton CleanStay, an initiative that rolled out in June in partnership with the makers of Lysol and the Mayo Clinic.

The new measures start at check-in, which can be done contact-free. With direct booking on Hilton.com or with the Hilton Honors app, guests can pick their own rooms and access digital keys.

GALLERY: INSIDE THE DOUBLETREE BY HILTON IN OVERLAND PARK

After a room has been cleaned, a blue Lysol seal is placed on the door. Darren Chadwick, General Manager of the DoubleTree in Overland Park, said that means no else has been in the room.

Tapping the digital key will unlock the door, and signage inside the room explains the cleaning/disinfecting steps taken.

Hilton's initiative focuses on extra cleaning of 10 "high-touch areas," like the remote and thermostat.

"We do our safe, the refrigerator, light switches, the batons on the curtains," Chadwick said, walking through the room.

Industry experts said U.S. hotel demand might not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023. A key factor in getting guests to return is making sure they feel it's safe, so Hilton isn't alone in its cleaning efforts.

IHG Hotels & Resorts, which owns the Intercontinental and Holiday Inn brands, also launched an initiative called the "IHG Clean Promise."

The company partnered with another well-known medical name, the Cleveland Clinic, for guidance on social distancing operating procedures, personal-protective equipment and sanitizer stations.

As is the case with Hilton's initiative, the IHG program focuses on reduced contact at check-in, deep cleaning of high-touch surfaces and the addition of cards in the rooms to explain cleaning procedures.

Marriott also announced its "commitment to cleanliness," with new cleaning technology like electrostatic sprayers for disinfecting.