(CNN) – Goodbye, buffet breakfast and waiter service. Hello, temperature check and keyless check-in.
While pandemic era policies are still being developed in hotels throughout the world and will no doubt vary greatly, it is safe to say that guests will see major changes the next time they check in anywhere.
There will be less communal access in hotels, “so there is no buffet, no minibar,” and many of the “high-touch luxury elements” such as spa treatments and waiters and waitresses may be suspended, Anderson predicts.
Guests will want to check-in and checkout without keys and without contact and some personalized interactions.
“We will want to release them and basically walk to the hotel, take the elevator myself, enter my room without having to touch anything with some comfort that the service provider has fully disinfected the room before my arrival,” he said.
In the United States, there is a faint glimmer of demand for hotel rooms, according to Jan Freitag, senior vice president of Lodging Insights for the hospitality analysis company STR.
Hotel occupancy for the week ending May 2 was at 28.6% in the US, providing the first STR “strong evidence” about the return of leisure time demand, led by countries that had reduced limits.
The occupancy rate is still down 58% compared to the same week last year.
As demand crept up, the hotel industry tried to convince potential guests that they had implemented additional measures to protect against the transmission of the corona virus when states and states began to reopen.
Far socially and cleaner than before
These new measures will certainly affect the out-of-pocket costs of hotel owners, Freitag said, but whether guests will see these costs in room rates is unclear.
“Maybe the cleaning fee is the cost of the new resort,” Freitag said. In both cases, staying in a hotel in 2020 will be “really” cheaper than last year.
Guests at more than 3,200 Marriott hotels can use their telephone to check in, access their rooms and order specially packaged room service that is delivered to their door without contact.
Masks and gloves for staff will be everywhere in many hotels, and hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes will be the latest additions to public spaces and personal care comfort equipment.
Venetian reception employees will use every other work station to distance and slot machines correctly, restaurant tables, lounge chairs, etc. have been placed according to the rules.
This resort recommends no more than four guests in the elevator. Hamilton Hotel in Washington, DC, urged guests to limit the number to two.
The property also describes specific policies for suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the location. These steps often include intensive third-party disinfection steps in rooms occupied by guests who become ill.
Will guests be filtered?
Temperature screening for guests and employees is a defensive line in detecting the possibility of infection, but it is not clear how extensive it will be applied in hotels.
Four Seasons in New York has followed a series of very hard interim protocols since it began accommodating health workers in early April.
The policies, developed by International SOS travel risk management company, include one entry point for everyone where everyone’s temperature is checked and questions are submitted by nurses who manage entries 24 hours a day, according to plan architect, Dr. Robert Quigley, Senior SOS International Vice President and Regional Medical Director for America.
But asymptomatic transmission means that tight social distances are also needed, and Quigley estimates that best practices in screening in hotels can develop with the availability of rapid diagnostic testing.
The Four Seasons handbook is the first SOS international coronavirus hygiene standard for a hotel and has been adapted for other hotels that accommodate medical workers, but Quigley said in recent weeks, properties have begun contacting companies about practices that can used for traditional holiday and business travelers.
But the level of filtering applied at Four Seasons New York during this period may not be appropriate for every property, Quigley acknowledged.
“It would not be realistic for hotels across the spectrum to have the extreme mitigation measures I’m talking about,” he said. “So they must say, hotels that do not have this capability or resources, ‘What are our risk appetites? What is our duty to care for our employees and guests?’ “
Finding out what is needed to maintain guest security
Rudy Tauscher, general manager at Four Seasons New York, has been at the forefront of the hotel that accommodates health care workers at the hotel. He has considered how the traditional guest experience will change.
“Are there different times, for example, between check-in and checkout? Often hotels have a turnaround where you check out in the morning and at night, rooms are occupied again. Will there be an extended period of time from say, 24 hours? “Tauscher wondered, noting that he was photographing about possible modifications.
The cost structure and operational model must be considered, he said.
Since Four Seasons New York began to host medical workers at the coronavirus epicenter, a cleaning protocol designed by International SOS involves emptying rooms for a long time between a series of cleanups to ensure that all contamination is eliminated.
But the protocol was adapted to very specific situations. The luxury brand Four Seasons is working on a new action that guests will find in hotels around the world and on property on 57th Street New York when it reopens for guests who are not health care workers.
Steps to avoid social, reduce the capacity of public spaces and redesign restaurants, bars and fitness facilities will be one of the changes.
“As the level of business continues, we realize that the expectations and needs of hotel guests will change, and Four Seasons is well-positioned to emerge from this crisis with a new perspective on what luxury means to this new world: embracing technology, enhancing tools and train and strengthen our stringent health, safety and hygiene protocols, “Christian Clerc, president of Four Seasons’ global operations, said in a statement.
The future of space and service with a high touch
Many public spaces and hotel facilities will need repairs to the coronavirus era.
For example, room service might be maintained because there is more control in touching what is, said Anderson, from Cornell’s Hotel School, but the buffet might not be there.
And he is not sure that service like a buffet – whether a hotel breakfast or a complete Vegas style spread – will ever return.
“I think our awareness of transmission will now increase and so … even though it may be safe and there may be no fear of a pandemic, psychologically it might not be interesting anymore,” he said.
Prewrapped, grab-and-go offers are likely to be a solution in the near future, Anderson said.
High-touch public areas such as spas and fitness centers – which are also difficult for social distance – pose “a very, very high risk of transmission,” Quigley said, with lots of handles and door handles that need to be cleaned very attentively.
But not all hotels give up on that service.
Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spa based in Bangkok said in outlining its new policy that “testimony and holistic classes will be adjusted for the optimal welfare of guests,” referring to a private personal training session.
And Mandarin Oriental also hopes to offer many personalized services. They were still working on the details, but the director of the luxury brand spa did not want to further deprive guests of longing for human contact even before the pandemic occurred.
“If social touch becomes increasingly scarce post-coronavirus, spas can provide a unique place where people can experience touch in a clean and safe environment,” said Jeremy McCarthy, director of the hotel’s spa and fitness group.
This will require inspiring customer confidence, he said.
Hotels around the world will try hard to convince guests. How quickly that trust is returned remains to be seen.