Cleaning Up After Covid 19 – Hotel Hygiene Standards for Meetings

As travel and business rise again, many hotels are announcing new cleaning protocols to adapt to post-pandemic hygiene standards.  From small boutique hotels to major big box players, the industry brands we have all grown to love are cognizant in running their events in a cleaner and safer way.  From health and hygiene best practices to food and beverage safety, to implementing touchless technology, many of these enhancements are at the forefront of what future live meetings and events will entail to operate around the world.  Hotel companies are going to great lengths to reassure guests, employees and meeting attendees that they can stay safe and healthy while on-site.  Hilton, Accor, Wyndham, Marriott and many others have extended their own enhanced hygiene practices and protocols to facilitate meetings in this “new age” of meetings.  That being said, let’s review some of these key resources planners can expect to experience while onsite…

Hilton released its EventReady with CleanStay program, which is a meetings-specific initiative that builds on its CleanStay hotel program which has rolled out to their family of brands. They have partnered with Reckitt, makers of Lysol® & Dettol®*, to help deliver their CleanStay initiative for guests.  The program is both a cleanliness and customer-service initiative that is built on three key ideals: 1) cleanliness protocols (enhanced cleaning for high-touch areas, sanitizing stations, guest room seals after housekeeping, etc.) 2) added flexibility (variable pricing, space options and contract terms tailored to customer needs) and 3) safe and socially responsible solutions (which will collaborate with planners to achieve individual meeting objectives while addressing health and environmental concerns in each location).  Guests will find disinfecting stations with wipes and hand sanitizer available throughout our properties. Additionally, both public and staff member areas are cleaned at scheduled intervals, including hourly maintenance of high-touch areas like elevators and bathrooms.  You can even tailor housekeeping services to your individual comfort level.  Additional amenities such as linens and toiletries are available upon request, delivered in protective packaging and placed at the guest room door.  In addition, via the Hilton Honors app – you can check in, choose your room & skip the front desk with Digital Key, which provides access to your room key directly from your phone.

At Accor brands, guests will find their AllSafeandWell program.  The latest guidelines specifically focus on the overall attendee journey, focusing on 20 typical touch points experienced by a meeting guest at the hotel. As part of this, Accor has branded its ALLSAFE label, which represents some of the most stringent cleaning standards & operational procedures in the hospitality industry.  The brand’s global cleanliness & prevention standards have been developed with and vetted by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspections and certification. The specific label is displayed to guests when these standards have been met within their hotel brands.  Per Accor “all standards will be reviewed and re-evaluated regularly to ensure relevance and maximum efficacy, and are subject to vary by hotel and change based on the guidance of the WHO, CDC & PHAC, AHLA & USTA, and local health and government authorities”.  In addition, the brand has also partnered with x.labs, the leader in next-generation digital healthcare technologies, to offer accurate, streamlined and convenient COVID-19 testing options at their hotels across the U.S.

Wyndham has expanded its cleanliness program to include meetings guidelines. The Count on Us initiative, which bases protocols on AHLA‘s (American Hotel & Lodging Association) Safe Stay guidelines, covers five key areas of the meeting experience.  These include revised layouts and reduced capacity, new signage, more frequent cleanings, modified food-and-beverage service based on regulations and local guidelines, and the flexibility to accommodate outdoor and/or hybrid events.

At Marriott, you will find their Commitment to Clean program in which the Marriott Cleanliness Council is readdressing safety standards. They will consistently monitor and expand their solutions to ensure there is a continued focus on the health and safety of their guests.  In public spaces, the company has added rigorous cleaning protocols, requiring that surfaces be treated with hospital-grade disinfectants focused on increased frequency. In guest rooms, all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants as well. The company will also be placing disinfecting wipes in each room for personal use.  They are also using air purifying systems that are effective against viruses in the air and on surfaces.  Signage in lobbies will remind guests to maintain social distancing protocols and will remove or re-arrange furniture to allow more space for distancing. Partitions at front desks will provide an extra level of precaution for its guests and associates. You’ll also see more hand sanitizing stations – near the entrances and front desks, elevator banks and fitness and meeting spaces.  With F&B, handlers and supervisors are trained on safe food preparation and service practices. The company’s food and beverage operations are required to conduct self-inspection using its food safety standards as guidelines, also enhancing sanitation guidelines and training videos for associates.  In addition, the company is changing its operational practices for in-room dining and designing new approaches to buffets.

And these post Covid enhancements aren’t just limited to hotel brands. For example, Cvent (one of the industry’s tech giants) also has their head in the game.  They have developed Source Safely (which offers a categorized collection of safety practices and guidelines, representing over 31,000 properties (internationally) which allows for planners to easily access information on many brands while sourcing.

So, as we continue navigate through these unprecedented times, in-person events still present to be a key component to many major businesses across the US, and worldwide.  It’s what out industry is based on – connecting people from far and wide.  Today, and in the future, we will need to adapt to “new” industry norms.  Yet, the focus will remain to be able to create memorable, safe events for all to enjoy.  One thing is for certain – we will continue to evolve and focus on bringing business back again – greater than it was before!

Samantha

Samantha Meloni is a senior meeting specialist and a 20+ year veteran in the meeting & events industry who contributes to industry-specific pieces for i-Meet. She currently also holds a 3 star Meeting Professional Badge. Feel free to connect with Samantha on LinkedIn, i-Meet and Ive-Been-There.

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