The hospitality industry has made many changes in the way it works over the last six months as it addresses changing cleanliness and safety guidelines and tries to bring guests back safely.
Meeting new expectations of travelers and staying on top of changing protocols is a lot for staff to manage, but it is necessary to help the travel industry return to some sense of normalcy, in terms of pre-COVID business.
Major hotel chains across the industry have implemented mask mandates, new and improved cleaning protocol plans and checklists, as well as adding sanitation stations throughout their spaces as ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and assure guests they will be staying in a clean and safe place.
Much of these protocols were adopted in June as lockdown’s lifted, but have been updated again after the AHLA (American Hotel and Lodging Association) released an updated guide to hotel guest safety in August 2020.
As with most business sectors across the globe, finding new strategies and protocols that work to keep people safe and healthy are top priority to gain back business. The top three strategies include an important reliance on advancing technology.
Added emphasis on cleanliness has been a driving force as hotels reopen and bring guests back. Cleaning staff is adapting to increased sanitation and disinfection standards and trying to keep up with increased workload.
Autonomous floor cleaning technology can help address increased workload as Cobots take on routine and mundane tasks, working as a support system for cleaning staff.
Because guests are looking for visible signs of increased cleaning standards, bringing in Cobots like Whiz produced in partnership with ICE Robotics and SoftBank Robotics and EMMA powered by BrainOS technology, can supply a sense of safety for guests.
On top of that, Cobots operate through advanced technology that can help hotel staff supply added reassurance for guests. Hotel Staff can use robotics cleaning technology to speak to things like:
Consistent and Reliable Floor Cleaning Can Impact Air Quality: setting robots like Whiz on their path regularly increases consistent carpet cleaning, pulling dirt and debris out of carpet more often, resulting in less dust and pathogens being shuffled back into the air from foot traffic. Hotel staff can speak to this when guests see the operation of the Cobot throughout a hotel.
Support Cleaning Staff: Autonomous cleaning robots can be set on their path with the touch of a button. Regular and consistent deployment means floors are getting a quality clean more often and cleaning staff can focus on higher priority work such as sanitizing and disinfecting of high touchpoint surfaces.
Fleet Tracking Technology: allows end users to track and monitor the equipment easily through an app or computer and supplies access to data that shows the route of the robot, length and frequency of clean, and any potential trouble areas, resulting in the ability to create better cleaning plans long-term.
Confirmed Clean: Fleet tracking data can be shared with guests as added reassurance that routine cleaning is being done, supplying an added sense of safety.
Adding intelligent cleaning equipment to the hotel environment also plays into the perception travelers have of a space. Environments that appear clean and show a visible sense of urgency around cleaning are more likely to gain repeat clients.
Beyond adopting cleaning robot technology, hotel leaders have put together enhanced cleaning protocols to reassure guests that they will be welcomed into a clean and healthy environment as hotels reopen and travel starts to pick back up.
Marriot International introduced the Marriot Global Cleanliness Council to “focus on developing next-level cleanliness standards to enhance the safety for guests and staff, which includes a rollout of new technologies such as electronic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant.”
Other hotels have introduced protocols to support safe meeting spaces in their buildings. Hilton introduced EventReady with CleanStay that follows three key processes for keeping guests safe: “Cleanliness Protocols, Added Flexibility, and Safe and Socially Responsible Solutions.”
The basic tenant of these is to follow all cleanliness protocols laid out by the AHLA, have more flexible options for those needing meeting spaces (including added wireless and remote access capabilities), as well as supplying added resources such as food options that follow the safety protocols for handling food and beverages for larger groups.
Additionally, the travel industry has begun to use electrostatic sprayers—basically, a spray gun that coats large areas with an EPA approved disinfecting agent and antimicrobial agent that fights communicable diseases including coronaviruses. The spray coats and disinfects surfaces.
According to SFGATE, Marriot Hotels has started using these sprayers saying, “The sprayers rapidly clean and disinfect entire areas and can be used in a hotel setting to clean and disinfect guest rooms, lobbies, gyms and other public areas.”
Hotels are researching and rolling out other uses of technology as well. The use of apps for virtual check-ins, payments, and key-less entry to rooms are being explored.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Guests who don’t feel comfortable interacting with staff at many MGM Resorts International hotels in the U.S. can process payment, verify their identity and obtain a digital room key through a mobile app on their phone. The technology, built by in-house software engineers, became available for guests at more than a dozen U.S. locations that started reopening in June.”
Other touchless options being introduced into hotel room experiences include room service that can be activated through an app on a guest's phone, and even voice activated technology.
According to the same Wall Street Journal article, Darren Clark, Vice President of Technology at Viceroy Hotel Group is working to reduce touchpoint areas in hotel rooms and has adopted voice system technology such as Amazon’s Alexa.
“Guests can use the AI-based devices to control the lighting and operate the television, while avoiding touching light switches and remote controls.”
Additionally, “Guests can also ask the digital assistant for extra towels or request a late checkout, because the devices are integrated with IT systems such as the company’s cloud-based property management system, made by Oracle Corp.”
Much of what has come out of dealing with COVID-19 is the realization that there is need for more autonomous technology to supply contactless options in public spaces. Hand sanitizer alone won’t do the trick.
Technology brings many exciting possibilities and advancements that the industry was already embracing, however building more autonomy into the hotel experience can give travelers an experience that is top-notch and provides an added sense of safety.
Automation and technology can also create a sense of awe on top of added privacy that some hotel guests look forward to when traveling.
ICE Robotics is a leader in the floor cleaning equipment industry and focuses on people-first collaborative cleaning solutions. For additional support and services contact our Client Care Team.