It's clear that we’re entering a world in which ‘cleanliness’ is as important a decision-making factor as ‘price’ or ‘star rating’ when booking a hotel. As countries emerge from lockdown restrictions and guests tentatively begin to travel again, hygiene is going to be on the agenda like never before.
We've already seen Hilton partnering with Lysol on a new cleaning standard for hotels and the AHLA launching their own 'Safe Stay' initiative to 'change industry norms' when it comes to cleaning.
And with good reason: would-be travelers are clearly looking for reassurance. While searches for ‘book a hotel’ have plummeted since the beginning of the year, searches for ‘are hotels safe’ are at their highest-ever level.
Google search data for the last five years
Hoteliers have never before had to deal with the level of unpredictability that they currently face. But at least there are some near-certainties in this situation, one of them being that guests will need to be reassured that your hotel is safe and clean before they book.
Guests are making clear what they need to see in order to feel confident enough to start booking again. You need to make sure you’re putting that content front and centre if you want to capitalize on recovering demand.
Set your cleaning standards
If you’re in a country such as Singapore (where the government has launched its own ‘SG Clean’ initiative to audit hotel hygiene standards), making sure that you pass official audits and display this prominently to potential guests is likely to be just the minimum required to compete going forward. For American hotels, this might take the form of ensuring you comply with the AHLA's 'Safe Stay' guidelines.
Regardless of external initiatives though, you’ll need to anticipate the questions guests will have about your cleaning standards and proactively provide the answers wherever guests are searching.
If you haven’t reviewed your cleaning policies yet, now is the time. Larger chains and umbrella organizations are beginning to publish their own standards and accreditations, which you can take as a starting point for your own approach. The best place to start, though, is with the WHO’s interim guidance for hotels. This gives you a list of the equipment you are recommended to have in place, suggestions for how to implement social distancing and respond to guests who develop symptoms, and of course suggestions for cleaning practices and staff hygiene.
Keep guests up-to-date
Once you have your policy in place, a simple way to get your message in front of potential guests is to set up a dedicated page on your website that is prominently signposted on your booking engine. Another quick and easy way to reassure guests of your hygiene standards is to take your 'cleanliness' ratings from your OTA listings and display them prominently on your direct site: potential bookers care what other guests have to say as much as they care about your official policies.
An example built using Triptease's Targeted Messages
In terms of how you communicate the details of your COVID-19 policies, keep your content simple, well-structured and reassuring in tone. And if you have the available resource, consider a short video that demonstrates the measures you’re putting in place. Dusit Hotels & Resorts has produced a good example. But don't worry if you don't have the resource to film your own content; a slideshow-style reel of text over images may well be enough to get your key messages across. Video has the advantage of being easily shareable on multiple platforms, and is likely to see higher engagement too.
A template to get you started
Short on time? We've put together an example video based on the World Health Organization's interim guidance for hotels. You can download it to use on your own website here, but before doing so please ensure it accurately reflects the measures in place at your property.
You can also download a text-free version here if you would like to add your own message.
Please do note that this content is accurate as of May 2020, is not affiliated with the WHO, is subject to change, and that you should also check any local government guidance you may be required to follow!