This is not the first time that the hospitality industry has had to respond to major changes. Currently the managing director at Heyward Hospitality, Michael Heyward‘s background in revenue management dates to the arrival of the first online travel agencies (OTAs), which forever changed the way that booking and distribution worked. While the industry is used to dealing with major and unexpected impacts, the adjustment process can be challenging, as well as the way we know how to connect with the public.
In his Europe-focused Hangout on June 17, Heyward provided a snapshot of research on evolving industry standards and kite marks for Covid-19 cleaning and hygiene practices in hospitality. This list of developed and developing standards (which can be accessed here) is constantly changing and evolving.
It is not a matter of choosing one particular set of industry standards. It is about choosing the right portfolio or composite of industry standards that are right for your brand or property.
There is no one industry standard or kite mark.
As an example: If you are responsible for a Hilton property in London, you should pay attention to the standards set by multiple entities. To start, you would focus on delivering the “Hilton CleanStay” standards set by the Hilton brand. As a property operating in London, you should also want to follow the guidance set by the U.K. government and Public Health England (PHE) on Covid-19 and cleaning in non-healthcare settings. And, when VisitBritain releases their strategically marketed “Safe Stay” standards to help restart the industry, you will want to be part of that to help generate business.
It does not stop there. Hilton Honors members who often travel from the United States (where the brand is based) to London are frequent users of OTAs like Expedia, and Expedia promotes the WTTC “Safe Travels” standards. Then, there is London and Partners, working on their own set of safety standards, which will apply to major events and conventions; of course, you will want to sign up for those.
While you are on this roll, you may want to round everything off by signing up for the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO): “Operational considerations for Covid-19 management in the accommodation sector.”
As you can see, the decision on selecting safety standards is a complex one. There is quite a bit of noise out there. While there is no one solution, you cannot do everything – so choices must be made. You must make those decisions based on what is important for you.
The best programs delivering standards have captured the spirit of hospitality for customers, colleagues and the community. Their purpose should be to instill public confidence in travel and the hospitality industry, not only to your customers but also to your staff and extending out to the community. There remains a high level of skepticism surrounding safety in travel and hotel stays. People will trust what they see, so they need to see these cleaning initiatives and standards in action.
There are other indicators for an exceptional program, including those with elements of inspection, certification, verification and display badges. Not all programs are verified, so you should do your due diligence. Remember the famous words: “Trust but verify.” If a set of unverified standards that you have decided to use is criticized or undermined, your property will suffer from that, as well.
To navigate this noisy space, you need to be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Arguably, the single greatest factor in customer decision-making for hotel preference right now is cleanliness. Therefore, the standards that you put into place at your property can be the determining factor for whether a guest chooses to stay at your hotel over others. Take a look at the snapshot provided by Heyward of various standards available in the UK as you go forward and make the decisions that are best for your brand.
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