Hilton is partnering with the company behind Lysol, as well as the Mayo Clinic, to better ensure cleanliness in its hotels — part of a hygienic industry trend in the wake of the new coronavirus.
The new program will be called "Hilton CleanStay" in North America and aims to to give guests peace of mind when staying at a Hilton property, whether they are in guest rooms, restaurants, the gym or other public areas.
When customers do eventually return to hotels, they should anticipate this to last awhile.The program will likely be around "forever," Phil Cordell, senior vice president and global head of new brand development for Hilton, told USA TODAY.
"The program and what it delivers is kind of a new normal of expectation," Cordell said. He expects it to be guest-ready by June.
Full details are being ironed out, but here's a look at what's in development:An official room seal indicating that a room hasn't been accessed after a deep cleaningThe removal of pen, paper and guest directories in favor of a digital option (or available on request)Extra disinfection for areas like light switches, door handles, TV remotes, thermostats and moreA disinfecting wipe station in high-traffic areas (i.e., so guests can wipe elevator buttons down before pressing)Contactless check-in, where guests can complete check-in and check-out processes via a mobile app and receive a digital room key (Hilton Honors members already have access to digital keys) Electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet light to be used in the sanitization process
Hotel cleaners will be given personal protective equipment and extra training, as well, in conjunction with the new cleanliness effort. Guests should expect housekeeping personnel to be much more visible at hotels, according to Cordell.
"Hilton CleanStay builds on the best practices and protocols we’ve developed over the last several months, allowing our guests to rest easy with us and focus on enjoying the unforgettable experiences we have to offer – while protecting our team members who are on the front lines of hospitality," Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton president and CEO, said in a statement.
Both RB, Lysol's parent company, and Mayo Clinic, will advise the hotel chain on their respective areas of expertise. Mayo Clinic, for example, will advise Hilton staff on cleaning protocols, training programs and quality assurance.
So, when will customers actually be returning to hotels to test all these efforts out?
After all, 1,000 Hilton hotels have suspended operations as of April 14; this amounts to 16% of the chain's properties around the world. An SEC filing indicated a 56% to 58% decline of revenue per available room for March, per a preliminary systemwide first-quarter estimate.
"We feel that mid-summer is a point when people start to just feel more comfortable," Cordell said, regarding business and leisure travel.
And from there, the hotel chain may make tweaks to the protocol. "As customers start to travel a little bit more we're just going to have to be acutely aware and listening to what they're thinking and feeling so we can adjust almost in real time."
Hilton's news follows cleanliness announcements in the hospitality industry from Marriott and Airbnb, as the industry grapples with the coronavirus pandemic's inevitable effects.
Marriott said it will use electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectants to sanitize throughout the hotel. Besides guest rooms, the sprayers will be used in lobbies, gyms and other public areas. It said the cleaning agents used would be those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to kill all known pathogens.
In addition, the company is testing ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing room keys, and adding hand sanitizer stations and signs in the lobby to remind anyone who enters to keep their distance from others. Marriott is also taking a look at what to do at properties that offer buffet service.
As for Airbnb: For hosts, the guidelines will offer recommendations for personal protective gear, like masks and gloves, while cleaning. Rentals will be spaced out by 24 hours for hosts that have opted in to the cleaning protocols, and hosts will have the option of an online feature that automatically prevents bookings less than 72 hours apart for an extra measure of safety.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard
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