Updated April 13, 2021.
Last year was the worst on record for the hospitality industry, which isn't expected to fully rebound from the Covid-19 crisis until 2024. But a new heath-security program from Forbes Travel Guide and the digital health company Sharecare aims to accelerate
the industry's recovery and boost hotel bookings by assuring travelers that accredited properties are following the highest safety standards.
More than 580 properties from around the world have already completed the program, and Los Angeles has launched an initiative to get all local hotels with 50 or more rooms accredited — making it the first destination to become Sharecare Verified in the United States. In late March, Los Cabos, Mexico, became the first destination in the world to achieve the designation.
"Los Angeles has been incredibly deliberate and thoughtful in its reopening, and we are grateful for our ongoing partnership with state and local health department officials in developing appropriate protocols to ensure that we can safely and responsibly reopen our local visitor industry," said Adam Burke, president and CEO for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. "Our strategic partnership with Sharecare allows visitors, planners and hospitality employees alike to feel confident in our hotel community's commitment to their health and safety."
To receive the Sharecare Verified with Forbes Travel Guide badge, each hotel must complete a comprehensive assessment about which protocols are in place at the property. The verification process includes more than 360 questions about health and hygiene practices, disinfecting products and
procedures, masks and personal protective equipment, management accountability, health-safety communication with guests and employees, and more. The standards were created using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
as well as input from Sharecare clinicians.
Hundreds of hotels from more than 50 countries have already completed the verification program, including in Canada, Ireland, France, China, Greece and Japan. Accredited resorts in the U.S. include the Wynn Las Vegas, Boston Harbor Hotel, Conrad New York Downtown, and Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The full list of verified hotels can be found here.
Verified with Forbes Travel Guide is designed to complement existing programs such as GBAC Star, which help venues develop proper procedures and protocols for coronavirus cleaning and prevention. The Sharecare and Forbes Travel program uses a mobile-friendly AI chatbot to verify that these health and safety measures
are being implemented at the property. The dashboard can also be used by hotels to track daily employee virus screening results.
Sharecare's Hermann Elger discusses what the new health-security verification badge means for the meetings industry.
Due to the evolving nature of Covid-19 guidelines, properties are required to verify their health protocols on an ongoing basis. Certified hotels can display the Sharecare Verified with Forbes Travel Guide badge online and on-site,
to boost traveler confidence.
"What we've found from the hotels is that once they receive this, the conversation with the client is less about health security, and more about the hotel," said Hermann Elger, executive vice president of travel, entertainment and health security at Sharecare. "Clients really see this as a symbol that they don't need to go into depth and ask a lot of questions about the health protocols because if a client were to ask 10 or 20 questions about a property, this
tool asks 360 questions. And the client might be talking to the reservation or the sales manager, but this tool actually speaks to the operations people who are executing the safety protocols."
In addition to hotels, a growing number of travel
companies have backed the program. Internova Travel Group, for example, has selected Sharecare and Forbes Travel Guide to validate the safety procedures at more than 50,000 hotels booked through
its systems. According to Elger, the program is also useful for destination management companies and event planners, who are making decisions about where to book business and how they can assure travelers that the property is safe to visit.
believe we've got a long way to go in terms of recovery. But I believe that solutions such as this, that focus on getting the travel industry up and running, versus getting individual hotel companies up and running, are critical," said Elger. "The
job we have ahead of us is much bigger than just proving that a hotel company has the right protocols in place. We need to have a common-denominator approach that allows people to feel safe to travel, to feel safe sending their employees to travel
and to feel safe taking their families traveling. We need to also have a way that hotels in general can communicate this information efficiently, so that we can get clients from the 'should I travel' to 'where should I travel' mentality."