Coronavirus and Meetings
to see Northstar Meetings Group’s comprehensive and continuing coverage of how coronavirus is affecting meetings.
Updated May 29, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. EDT. A growing number of hospitality entities have developed and enhanced their hygiene practices and protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a resource, we've provided here links to a wide variety of hotel
As hotels across the country and around the globe begin to reopen in phases, hospitality companies that have laid out their enhanced cleanliness and safety protocols are hoping to reassure future guests and their own employees that procedures are in place that make the health and safety of everyone on site a priority, now more than ever.
They are also laying the groundwork for meeting-specific protocols, which will become more pertinent as restrictions on gathering are relaxed. The global hotel company Accor, for instance, has just rolled out the ALL Meet Well protocol, to complement the ALL Stay Well framework that was already in place. The latest guidelines deal specifically with the attendee journey, and 20 typical touch points experienced by a meeting participant in the hotel setting. The first point in Accor's plan — the guest room block — refers to flexible cancellation policies for all meeting-related room reservations that occur in 2020.
Within the meetings and travel industry, organizations and collaborative task forces are attempting to standardize best practices or even offer certifications so that we can meet safely again. Until those industry standards are more firmly established, however, hotel-company transparency — and public trust that the new protocols are being enforced — will have to suffice.
Following the list you can read our summary of
what some of the biggest players — and earliest adopters — have
announced, beginning in mid-April with Wynn Resorts and Marriott International.
Hotel Safety and Hygiene Protocols
Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol
Radisson Hotel Group has partnered with
inspection services firm SGS for its new Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol program of cleanliness and disinfection procedures. The hospitality firm
plans to introduce an official safety label, issued by SGS, that individual
Radisson hotels can earn upon meeting the inspection company's standards.
The company is currently extending its brand cleanliness guidelines, which include a 20-step hygiene protocol and an additional 10-step
protocol for meetings and events. The company expects to complete all
the necessary operational details of this program in late spring 2020. Measures under consideration include:
- Increased cleaning and disinfection frequency of all hotel areas, including high-touch items
- Stations with alcohol-based hand sanitizer and gloves placed at the front entrance and hotel public areas
- Disinfection of room keys
- Express check-out to minimize contact between guests and staff
- Cash-free payment methods
- Door hangers detailing cleaning and disinfection procedures displayed in each room
- Comprehensive hygiene and prevention training programs for team members
- Personal protective equipment (masks and gloves) for all team members
“The world has been
fundamentally changed by COVID-19, so it is key that we strive to protect
all who work, stay and partner with us as we re-open our doors to a new
era of travel. To do this we have thoroughly examined all areas of the
hotel experience, and we are proud to have partnered with SGS to create
our Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol program.” says Federico J.
González, CEO, Radisson Hospitality AB and chairman of Radisson Hotel
Group’s global steering committee.
In a statement posted on its corporate website, IHG Hotels & Resorts is “closely monitoring developments around the world and are in contact with global organizations including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and relevant authorities for country-specific requirements, to ensure the actions we take are comprehensive and suitable.”
The company requires all of its properties to adhere to comprehensive health and safety procedures, including all local laws. In addition, hotels have been given best practices and guidelines, which have been supplemented with additional COVID-19 cleanliness-specific guidance, training and information consistent with IHG standards.
Among the hospitality company’s specific recommendations are:
- Activation of response teams to provide around-the-clock assistance to our hotels.
- Hotels have increased the frequency of cleaning public areas (including lobbies, elevators, door handles, public bathrooms) and high-touch points in guest rooms.
- All hotels have been advised on cleaning products and protocols which are effective against viruses.
- IHG continues to review food and beverage service in accordance with current food safety recommendations.
All Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has intensified its safety and hygiene protocols in accordance with guidelines set by the respective government and health authorities where their properties are located.
Among Rosewood’s enhanced measures are:
- Public and common areas will undergo hourly deep cleaning and disinfection.
- Surgical masks and hand sanitizers will be provided to all guests and associates
- All guests and associates will be subject to mandatory, frequent temperature checks
- All contractors and other third parties who visit properties must sign health declarations
- Air filters and air-conditioning systems will be cleaned regularly.
- All associates will be briefed on enhanced personal hygiene.
- Hydrotherapy areas in spas, including steam, sauna and vitality pools will be closed.
Hyatt Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment
Hyatt Hotels Corp. has announced a formal Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment “to further enhance its operational guidance and resources around colleague and guest safety and peace of mind.”
The multi-layered program, set to launch in May, builds on Hyatt’s existing protocols and includes an accreditation process by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, for its hotels around the world. The accreditation, GBAC STAR, is a performance-based cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention program to ensure hotel environments are sanitary, safe and healthy. Hyatt is the first hospitality brand to announce plans to commit to GBAC STAR accreditation, which will include detailed training at more than 900 Hyatt hotels worldwide. The hospitality giant intends to complement this with regular internal and third-party auditing.
Other aspects of Hyatt’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment include colleague training and support resources, and the formation of an advisory group of medical experts and industry professionals. By September 2020, every Hyatt hotel will have at least one person on property trained as a hygiene manager who will be responsible for their hotel adhering to new operational guidance and protocols.
The advisory group Hyatt has assembled to support efforts with COVID-19 research findings and information include Daniel Lucey, M.D., M.P.H., Infectious Diseases professor, Georgetown University Medical Center; fellow, Infectious Disease Society of America; Charles Yarborough, M.D., M.P.H., preventive/occupational medicine expert; affiliated with Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Elaine Black, Ph.D., food science and microbiology, Ecolab.
“The world as we knew it has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19 and when we are all ready to travel again, we want to make sure that every Hyatt colleague and guest feels confident that each aspect of our commitment is designed with their safety in mind, and that we’re putting their well-being first,” said Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt's president and CEO.
Kempinski White Glove Services
Kempinski Hotels' new protocols, Kempinski White Glove Services initiative, outlined in a 50-page booklet, details all measures to be taken at Kempinski properties, including the set-up of public areas, food & beverage, and meeting spaces. Other steps include the following:
- Guest rooms will be outfitted with hand sanitizers and guest masks.
- Furniture in public areas will be rearranged to keep social distancing rules.
- Sanitizing stations will be spread throughout each hotel.
- Key cards will be disinfected before and after usage
Additionally, guests can choose to not to allow any hotel team member to enter their room during their stay.
“It is crucial to us to continue delivering service on the highest level true to our Kempinski heritage as this is what we stand for,” said Benedikt Jaschke, chief quality officer and member of the Kempinski management board. “The list of measures to be taken is long and very complex, but appropriate and strictest hygienic standards on a very high level are key to reassuring our valued guests that a stay at any Kempinski hotel worldwide during or post-coronavirus lockdown offers an environment of full safety in any respect without sacrificing our high standards of professional luxury service.”
AHLA Safe Stay
The American Hotel & Lodging Association has convened an industry-wide council to develop cleaning standards. AHLA's Safe Stay initiative will be focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions and workplace protocols, all as they pertain to thwarting the spread of the COVID-19 virus and reassuring travelers and hotel employees that the spaces safe.
"Every hotel guest and employee should know that their health and safety
are our top priority," noted Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.
"Safe Stay represents a new level of focus for an industry already built
on cleanliness. Hotels have always had rigorous standards for cleaning
and safety; with Safe Stay we are enhancing these standards to help
create peace of mind. When travel resumes, hotels will be ready to
safely welcome back the traveling public."
The association has convened the Stay Safe Advisory Council, consisting of representatives from 17 of the world's largest hospitality companies: Accor, Aimbridge Hospitality, Best Western, Choice, G6 Hospitality, Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corp., InterContinental Hotels Group, Lowes, Marriott International, My Place Hotels, Noble Investment Group, Omni, Radisson Hotel Group, Red Lion, Red Roof and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
Those hotel-industry leaders will work together with public health experts, scientists, and medical leaders to develop best practices, particularly with respect to:
- Enhanced cleaning standards throughout the hotels
- The use of cleaning products that meet CDC guidelines
- Social-distancing measures
- Transparency about all the processes in place
When complete, the guidelines will be publicly accessible at ahla.com/safestay.
Meanwhile, Hilton is the latest major hotel company to announce its own global cleanliness initiative — and a sponsored one at that. The new Hilton CleanStay initiative, expected to roll out in June, will be known as "Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection" in North America. The hotel giant is collaborating with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, as well as consulting with Mayo Clinic's Infection Prevention and Control team to improve all cleaning and disinfection protocols. The RB partnership may eventually be expanded globally, according to Hilton.
While the hotel company already is using hospital-grade cleaning products and upgraded protocols across all of its brands, the CleanStay initiative is meant to make the processes visible and offer peace of mind, according to Hilton.
"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," explained Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta, "while protecting our team members who are on the front lines of hospitality."
Hilton and RB have entered into a multiyear partnership agreement that will tap hygiene and disinfection experts from Lysol for consultation, training and education, and involve use of the company's products. As for the medical expertise, this isn't the first collaboration between Hilton and Mayo Clinic. Company founder Conrad Hilton became a patient at Mayo Clinic late in life, and in 1972 donated $10 million to help launch the Conrad N. Hilton Medical Laboratory and Research Center in Human Behavior — the first building in the Rochester, Minn. complex designed for laboratory medicine. Mayo Clinic will now advise the company on cleaning protocols, training programs and quality assurance.
Among the standards under consideration for CleanStay are:
- Hilton CleanStay room seal. A room seal could be placed on doors to indicate that the room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned.
- 10 defined high-touch, deep-clean areas. Extra disinfection measures would be applied to the most frequently touched guest-room locations, among them light switches, door handles, TV remotes and thermostats.
- Reduction of paper-based amenities. Guest room pens, paper and guest directories may be removed and replaced with digital substitutes.
- Fitness-center focus. Fitness centers might be closed multiple times each day for cleaning, and a limit on the number of guests may be imposed.
- More frequent cleanings. Public-area cleaning frequency would be increased.
- Disinfecting-wipe stations. Guests would be able to access wipes to clean elevator buttons, for instance, if desired.
- Contactless check-in. Hilton's Digital Key technology will be expanded, whereby guests can use the Hilton Honors mobile app to check in, select a room and access the room with a digital key. The capabilities will be expanded to more common doors and access points as well.
- New disinfection technologies. Hilton is investigating the use of new technology, such as electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet light, to sanitize surfaces and objects.
Marriott Global Cleanliness Council
Hospitality giant Marriott International recently announced its multipronged platform to elevate cleanliness standards, behaviors and processes to meet the health and safety challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of that effort, the company has created a Global Cleanliness Council to focus on developing the next level of standards to minimize risk and enhance safety for everyone on site.
"We are living in a new age, with COVID-19 front and center for our guests and our associates," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International president and CEO. "We are grateful for the trust our guests have shown us through the years. We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing, so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority. It’s equally important to us that our associates know the changes we are making to help safeguard their health as they serve our guests."
The new Global Cleanliness Council is chaired by Ray Bennett, chief global officer of global operations for Marriott International, and consists of both in-house and outside experts in areas such as housekeeping, engineering, food safety, occupational health and workplace wellbeing. Among the advisory members are Dr. Ruth Petran, senior corporate scientist of food safety and public health for Ecolab, a global provider of solutions and services with respect to water, hygiene and infection prevention; Dr. Michael A. Sauri, infectious disease specialist at Adventist Healthcare; Dr. Richard Ghiselli, head of the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Purdue University; and Dr. Randy Worobo, professor of food microbiology in the department of food science at Cornell University.
"Marriott has a long tradition of emphasizing cleanliness in our care of guest rooms and in the public spaces of our hotels," said Bennett. "Through the council and scientific advice of experts, we are taking a thoughtful approach to setting an even higher bar of cleanliness and developing new guest interaction protocols." The goals of the council, Bennett added, go beyond hotel disinfection, towards a more holistic approach to care and well-being for both guests and hotel associates.
As part of the approach, Marriott will be rolling out new technologies over the next few months to counter virus spread. Among them: electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotels. According to the company, electrostatic-spraying technology uses the highest classification of disinfectants that are recommended by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. The sprayers can clean rapidly and would be used in guest rooms, lobbies, gyms and other public areas.
Marriott is also testing ultraviolet-light technology as a way to sanitize keys and shared devices.
Specific Protocol Enhancements
Among Marriott's priorities in developing new cleaning standards, the company will focus on three facets of the facilities and guest experience:
- Surfaces in public areas and guest rooms are now required to be cleaned thoroughly with hospital-grade disinfectants.
- Public-area surfaces will be cleaned with increased frequency.
- Disinfecting wipes will be placed in each guest room.
- Signs will be placed in lobbies to remind guests of social distancing protocols.
- Furniture in public areas will be either removed or rearranged to allow more space.
- Marriott is evaluating the addition of partitions at front desks.
- Masks and gloves will be made available to all hotel associates.
- More hand-sanitizing stations will be installed at hotel entrances and near the front desks, elevator banks and fitness and meeting spaces.
- The more than 3,200 hotels that offer mobile arrivals will allow guests to use their own devices to check in, access their rooms, make special requests, and order meals that will be packaged and delivered to the room without contact.
- The updated food-safety program features enhanced sanitation guidelines and training videos for all operational associates, including hygiene and disinfecting practices.
- F&B operations are required to conduct self-inspection using Marriott food-safety standards as guidelines.
- Compliance is validated using independent audits.
- Practices for room service are being modified
- Marriott is designing new approaches to buffets.
Wynn's Ambitious Plan
Marriott is the world's largest hospitality company, but it isn't the first to publicize a plan for new protocols. Wynn Las Vegas has released a 23-page Health and Sanitation Program with guidelines for reopening and operating in a responsible manner. The program lays out a proposal to slowly reopen parts of the Las Vegas economy in early May, with the goal of a gradual Strip reopening in mid- to late-May if safety benchmarks are being met.
The Wynn plan for its own properties outlines the number-one priority of employee and guest health, highlighting a number of specifics such as:
- Thermal cameras. Points of entry will be limited so security teams can use thermal cameras to conduct noninvasive temperature checks of people entering the premises. Anyone with a temperature exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit will be taken to a private area for secondary screening. Anyone with a confirmed temperature more than 100 degrees will be denied entry and directed toward appropriate medical care.
- Physical distancing. People will be advised to stand at least six feet away from others not traveling with them, while waiting in line, using elevators and throughout the property. Restaurant tables, slot machines and other layouts will be rearranged to ensure appropriate distancing.
- Hand sanitizer. Dispensers — touchless whenever possible — will be placed at key guest and employee entrances, and other contact areas throughout the facilities.
- Front-of-house signage. Health and hygiene reminders will be placed throughout, including the proper way to wear, handle and dispose of masks. Table-game electronic signs will also be used for messaging and communication.
- Back-of-house signage. All employees will be reminded of proper mask protocol and hygiene measures, as well.
- Employee and guest health concerns. All employees have clear instructions on how to respond swiftly to any presumed cases of COVID-19 on property and report them to the Southern Nevada Health District. They have also been instructed to report any symptomatic coworker or guests to a manager.
The Wynn report goes on to provide detailed guidelines around the entire guest journey, and the cleaning and operations protocol throughout the hotel, restaurants and casino.
Wynn, which closed its properties in mid-March, is paying all of its 15,000 full- and part-time employees through May 15th, including an estimate for tips they could have earned during the closure. That move is costing the company $3 million per day, or $180 million for the full 60 days following the closure.
Langham's Protocol Expansion
At the 22 upscale properties in the Langham Hospitality Group portfolio, stringent cleaning and sanitizing practices — similar to those outlined in Marriott International's new protocols — have been in place since the SARS epidemic of 2003.
The Hong Kong-based company has upped precautions for the current pandemic: All guests will be asked to fill out a declaration form detailing their recent travels; and every guest, employee, vendor and delivery person will have their temperatures taken before they enter a hotel.
Further safety measures outlined this month by LHG include:
- Frequent disinfection of all high-touch areas such as door handles, elevator buttons, hand rails, telephones and remote controls
- Sterilization of all chinaware, glassware and cutlery using high temperature washing equipment
- Execution of additional cleaning protocols in all rooms and suites prior to and after each guest’s stay
- Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers placed in elevator areas in the
lobby and hand sanitizer bottles at host stations at the restaurants and
bars, bell counter, reception and concierge.
“Based on the expert advice of the World Health Organization, local governments, public health authorities and medical professionals, our hotels will continue to implement stringent measures against the spread of COVID-19,” says Stefan Leser, CEO of the LHG.
Meanwhile, Airbnb has rolled out a program for its hosts as well, the Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, to provide reassurance that the alternative-lodging platform is likewise placing a priority on guest and host health and safety.