Coronavirus and Meetings
to see Northstar Meetings Group’s comprehensive and continuing coverage of how coronavirus is affecting meetings.
Updated July 21, 2020.
As hotels and resorts begin to reopen domestically and around the globe, new health and safety protocols have been introduced to keep staff members and guests safe. Starting next week, hotel giants Marriott International and Hyatt will require all guests to wear a face mask while indoors.
The new mandate comes just a few days after the American Hotel and Lodging Association released a "Safe Stay Guest Checklist," which encourages all hotels to require face masks in indoor public spaces to help create a standardized safety experience. Hyatt said the rule will apply to meeting spaces, restaurants, bars, fitness centers and other indoor spaces at all of its properties in the U.S. and Canada. Both Hyatt and Marriott plan to roll out the new requirement on July 27.
"As part of our commitment to clean, we made it a brand standard that associates wear masks and set an example. Given the recent spikes across the U.S. and with guidance from health officials, we are now extending the requirement to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces in hotels to our guests, no matter the jurisdiction," said Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson in a video update on July 20. "Please help us do what we can to beat COVID-19. These are all easy steps we can take to support one another and the communities we love, whether we live there, work there or are visiting."
New Protocols for Meetings
Hilton, Wyndham and many others are extending the enhanced hygiene practices and protocols they have developed to facilitate meetings in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. Cvent, meanwhile, has aggregated these programs to make them easily accessible at the time of sourcing.
Hilton released the details of its EventReady with CleanStay program this week, a meetings-specific initiative that builds on the CleanStay hotel program it began rolling out in mid-June. CleanStay, which was created in collaboration with Lysol maker RB and the Mayo Clinic, should be implemented across
the hospitality company's 18 brands shortly. The RB/Lysol
partnership, originally announced for North American hotels, has
been expanded to include Hilton's global portfolio and additional RB
cleaning and disinfecting products available internationally.
The new EventReady With CleanStay program is both a cleanliness and customer-service initiative that is built on three key tenets:
- Cleanliness protocols. EventReady builds on the protocols outlined in CleanStay by addressing every touch point of the meeting experience. High-touch areas have been identified, sanitizing stations have been added to meeting rooms and, as with the Hilton guest rooms, a room-seal ribbon will be placed on meeting rooms after they have been readied for the event.
- Added flexibility. Hilton is promising flexible pricing, space options and contract terms, as well as offers tailored to customer needs — such as simplified agreements for small meetings. The company is also providing expert guidance via the new Hilton EventReady Playbook, which contains resources for appropriate meeting solutions, like hybrid meetings, and space-specific suggestions for rooms sets and networking ideas. "And best of all, this is a living document," underscored Danny Hughes, Hilton's president of the Americas region. "We are very cognizant of the fact that things are going to change. This is not a 'one-and-done' set of guidelines."
- Safe and socially responsible solutions. Hilton team members will collaborate with planners to achieve meeting objectives while addressing health and environmental concerns specific to their location. Efforts will include things like physical-distancing meeting sets and meal service, as well as socially responsible food-and-beverage menus. Environmental impact will be measured by LightStay, Hilton's corporate-responsibility metrics measurement platform.
"The new program is completely driven by the consumer," noted Hughes. "From day one we've been talking to meeting planners, whether they be third-party planners, corporate planners, sports teams, people who plan family gatherings, and we asked them, 'Once you're willing to travel and gather, what will be important to you?' And everything we've designed is a result of that discussion."
Wyndham, too, has expanded its cleanliness program to include meetings guidelines. The Count on Us initiative, which was launched in early June and bases protocols on AHLA's Safe Stay guidelines, now covers five key areas of the meetings experience: revised layouts and reduced capacity, new signage, more frequent cleanings, modified food-and-beverage service based on regulations and local guidelines, and the flexibility to accommodate outdoor and/or hybrid events.
That flexibility also applies across the planning process, added Carol Lynch, senior vice president of sales for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. "We understand and we're seeing it every day how important flexibility is to planners," she said. "They need more short-term situations with less risk, and we're working very closely with them on things like cancellation terms, even attrition. And we're incorporating checkpoints into the process, where we check in on the current status as the meeting date approaches, allowing them to plan farther out."
In a similar vein, the global hotel company Accor recently rolled out its 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
meetings-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 groups can meet safely again. Until those industry standards are more firmly established, hotel-company transparency — and public trust that the new protocols are being enforced — will have to suffice.
Meanwhile, meetings-technology giant Cvent has compiled information on a wide range of initiatives launched by its hotel, facility and destination partners, allowing planners to consult terms within the Cvent Supplier Network before they start their search. The new Source Safely microsite offers a curated collection of safety practices and guidelines, representing more than 31,000 properties internationally.
As a resource, we've provided here links to a wide variety hotel
cleanliness initiatives. Following the list you can read our summary of
what some of the biggest players — and earliest adopters — have
announced, dating back to the mid-April plans provided by Wynn Resorts and Marriott International.
Hotel Safety and Hygiene Protocols
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.
The Hilton CleanStay initiative, which will roll out June 15, represents a collaboration with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, with consultation from Mayo Clinic's Infection Prevention and Control team to improve all cleaning and disinfection protocols.
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.
"As the hospitality industry evolves to address travelers’ changing
expectations – especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic –
Hilton CleanStay is the latest evolution of our commitment to providing
the peace of mind and confidence our guests need to travel freely, while
protecting our team members,” said Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta.
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 the use of the company's
products. As for the medical expertise, this isn't the first
collaboration between Hilton and the Mayo Clinic. Company founder Conrad
Hilton became a patient at Mayo 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. The Mayo Clinic will now
advise the company on cleaning protocols, training programs and quality
The tenets of CleanStay, representing the entire guest experience, include the following.
- Online: Before traveling, guests can find details about what to expect at the CleanStay landing page. Property websites will also have updates about protocols and changes to expect.
An entirely contactless arrival will be available to those who want
one, via the HiltonHonors mobile app. Guests can use the free app to
check in, choose a room, unlock their room door with Digital Key and
check out. The option is currently available at more than 4,700
properties worldwide. For traditional check-in, physical-distancing
measures will be in place.
- Guest room: A
CleanStay room seal will be placed on the door after the room has been
thoroughly cleaned, so guests know on arrival that no one else has
entered the room since that time. High-touch areas such as light
switches, door handles, TV remotes, thermostats and more will be more
thoroughly disinfected. Items like pens and paper will be removed, and
disinfecting wipes will be provided in every room.
- Housekeeping: Service
during a stay will be based on guest preference, depending on whether
they want cleaning staff to enter their room. Additional amenities such
as linens and toiletries will be available upon request, and will be delivered
in protective packaging and left at the door.
- Public spaces.
Public-area cleaning frequency will be increased. Fitness centers might be closed for cleaning multiple times daily, and equipment therein will
be arranged according to distancing measures, with stricter
guest-capacity measures in place. The pool and pool areas likewise will be frequently cleaned throughout the day, with distancing measures in
place. Hand-sanitizing stations and wipes will be available throughout
- Food and beverage: In
restaurants, tables and chairs will be spaced to ensure proper
distancing, and biodegradable, disposable dishes and utensils
will be available upon request. Breakfast options will include
grab-and-go, preplated covered items. Room service, where provided,
will entail contactless delivery and single-use serviceware.
- Meetings and events: The Hilton EventReady with CleanStay program will focus on cleanliness,
flexibility, and safe and socially responsible solutions, as well as
creative food and beverage, new technology and sustainable practices.
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.
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.
Kempinski White Glove Services
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.
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."
Langham 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
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Airbnb Enhanced Cleaning Initiative
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.