The Secret of a Successful Hospitality Experience in 2020 — COVID HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR GUESTS
As we all adapt to the events of 2020, the new fact of life is that public health, safety, and disease control is paramount on everyone’s mind. No matter the guest, every booking now comes with an expectation of a clear and concise safety plan and amenities to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
While COVID is an unprecedented challenge, it is also an opportunity for any hosts to attract guests by providing simple and easy to follow information and resources to make guests feel safe during their stay.
Here are a few tips for driving more guests to your listings, keeping everyone’s expectations aligned, and helping guests get the most from their stay.
Marketing with health and safety in mind
Right off the bat, it is important to market your property appropriately to help guests find you and ensure your tactics (and expectations) for COVID prevention are aligned with theirs.
To avoid misinformation on public health and travel advisories related to COVID-19, Airbnb has prohibited hosts from referencing COVID-19, coronavirus, or quarantine in listing titles. In addition, Airbnb hosts may not post content that:
- Encourages guests to ignore applicable health or travel advisories
- Encourages guests to have gatherings that violate health restrictions
- Promises that hosts or listings are not impacted by or exposed to COVID-19
- Includes any health information specific to COVID-19, or links to resources not included in Airbnb’s Coronavirus updates in the Resource Center
- Offers activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Incentivizes bookings through COVID-19-related discounts, stocks of limited resources, or the highlighting of quarantine-friendly listing attributes
But what you can do is highlight exactly how you will make it easy for guests to achieve the goals of their stay. Challenge yourself to provide the best safety procedures, monitoring strategy (i.e. that all safety items are always completed), and amenities in a logical way that makes every step as effortless as possible for the guest. A great goal is to make guests feel confident that their stay will be as safe, clean, and comfortable as their own home.
In your marketing, include words like “clean” and “hygiene” — both keywords have spiked significantly in the past few months — and include any other keywords that help describe your approach to hospitality during COVID. In addition, it’s a great idea to break down your enhanced cleaning routine (especially for high touch areas), cleaning monitoring plan, and even the cleaning products you use to help potential guests feel more comfortable.
Also caution any guests with potential medical conditions, who may be considered a higher risk to check with health care providers and the latest guidance before coming to stay.
In general, showing a common-sense and practical approach to meeting or exceeding your local regulations will prove a winning strategy.
Prepare guests for a confident arrival
It is a great idea to send information to your guests before arrival so they have a clear understanding of your protocols and can arrive relaxed and ready to have fun. An email is a good option today and, coming soon, the House Manual app (https://www.housemanual.app/v1-1) will allow you to privately share all appropriate arrival information to guests via any contact method you choose (SMS, email, WhatsApp etc.).
The beauty of House Manual sharing is that it is a live document so at any time if you make changes, it is instantly updated for everyone who has access. Also, the pictures and maps make finding everything from how to get onto the wifi, to your appliance quirks and everything in-between a breeze for your guests.
Ensure that guests are aware of your physical distancing rules, how you will avoid close contact, if face coverings / personal protective equipment are required, and any other appropriate control measures for arrival. Always, have them refer to the latest local disease control guidance as well incase there changes.
- Canadian resources for COVID-19 can be viewed here
- USA Centers for Disease Control resources for COVID-19 can be viewed here
Craft the Perfect Contactless Check-in Experience
Contactless check-in and check-out, cashless payments and any other ways you can assist guests to maintain physical distancing are key.
Consider removing in-room binders and replacing them with a single sheet summary that can be disposed of, or better yet House Manual posts so guests can view all content on their cell phones.
If you do see the guest in person, avoid direct contact and encourage them to avoid it as well. Instead of handshakes or hugging, choose an alternative no-contact greeting.
Place hand sanitizer dispensers (touchless, where possible) at entrances, near door handles, and around common areas, public spaces, and high contact areas. On-site pools, whirlpools, wading pools, hot tubs, water spray parks, saunas, playgrounds, gym facilities and play areas are subject to guidelines and restrictions from health authorities and public health and signage may be helpful to keep policies fresh in everyone’s mind.
Establish and post-occupancy limits for rooms. Occupancy limits should be established ensuring that a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) can be maintained between attendees and that they have adequate space to move around in the room as required.
Ensure high-touch surfaces within the room, including door handles, light switches, audio/visual equipment, and seating areas are included in cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
And above all else, remember the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain at least 1-metre (or more) distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
- Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
Clean based on best practices
Here are some guidelines to follow when cleaning your space between guests (Source: airbnb.com). If you work with a cleaning professional, instruct them to use this list, too. Also, Airbnb offers an awesome checklist you can view here — https://assets.contentstack.io/v3/assets/bltb428ce5d46f8efd8/bltf8aa41d77b99cf11/5e7a99e6d84c6d2d67079124/English-Cleaning-Checklist_(1).pdf
1. Wear personal protective gear while you clean. Personal protective items like disposable gloves, aprons or gowns, and facial coverings (like homemade or purchased masks) can provide additional protection. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after each cleaning. Use soap and water, and wash for at least 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Learn more about proper hand washing
3. Ventilate rooms before you clean. The CDC recommends opening outside doors and windows and using ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the space before beginning to clean and sanitize. Learn more about how to properly ventilate before cleaning from the CDC.
4. Clean, then sanitize. Use detergent or soap and water to remove dirt, grease, dust, and germs. Once the surface is clean, spray with a disinfectant. Let it stand for a few minutes, then wipe — and if you’re not using paper towels or disposable wipes, it’s best to use a new cleaning cloth for each guest.
5. Avoid touching your face while cleaning. To prevent the spread of germs, the CDC recommends not touching your face, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands — so pay extra attention when cleaning.
6. Use the right disinfectant. Most common household disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as cleaning solutions with diluted household bleach or at least 70% alcohol, are believed to be effective against the coronavirus. Pay special attention to frequently touched surfaces, like light switches, doorknobs, remote controls, and faucet handles.
7. Don’t forget about sofas, rugs, drapes, and other soft, porous surfaces. Carefully remove any visible dirt or grime, then clean with the appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. If possible, machine-wash items according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
8. Wash all linens at the highest heat setting recommended by the manufacturer. That includes bedsheets, mattress covers, hand and bath towels, kitchen towels, and blankets. Remember to wear gloves when handling dirty laundry, and take care to avoid shaking laundry, which could increase the spread of germs.
9. Clean and sanitize laundry baskets and hampers. If possible, consider using a liner that is either disposable or that you can throw into the washing machine.
10. Empty the vacuum cleaner after every cleaning. You should wipe down the vacuum cleaner with disinfectant, along with appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine.
11. While restocking your supplies, take a moment to check expiration dates. And remember to never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning solution that can release toxic gases that are dangerous to inhale.
12. Line trash cans. Placing bags into trash bins will make it easier to dispose of tissues and other waste.
13. Dispose of or wash your cleaning supplies. If you’re using paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and other disposable cleaning supplies, take the trash out after you’re done. If you’re using cleaning cloths and other reusable products, make sure to machine-wash them at the highest heat setting appropriate for the material.
14. Safely remove any cleaning gear. When you’re done cleaning, immediately remove any protective outerwear like gowns, gloves, or masks, and dispose of them or wash accordingly. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds afterwards.
15. Check signage, replace disposable items. Double-check all your signage is still mounted as intended and clearly visible to guests. Replace any disposable paperwork or protective coverings.
16. Monitor and record. Keep a record of all cleaning that is done, what is used, and when it is complete, so you can ensure high standards for every stay.
Great news, cleaning protocols can also be shared with cleaners through House Manuals soon to be released sharing feature. See more at https://www.housemanual.app/v1-1
While it is a challenging and uncertain time, it’s also a boom time for local travel. With the right approach, you can attract new customers and exceed the public health and safety needs of your guests.
To learn more about the tools House Manual offers, please visit housemanual.app or join our newsletter at https://www.housemanual.app/v1-1
Written by James Copeland who flies planes and designed awesome apps for a living (founder of SwiftHarbour.com and HouseManual.app)
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