By John Welty, president, SUITELIFE Underwriting Managers
It may still be some time before the world gets back to business as usual. The pandemic has changed the ways we work, shop, socialize and more. Though we are seeing headlines of a new vaccine that could protect individuals from the spread of COVID-19, mass inoculations are likely still months away. Until then, we’ll have to continue doing what we’ve been doing as individuals and as hospitality industry professionals to keep business moving while working to curb the spread of the virus.
Fortunately, we know more now than we did back in March. We know more now about how the disease spreads. We know mask wearing, social distancing and frequent sanitizing are key to keeping this virus at bay. After the government shutdowns left our industry a near ghost town for months, individuals, business travelers and families are slowly returning to travel. And, as we come closer to a vaccine and we educate travelers on our COVID-19-related safety protocols, we can hope that things will continue to pick up. After the crises being faced around the world subsides, consumers will be eager to get away and book a vacation, and businesses will likely be ready to get their teams back on the road.
So, what can California hoteliers do to prepare for the eventual return of guests and visitors?
Understanding the Rules
Every hotel’s journey toward moving ahead with business should include implementing an infection control and blood borne pathogen program as part of their safety plan. While many hotels have prepared guidance for communicable diseases like Legionnaires’ Disease and streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat), providing guidance on a communicable disease of the scale of COVID-19 is new territory. California hotel owners and operators should look to guidance from industry associations, such as CHLA, and government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and State of California to ensure they design an effective and comprehensive policy. Then, in addition to implementing such a plan, hotel management should ensure employees are properly trained according to the plan and abide by its guidance.
Boosting Guest Confidence
Although this guidance is invaluable to hotels trying to operate in this new and changing environment, how a hotel implements its safety plans will be key to moving forward successfully.
One of the best ways a hotel can ensure its safety plan is operating effectively is through regular staff trainings and audits. Regular trainings can help staff remain mindful of these issues. Audits help ensure they know how to put the ideas into action. Implementing audits can assist in finding flaws in safety or cleaning protocols. Conducted by a safety leader, supervisor or third party, these audits can focus on front-house safety, kitchen safety, housekeeping safety and more. An audit can also focus on more specific tasks such as whether or not temperatures are regularly taken and social distancing rules are enforced.
Finally, guests will take comfort in a hotel’s COVID-19 protocols if they know they have strong procedures in place and are making an effort to keep them safe. Hotel owners and operators might consider sharing some of their pandemic-related protocols with guests.
These next several months will continue to bring challenges, but with the right plans in place, training, information sharing and positive outlook, the industry can move forward, safely enhancing the guest experience and building back profitability along the way.
John Welty is president for SUITELIFESUITELIFE Underwriting Managers is a series of RSG Underwriting Managers, LLC. RSG Underwriting Managers is a Delaware Series limited liability company and a subsidiary of Ryan Specialty Group, LLC, specializing in underwriting management and other services for insurance products distributed through agents and brokers. Some products may not be available in all states or may be available only from surplus lines insurers. In California: RSG Insurance Services, LLC License #0E50879. © 2020 Ryan Specialty Group, LLC.