Here’s Marriott’s plan to fight coronavirus at its hotels

Apr 22, 2020

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The world’s largest hotel chain has shared the details of its approach for strengthening the cleanliness standards at its hotels as it prepares for a gradual reopening of many countries in the Western world.

Just yesterday, TPG predicted that hotel chains would have to begin publicly stating what steps they’ll take to combat the spread of the virus at their hotels to assuage the fears of potential guests who are hesitant to return to hotels where hundreds of people stay, and where each room has dozens of touchpoints, like faucets and TV remotes, that could act as spreaders of disease.

(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Related: How hotels can assure cleanliness after coronavirus

Now, Marriott has become the first of the major hotel chains to communicate specific steps it will take to better prepare its hotels to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. It has established the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, which is, according to a company press release, “focused on developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards, norms and behaviours that are designed to minimize risk and enhance safety for consumers and Marriott associates alike”.

Led by Marriott’s Chief Global Officer, Global Operations Ray Bennett, the council includes experts both within the chain and outside of it across the entire industry, including housekeeping, engineering, food safety, occupational health and associate well-being. Mr Bennett says that “Through the council and scientific advice of experts, [Marriott is] taking a thoughtful approach to set an even higher bar of cleanliness and [developing] new guest interaction protocols”.

In addition to establishing this new council to guide and oversee the company’s approach as a whole, individual hotels will take specific actions to combat the spread of the disease.

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As predicted, hotels will lean on technology to help fight back against the spread of germs. Marriott has said that it will use electrostatic sprayers to sanitise various areas of the hotels. These will be used primarily to disinfect larger spaces like guest rooms, lobbies, gyms and other public areas, and use high-grade disinfectants recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to combat known pathogens. Additionally, UV light technology is being tested to disinfect things like room keys and other items that are shared between staff and guests and among staff members.

(Photo courtesy of Marriott)
(Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Marriott’s also going to make changes to several customer-facing aspects of a hotel stay. Guest rooms will see the addition of disinfectant wipes for personal use, and surfaces in rooms and public spaces will be cleaned more often with hospital-grade solutions.

Hotel lobbies will see signage reminding guests to maintain social distancing, and furniture could be rearranged or removed to better comply with CDC and WHO guidelines. The chain is considering the addition of partitions between guests and front-desk agents — and reminding guests that they can check-in on their phones at more than 3,000 properties — as well as working with its partners to supply staff with masks and gloves. And, guests will notice hand sanitisation stations at the entrances, front desks, elevators, gyms and meeting spaces.

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Finally, Marriott’s changing food-safety protocols that include enhancing its sanitation guidelines and changing its guidelines for room service and rethinking buffets. On the in-room dining front, guests will be able to order through the Marriott app and have food delivered in special packaging and without contact.

Bottom line

Marriott recognizes that even if populations are given an all-clear to emerge from lockdown and begin travelling again, it’s going to be a slow return to hotels, given the myriad ways through which this disease can spread.

By establishing a new corporate philosophy toward cleanliness and safety, along with implementing several consumer-facing changes, Marriott has taken the first — and very important — step to convince guests that its hotels will be safe to stay in, even if the experience won’t be “normal” for quite some time.

Featured photo by AFP via Getty Images

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