It is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives greatly and will also change the way we travel in future.
As we see more and more countries relaxing travel restrictions, hotels are also looking to step up on measures to keep guests safe. These measures also aim to make your stay more comfortable. Here are 6 ways your hotel stays will be different after COVID-19.
1. Increased cleanliness and hygiene standards
You can expect hotel managements to place importance on cleanliness and hygiene after the pandemic. Many major hotel chains around the world like Marriott, Hilton, Best Western and more have stepped up on cleaning protocols. Many of them have also released health and hygiene standards. Among them is the use of better technology to disinfect their premises more frequently and leaving rooms empty for a longer period of time so as to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
Credit: Le Meridien Putrajaya on Facebook
Hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes will also be more common items that you'll see in the public areas or included in personal care amenity kits. You'll also see staff wearing masks and gloves, in addition to more cleaning staff.
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2. Clean certifications might be on the rise
To give you peace of mind when you stay in hotels next time, clean certifications might also be a new trend that you'll see. These are guidelines imposed by tourism boards or hotels themselves to "certify" that hotels are clean to a certain standard. This is useful as you'll be able to enjoy your stay at the hotel safely and confidently without worrying about the virus.
Credit: Grand Hyatt Singapore on Facebook
You can already see this being implemented in Singapore with the SG CLEAN Quality Mark. Hotels which have met the checklist for good sanitation and hygiene practices will be awarded the quality mark which they can display in their premises. In neighbouring Malaysia, authorities have also started the "Clean and Safe Malaysia" campaign so hotels can be certified "clean and safe". Elsewhere in Indonesia and Turkey, clean certification programmes for hotels and restaurants are also underway before they reopen to tourists ?
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3. Increased social distancing rules in hotel lobbies and public spaces
As governments around the world impose social distancing measures in public spaces, hotels will also have to do the same. More hotels are reconfiguring their public areas to adhere to the 6-feet social distancing rules, especially at front desks and elevator lobbies. Some, like Marriott, will also be removing furniture. So, be prepared to see social distancing markers.
Credit: Pulai Springs Resort, Johor Bahru on Facebook
Several hotels in the US have also implemented staggered check-in and check-out times so as to prevent clusters from happening at hotel lobbies. Contactless temperature checks done outside the hotel building could also be the norm and entry points might be limited so the hotel can keep track of who's been in and out of the building. There will also be a limit as to how many people can be inside an elevator.
While these changes may take some time to get used to, the flip side is that you don't have to mingle with large crowds or wait long for your check-in.
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4. Virtual concierges and contactless check-ins
With increased social distancing comes new technology, especially when checking in. In future, you probably won't need to be in direct contact with hotel staff when checking in. More hotels are considering checking in using mobile apps and digital keys. This means that you probably won't need a physical key card to unlock your room as you can use your phone to do that instead ? The Hilton chain is already implementing this and encouraging its guests to check-in digitally.
Credit: Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort on Facebook
Some hotels are also implementing virtual concierges and check-in kiosks. Yes, you've probably seen these kiosks at the airport, and now you might just see them at hotels too.
All these will help to minimise human contact and reduce the common touchpoints between guests so that you'll be able to enjoy your stay safely.
5. No breakfast buffets
One of the most significant changes is that there will be no breakfast buffets ? But the good news is that you can still call for room service and have your meal from the comforts of your hotel room. Or better still, have breakfast in bed ? Some hotels like Four Seasons are already offering smartphone menus where the delivery of food will be contactless. You can also expect your food to be sealed or presented in a way that is more hygienic (eg. bento boxes or packed meals) instead of it being nicely plated.
As for hotels that don't offer room service, you'll most probably still be able to "grab and go" food from hotel restaurants.
That doesn't mean that there won't be a chance to dine at hotel restaurants. If anything, it will be a more exclusive experience. As hotels will want to limit the capacity of guests in restaurants, there will be fewer tables to accommodate social distancing rules. You might even have to book way in advance for a nice table. On a more positive note, you'll most likely enjoy a quiet meal and staff will also be more attentive to you.
6. More personalised services and amenities
With more emphasis on social distancing, you'll most likely be enjoying more personalised services and amenities when it comes to spa sessions and workouts. To minimise human contact, hotels will most likely allow guests to pre-book the gym for specific workout times. This means you'll be able to do your workout in private ?
Spa facilities will also be more exclusive as hotels might make spa sessions limited. Some hotels around the world are considering time blocks or reduced capacity so guests can have the whole sauna to themselves. Others, like luxury chain Mandarin Oriental, are hoping to offer guests personalised services so that they can still relax and unwind in a clean and safe environment.
These measures are definitely a shift from what we're normally used to, and they are probably what we'd have to deal with in months (or even years) to come. But that should not stop us from travelling when the time is right ? We hope these measures will prepare you for your hotel stays in future!