Surge in Hotel Bookings this Fall comes with Risks

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that being inside with lots of people is an easy way for viruses to spread. Hotels should take note of this, since according to the latest data from Tripadvisor, this fall is supposed to be the busiest season for hotels all across the country. And since fall is a chilly season in many places in the U.S., that means guests stay inside more, sit on lobby sofas, work from laptops, and hold meetings in the conference rooms.

All this gathering and grouping comes with obvious risks. Compounding concerns about COVID-19 is the additional chance of guests catching the flu, which increases in the fall.  Both viruses thrive in places with shared spaces and high touch areas.

To keep guests and staff safe from catching and spreading viruses and other germs here are some “best practices” to keep in mind this fall:  

  • Make staff aware of high touch areas such as door handles and locks, light switches, TV remotes and elevator buttons.
  • Keep hotel “housekeeping” areas stocked with sanitizers and appropriate cleaning supplies.
  • Establish a certification process with regulators. This might mean hiring or training existing managers to update staff on all relevant CDC requirements and regulations. With a certificate from the CDC a hotel can market to guests who are only interested in staying at lodgings that follow health regulations. This tends to attract guests who are responsible, making it safer for all involved.   
  • Have hotel guests use electronic kiosks and mobile apps to book and manage their stay. Since 2020 many hotels adopted digital ways for guests to check in lieu of in-person interactions. Mobile apps allow guests to manage their hotel experience independent of hotel staff and thereby reduce the risk of spreading viruses.
  • Remind staff and guests alike to wash hands/keep hands clean to avoid the spread of germs. Make hand sanitizer accessible at the hotel check-out/check-in and any help station.
  • Have hotel staff meet to prepare for flu season. Train staff at meeting how to tactfully communicate and suggest to guests’ good hygiene practices to prevent a flu outbreak.

In addition to hotel staff, it’s important for guests to be knowledgeable and prepare for the flu season. Guests can take the pressure off hotel workers by being mindful of the ways they can prevent the spread of contagion. Here are few things hotel guests can do:

  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands, always carry hand sanitizer and/or antibacterial wipes. The wipes can also be used to wipe down high touch areas, like doorknobs and toilet handles when you first check into your room. Also, ask when other guests or cleaning staff were last in your room.
  • If your hotel room has a kitchen wash all utensils, plates or glassware with hot water and soap.
  • Open windows and doors, make use of accessible window fans and any operating ventilation systems.
  • Manage your recreational spaces. Keep visits to shared spaces like hotel workout rooms and hot tub areas to a minimum or consider foregoing altogether during flu season. Also, consider keeping hotel dining to a minimum or ordering room service instead.

Hotels are becoming more welcoming spaces every day as the vaccination rate increases and better measures are in place to keep guests safe. However, since hotel bookings are expected to rise this fall, these extra measures can go a long way in preventing further virus outbreaks.