Cleanliness has always been the number one factor in hospitality. Prior to COVID, 78% of guests rated cleanliness as the deciding factor when choosing accommodations. 37% of guests even did some additional cleaning after checking in, which shows they didn’t trust it had been cleaned enough. Since coronavirus, safety concerns have reached another level with an explosion of articles detailing how travelers can clean their own rooms. All of this points to the fact that hospitality needs to do more to earn travelers’ confidence in cleanliness. The industry now has to prove itself and provide the digital receipts (or digital trace, in this case).
The main key to trust is transparency. However, transparency is a huge departure from the ideal in the hospitality industry. Normally, hotels strive to make their cleaning services as unobtrusive and discreet as possible. Housekeepers should essentially be invisible. So the question is: How to pull back the curtain to reveal all the work that housekeepers do, without compromising guests’ overall experience?
Learn From the Airline Industry’s Mistakes
Hospitality’s current situation is one that the airline industry tackled more than a decade ago. After 2001, security and safety were first and foremost on people’s minds. In response, the Transportation and Security Agency (TSA) and elaborate protocols were created (such as taking off your shoes and throwing away liquids). It successfully made people feel safer, but it was overwhelmingly ineffective and did little to increase travelers’ safety at all.
Since its introduction, the TSA has failed to flag mock threats 70% to 95% of the time. The situation was so bad that privacy specialist Bruce Schneier coined the term “security theater” to describe how it was a performance to give the public a sense of security rather than an effective deterrent to actual threats.
The hospitality industry should take away three important lessons from this historical example. First, that “theatrical” measures can make travelers feel safer, which is good. Second, that those measures should simultaneously yield safety results which are actually effective (something the airline industry failed to do). And lastly, clearly demonstrate to travelers what measures you are taking and their effectiveness to create a sense of trust and confidence in your cleanliness.
Clearly Show What Your Property Is Doing
Many accommodations are trying to reassure guests, but they could be doing more. They are offering guests the guarantee of “more rigorous regulations” and “improved safety measures”. But these are still vague. Instead, show guests what those actually mean. Remember, we want to avoid ‘security theater’ and give people the real deal. And while that might seem like extra effort for the property, it’s actually just displaying what your staff already do. When all of the housekeepers’ activities are already digitally recorded and logged, the information can be displayed not only to management but to guests as well.
Prove It With a Real-Time Digital Trace
Create a digital trace of all your staff’s actions through digital housekeeping checklists, real-time status updates, and housekeeper scheduling. Staff members can comment, accept, and respond to tasks digitally which creates a clear demonstration of how the work flows in your property. And more importantly, that it is being done.
Don’t be afraid to dig into the details. Instead of simply stating “Here are 10 high touch points housekeepers are disinfecting”, provide guests with a digital trace that clearly shows them when each of the 10 steps was done in their rooms. The method of how you’d like to display the information to guests is up to you. Whether it be screens in your lobby that show ongoing activities, notifications to guests’ phones that their room has been cleaned or real-time updates on the status of their room service.
Invite guests to view behind the scenes to reassure them like never before that cleanliness is priority number one. If you have all the right procedures and technology in place, it only takes a single step to display it. In this new world, guests’ confidence in your cleanliness could be the deciding factor between a full or empty property.