Right now, nearly eight in 10 hotel rooms sit empty across the U.S. But when travel resumes, America’s top hospitality brands, including Hilton, Marriott and Airbnb, are making sure consumers know that rooms will be cleaner than ever.
Today, Hilton announced a partnership with Reckitt Benckiser, manufacturer of the in-demand disinfectant Lysol, for a new initiative called Hilton CleanStay with Lysol Protection. The brands’ partnership is set for multiple years, although Hilton wouldn’t disclose how long.
Beyond tying the two brands together visually, Hilton CleanStay will presumably see the hotel chain purchasing Lysol products for its more than 6,000 properties. The hotel brand will also be “rewriting its cleaning protocols” with help from the Mayo Clinic.
Last week, Marriott, the world’s largest hotel brand with more than 7,300 properties across the globe, announced that it would be launching the Global Cleanliness Council, a platform it hopes will elevate its own hygiene standards.
Marriott’s council will include professors who study food microbiology, tourism and hospitality, and experts in hygiene and infection prevention, as well as the brand’s chief global officer Ray Bennett.
“We are living in a new age, with Covid-19 front and center for our guests and our associates,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s president and CEO, in a statement. “We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority.”
Both brands are using lofty terminology to describe their respective initiatives: Hilton is calling its program “industry-defining,” while Marriott claims to be “developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness.”
Not to be counted out, Airbnb also announced today that it was bringing on former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy to help develop new cleaning protocols for its hosts, including a learning certification program. There will also be a 24-hour waiting period between guests to address the possibility of “particles that may remain airborne.”
Hosts unable to commit to cleaning protocols, including wearing gloves and masks, may instead opt for a 72-hour timeframe, dubbed the “booking buffer.”
According to market research consultancy Magid, only 42% of consumers trust hotels to take the necessary steps to ensure their health and safety. Granted, that’s still more than other travel sectors, with airlines polling at 40% and cruise ships at 32%.
“The hotels are trying to say, ‘We were always clean, but in the face of the coronavirus, we’re enhancing our procedures for your safety,'” said Chuck Kelley, a hospitality consultant who spent more than 30 years with Marriott. “It’s about changing messaging. You’re not going to drive to a hotel unless you feel like a hotel is safe.”
Even though Covid-19 has no timeline, Hilton’s initiative is scheduled to launch in June. Marriott said it would begin rolling out “enhanced technologies” in the next few months.