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In new normal, hotels to compete on ‘sanitized cleanliness’

Cornell University
4-May-2020 12:05 PM EDT, by Cornell University

As businesses countrywide start to reopen, industries are struggling to come up with safety standards to reassure consumers. Within the hospitality sector, the American Hotel & Lodging Association recently released their recommendations, the Safe Stay initiative, for how hotels can enhance their safety protocols in COVID-19 times.

Kate Walsh, dean of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, is an expert on hospitality management. She says that sanitized cleanliness will be the new differentiator within the industry.


Walsh says: “The hospitality industry is facing an unprecedented time, as it redefines what service means going forward. The key to bringing guests back will be to convey that the hotel is safe and secure, and that guests’ health and well-being are paramount. This means that, as they plan to re-open, hotels must be laser-focused on building consumer-confidence that it is safe to stay at their property. This will become the new brand promise.

“The post-COVID traveler can expect social distancing in the open areas of the hotel, a deeply sanitized room, amenities that include face masks and hand sanitizer, and where possible, accessing the room from a guest’s mobile device. Sanitized cleanliness will be the new differentiator. Hotels have always focused on personalized service and providing a warm, welcoming environment for guests. The challenge for hotels will be to convey the essence of hospitality when we socially distance and disconnect guests from the staff. The entire business model and value proposition will need to be reexamined. However, this is also an opportunity to rethink what service truly means in this new normal.

“How do you work with reduced density? As the hospitality industry plans for its re-opening and return of its staff, one of the biggest issues will be re-training staff on new ways of working, especially to visibly demonstrate to guests that the hotel is being continuously sanitized. Staff are going to be asked to be agile and flexible, and new hospital-grade sanitation technology will be in demand.”

For other angles on the hospitality industry, please consider the experts below:

• Chekitan Dev is professor of marketing and an expert in hospitality branding. His study of the hotel business during the 2008 recession offers useful comparisons to what the industry is experiencing now. • Alex Susskind is professor of food and beverage management and can speak to the strategic thinking needed to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of the coronavirus on the food and beverage industry. • David Sherwyn, professor of hospitality human resources and professor of law, is the director of the Cornell Center for Innovative Hospitality Labor & Employment Relations. Sherwyn can discuss issues of union/management relations at this time of crisis, and other issues that have arisen in the hospitality workforce due to the COVID-19. • Linda Canina, professor of finance and director of Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research, is in day-to-day communications with hospitality leaders in the areas of analytics, operations, performance evaluation, competitive analysis, and valuation, among others.

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