A Focus on Cleanliness in the Wake of COVID-19
A Focus on Cleanliness in the Wake of COVID-19
More and more attention is now being paid towards life after coronavirus. The term ‘new normal’ started out as a cautious warning but has now evolved into an accepted state, one into which we’ll all soon emerge. The world has been fundamentally changed forever by the spread of COVID-19 and businesses all over it are adapting, especially those that belong to the hospitality industry.
Cleanliness, health and safety have always been important to businesses that exist in this industry, perhaps more than any other sector. That’s because by not adhering to strict policies; companies run the risk of their guests and staff becoming ill or getting injured. There has always been a greater margin of error, and therefore a higher level of importance placed on such measures.
This is particularly true when applied to food preparation, something nearly all restaurants and hotels provide as an essential service. Falling foul of the expected standards can also have financial and legal implications for businesses who may have failed to take them seriously. But in a post-COVID-19 world, hygiene expectations will now be higher than ever.
They need to be, especially if hospitality companies are going to win back customer confidence and be safe places for guests to visit. An industry that has always placed an unrivalled degree of importance on cleanliness will now need to go above and beyond its own exceptional standards. That is if the businesses within it want to survive in an era that’s been classified as the ‘new normal’.
How Is the Industry Adapting?
As our regular readers may have seen from recent entries in our Hospitality Highlights; companies across the world are implementing new initiatives geared around health, hygiene and cleanliness. The purpose of each of these is twofold; first, it’s to be seen doing it from a public relations point of view. The initiative will then be widely reported and ease customer concerns about visiting.
Potential or longstanding customers will then feel confident that the brand is taking their health seriously in the wake of coronavirus and will appreciate these measures. When compared to a company who hasn’t introduced such an initiative, the business that has will have a decided advantage.
The second purpose of such schemes is so that businesses can legitimately focus their efforts on making sure COVID-19 stays far away from them and their guests. The fact is that more effort now needs to be made to keep infectious viruses at bay. Such dangers are now firmly back in the public consciousness and are unlikely to go away anytime soon. These fears have also been shown to be sensible and warranted, coronavirus has been a real threat and has claimed thousands of lives.
Prior to coronavirus the world hadn’t seen a deadly pandemic since the days of influenza. Since that time medical science has become so advanced that it’s reasonable to state that the developed world had become somewhat lackadaisical. Infectious disease was something that happened far away or long ago, not to our friends and neighbours and certainly not to us. This perception has been shattered, and that’s because it was never accurate in the first place. Viruses like COVID-19 have always been a threat and always will be.
What are Brands Doing?
Different brands have each set various procedures in place going forward. WA Hospitality have now declared that their employees will be given additional hygiene training in future. Some of it will be specifically related to COVID-19. The company will not only assess their cleanliness protocols but will also make a training course for all new and current employees to complete. This will be mandatory across all sites.
Radisson Hotel Group have recently partnered with cleaning company SGS to launch their initiative. This will include a thorough review of all their existing safety measures followed by the recommendations of industry experts on how they can improve further. Another company RIU Hotels and Resorts have done something similar. In fact, they have launched 17 separate initiatives, each aimed at improving a certain aspect of the company’s hygiene and safety efforts from cleanliness to staff health.
ITC Hotels have launched their ‘WeAssure’ scheme. This confirms that each of their sites is monitored and accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH). Such certification will allow the company to confirm its sites are run to the highest of health standards. By aligning with a company that normally assesses hospitals and medical facilities, this really is a masterstroke by ITC for winning customer confidence and ensuring their hotels are as safe as they can be.
TUI have introduced a ‘10 Point Plan’ which will gradually see each site open again in time. Part of the plan also includes new health and safety measures which the group hopes will reassure guests they are taking their welfare more seriously than ever. It’s expected that many of the policies will continue well after COVID-19 has been extinguished.
Best Western have introduced a new programme called ‘We Care Clean’ and have based the scheme on advice from the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Like ITC, it’s hoped such affiliations will allow the company to demonstrate its commitment to hygiene and cleanliness.
Sandals have also introduced a new health and safety initiative. They have called it the ‘Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness’. The idea is that the hygiene and safety of their guests (and staff) are now paramount and will be the company’s main focus across all of their popular holiday resorts. Hilton and Marriott have also confirmed similar schemes focusing on hygiene and cleanliness going forward.
Some brands are getting extra creative with their new hygiene policies. For example, some Kempinski Hotels are bringing back ‘White Glove Service’, a homage to hotels of the past. But this modern take has health and safety at its heart. Staff will wear gloves throughout all their interactions with customers as well as making use of various other safety measures like sanitising room keys. Scandic Hotels recently released a statement on their website to confirm they too are overhauling their cleanliness policies in the wake of COVID-19.
What are You Doing?
Many of the brands mentioned above may represent your competition or have achieved a level of success that you would like to emulate. Introducing a scheme like the ones listed and carrying out a similar strategy is now no longer optional. Customers will now be expecting it. They will be actively looking for it and will want to know what you are doing specifically, and how is it different/better than your competitors?
Not only is introducing such a scheme vital to ensuring your business does everything it can to be and stay free from coronavirus, but it will also protect you from any other threats that may one day materialise. In 2019 no hotel owner expected to be in the situation they are in now, but viruses have since re-established themselves as humanity’s only predator. There’s no telling if and when another threat could appear. Experts like The World Health Organisation have been warning us about SARS and other COVID related threats for many years, but only now is the wider world paying attention. What is it you’re going to do differently?
Also, consider putting a plan in place from a PR/marketing and relationship management perspective. As all the brands referenced above have done; you can advertise this. Careful communication of such a scheme will be an important tool in driving traffic and eventual custom to your business. There’s a reason why so many leading hospitality brands have invested so heavily in this idea, they know it’s going to ultimately pay off. More importantly, in a newly hygiene conscious world, they can’t afford not to.
How We Can Help You
Virtual Solutions understand public relations in intrinsic detail. Our service is much more than just that of a digital marketing agency, we are specialists in relationship management and all that this encompasses. Not only can we help you create an initiative like the ones mentioned above that’s unique to your brand, but we can also help you market it correctly, so it gets you noticed ahead of your competitors.
Remember, creating this scheme is only half the battle. It will need carefully communicating in a sensitive and effective manner to truly be worth the investment. It’s vital, now more than ever, to protect your brand image and enhance your reputation. If you’re not already now is the time to solidify yourself as a market leader, and we want to help you achieve that.
Learn more about what we can do for you and get in touch here: https://virtual-solutions.co.uk/temporary-marketing-support/