Over the last year the hospitality industry has had to make changes in many aspects of their business, ranging from small changes like tape on the floor to maintain social distancing to major adjustments in policies. The industry has done all this with flexibility, but the end is not yet in sight.The top priority is the safety of travelers and staff. Policies include mandatory face masks, social distancing measures, and improved cleaning routines
Cleaning for the hospitality industry is critical, not only because cleanliness influences customer satisfaction, but also because it directly affects the wellbeing of guests and staff.
A recent study by Trivago shows that “71% of guests expect “above average” cleanliness ratings when choosing hotels.” Of course, travelers want to stay in a clean room while on their trip, but visual perception is not the only reason cleaning is crucial. Guest rooms can harbor many different types of germs and bacteria, so frequent cleaning is vital to ensure every guest is staying in a clean and odor-free environment.
Guests have always expected a certain level of cleanliness, but since the pandemic the expectations of travelers have risen significantly. Hotels want to be ready to meet these new standards, to ensure guests feel safe and confident enough to go on a trip once travel starts up again. Taking new initiatives may be just what they need to do to give travelers the peace of mind they need to have a comfortable getaway. In this way, hotels will ensure business in the ‘new normal.’
Floor cleaning robots
During COVID-19, visiting hotels has not been the experience we are accustomed to. Many hotels are requiring guests to quarantine in their rooms for 3-14 days upon arrival to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Moreover, once a traveler tests positive with the virus, guests are required to go to an isolation hotel for 10 additional days until they are COVID-19 free. Guests cannot wander around the halls, go to the pool, restaurants, or use any of the facilities.
With travelers spending prolonged periods living, eating, and sleeping in the same space, it is even more important that these environments are cleaned frequently and thoroughly. However, cleaning staff cannot go into the guest rooms to clean them, since they are occupied by the “quarantined” and isolated guests. This is where the automated cleaning equipment is crucial.
Floor cleaning robots, like the Whiz, distributed in partnership with ICE Robotics and SoftBank Robotics, can safely go into a room while guests are still in there. The cleaning of the floor in a guest room can be crucial to the cleanliness of this space.
Dirt and debris can get stuck in carpet fibers but can also be found on hard flooring. Studies show that when this dirt does not get cleaned up properly, it can get back in the air that guests breathe, compromising their health and safety. Whiz is offered through an autonomous vacuum rental plan through ICE Robotics, uses HEPA filters that are proven to be more effective for picking up all these dirt particles.
Moreover, the presence of a floor cleaning robot can have a reassuring effect on the guests that are quarantined in the room. Seeing the robot at work gives them a visible perception of cleanliness, which can give travelers the safe feeling they need to be comfortable during their stay.
Furthermore, using floor cleaning robots to aid cleaning staff can free up valuable time that can be effectively used on other valuable cleaning tasks. The time that cleaning teams would otherwise spend on vacuuming rooms can now be spent on other high-priority tasks, like disinfecting high touchpoint surfaces and cleaning areas the robots cannot reach.
While autonomous floor cleaning equipment can tackle part of the issue, the physical presence of cleaning equipment is not enough to ensure the cleanliness of a space and the safety of guests. To achieve the new standards in the industry, it is crucial to clean as effectively and productively as possible, optimally using all cleaning solutions at your disposal.
One effective way to achieve this is to use a fleet management platform. ICE Robotics Intelligent Cleaning Equipment is offered through an all-inclusive subscription model that includes i-Synergy fleet management software. This cloud-based software gives end users access to data like the activity and inactivity of the machine, the square footage cleaned and provides maintenance or error notifications.
Having access to this kind of data will aid hotel managers to stay on top of the cleaning process at all times. An overview of all cleaning actions presents opportunities for improvement to make the procedure more efficient and staff more productive.
Aside from this, the fleet management software provides business owners with all information necessary to speak to a confirmed clean. This can be an extra way to ensure clients that the cleaning standards have been met and the safety of their guests is guaranteed.
Other autonomous technologies
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention: “You can come into contact with the virus when touching or handling items such as cash, pens at the front desk, room keys, key cards, or merchandise.” This shows that although cleaning the environment is crucial, other measures should be taken to ensure the safety of guests.
The airline industry has already understood the importance of improved service and contactless operations and has introduced more automation at airports, working with virtual check-in and self-service baggage drop. This strategy can also be applied to the hospitality industry to minimize the social contact and contact with high touchpoint surfaces to maintain overall safety.
One thing that can offer a solution is key-less entry to the rooms. Guests will be provided with a digital keycard; this can be through an app or via a QR-code that is emailed along with the reservation. Big chains such as Hilton and Marriot have already made this change. Travelers can scan this to open their rooms, saving time and minimizing physical contact while handing over keys. In addition, the key is only active during the time the room is booked for, enabling mobile checkout, and again reducing interaction times.
In the same way virtual check-in can also work to reduce the social contact. Through an app, or a video call to the front desk, guests can check into their rooms without having to physically stand close to a hotel employee. This might also work for providing customer service to travelers.
One more technology that hotels can implement is room service robots. Instead of having an employee deliver meals to the rooms of guests, robots can take this job on to eliminate any social contact. In this way, the safety of both the guests and staff is guaranteed.
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If you’d like to read further, we suggest downloading our How to Meet Increased Cleaning Expectations Guide.