The hidden challenges to reviving the hospitality sector


Hotels across the globe are reopening under new, mission-driven banners: safe stays, commitments to clean, and so on. We all recognize that keeping guests and staff safe is a challenge, but few fail to acknowledge the nuances of resuming hotel operations.

“When you arrive, you’ll see the steps we’ve taken to ensure your safety,” as so many executives have touted in recent video releases. Therein lies the first challenge – the balancing act of making a visible effort without compromising experience or aesthetics. Anyone would grow tired of the smell of disinfectant hanging heavy in the air. At worst, the harshness of the chemicals could become an irritant itself. Is a sanitizing robot patrolling the halls cool, or creepy? It is possible to implement preventative measures that are both inconspicuous and effective. Your investments don’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – a nuisance.

Beyond being providers of excellent service, hoteliers are finding themselves challenged to fill the role of educator. The merits of some adjustments are obvious – physical barriers and distribution of hand sanitizer, for example – and not every traveler is as sensitive to the risks of travel. But how effectively are you able to communicate the science and strategy behind these measures – especially the most innovative – to your most discerning travelers? It’s important to identify providers who are willing and able to communicate your investment with messaging to your guests in a way that resonates with them and adds value to your brand.

Then there’s the challenge of human capital. We know hotel managers are hard pressed to identify technologies and procedures that minimize the additional effort required of their staff while maximizing impact. Are there technologies that you can invest in that continue the job of reducing infection and transmission risk in-room with limited intervention from housekeeping staff? Look not only to automation to accomplish this, but also to a provider that’s present and attentive. Is the provider committed to customer service with regards to implementation and ongoing support? Seek solutions that delegate responsibility and automate to the extent possible.

It is an opportunity for businesses to be more strategic than ever as they think about immediate and future needs of their guests.  It is an opportunity to provide a truly integrated approach to hygiene.  Is cleaning hard surfaces many more times a day or introducing UV machines in every guest room be the way to go?  Or is there an opportunity to complete the circle of protection by addressing soft surfaces?  Guests and staff are constantly in contact with textiles – wearing them, wiping off with them, sleeping between them. Textiles are the one area where if properly addressed, can fully close the loop of infection control.  Business that have the foresight to invest in disruptive innovations will leap forward.