Industry experts are predicting a huge rise in staycations when lockdown laws lift, as many of us will check into a self-maintained home – however we’re all getting a bit sick of cooking and cleaning for ourselves.
So, when we can finally fly again and venture to another country, what will it be like? Will we still be able to have a massage in the sea-view spa, will we be waited on hand and foot? The reality is, probably not – as most things at a five-star hotel that include close human contact will have to go on hold. Hygiene and distancing will now be the number one priority for establishments, handshakes on arrival or a shared umbrella with a doorman will be no more, but the industry is adaptable and it’s likely replacements will be introduced until normality can resume.
To regain the confidence of guests, hotel chains such as Radisson are looking to roll out extensive new cleaning programmes and certification processes for ‘high-touch’ points, such as controls and switches in a hotel room, ensuring they’re immaculate. In-house leisure and gym facilities will be sterilised throughout the day and some businesses are discussing seals for bedroom doors to show no one has entered a room. Robot butlers are even being discussed alongside ultraviolet light to sanitise interiors.
Many within the industry have shared how the crisis has encouraged changes that were already slowly being implemented, especially when it comes to technology. Businesses are looking to introduce a simple ‘contactless’ check-in process through a smart phone, with phones then being used to allow guests access to their room – larger groups such as Marriott and Hilton already have this in place through their loyalty programme.
It’s likely we’ll see changes to in-room dining too, paper menus will be replaced with digital QR codes and staff will no longer wheel your order into your room, rather pop it by your door like an at-home takeaway.
Smaller boutique operations will also need to adapt – they may not have the means to invest in new digital applications, but there are other ways they can change to ensure a safe reopening. We’ve seen a number of popular family-run businesses in Italy and Greece reopen differently, only offering half of their rooms and billing it a more ‘intimate’ stay, and others have marketed the entire venue rather than on a room-by-room basis.
Airbnb recently introduced new features to reassure customers, flagging if a host is adhering to new cleaning guidelines and letting you know when a rental was last occupied before arrival. All of these implications will make a five-star holiday a very different experience – but it will be a holiday nonetheless. Knowing establishments are putting your safety first, whilst still being able to relax and enjoy a drink by the pool, is good enough for us.