In the aftermath of 9/11, the travel and hospitality industries were tasked with rebuilding public trust in their safety and security. Now, as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality leaders face that same challenge as they work to welcome back their guests.
Every guest touchpoint in hospitality has been affected by the pandemic, from dining, to lodging, to recreational activities. To inspire confidence in their facilities, hospitality providers must reconsider what a healthy building looks like both during and after a pandemic. This means making strategic updates to building infrastructure that will not only keep guests and employees safe now, but for years to come. The result is a hotel or restaurant that delivers an exemplary guest experience, maximizes customer satisfaction and provides a high return on investment.
The healthy building solutions that will power the recovery of hospitality
Before any systems or technologies can be implemented, it’s crucial for hospitality managers to perform extensive assessments to establish their safety KPIs and understand what their facilities need to meet them. Most critical to creating a successful pandemic response in hospitality is assessing facilities’ indoor air quality (IAQ). This can be accomplished by measuring a space’s air changes per hour, or clean air delivery rate (CADR). The CADR provides managers with a quantitative measurement of how often their building’s volume of air is replaced with clean air, which can be correlated with infection risk. Once this target is established, hospitality managers can set their clean air goals and begin exploring the solutions that will meet them, from UV-C disinfection lighting to high-efficiency HVAC filters.
To further protect both guests and staff, hospitality managers can implement intelligent screening solutions to minimize the risk of person-to-person contamination. Existing security cameras can be updated with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to screen for elevated skin temperatures, removing the need for a staff member to take guests’ temperatures manually, which can be a slow and risky process. Face mask detection and social distance monitoring technologies ensure all occupants are adhering to safety guidelines, ultimately contributing to a safer, healthier environment. To deliver hands-free guest experiences, touchless access control solutions can be implemented that leverage the power of facial recognition technology to enable the seamless movement of guests and staff and therefore lower the risk of contamination. Having these solutions and processes visibly in place not only contributes to a healthy hospitality experience, but also instills confidence in both guests and employees to encourage return visits and maximize returns.
Creating flexible and resilient environments that are ready for anything
The COVID-19 pandemic has awakened hospitality managers to the reality that they need to be ready for any potential emergency. Creating a resilient and flexible infrastructure gives managers the peace of mind that their hotel or restaurant is ready for anything. Managers can preprogram their building automation systems (BAS) to include emergency sequences to rapidly change operating conditions and automate processes like cross-contamination shutdown or thermal flush. This level of flexibility ensures all spaces are ready to be repurposed at a moment’s notice.
Once these systems have been installed and tested, it’s up to hospitality managers to ensure they are being properly maintained. Cloud-based remote monitoring solutions allow facility managers to monitor both the systems and the overall health of the building virtually, 24/7, providing expertise to support the service team. Ongoing preventative and predictive maintenance programs keep all systems operating at peak performance, avoiding unplanned downtime and its effect on operations and occupants.
Going the extra mile to keep occupants, and the planet, safe
The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone more mindful of the health of people, places and the planet. The infrastructure upgrades that create healthy buildings can also support the planet’s health, creating a more sustainable and satisfying hospitality experience that has become increasingly attractive to green-minded consumers. The latest energy-efficient systems reduce hotels’ and restaurants’ impact on the environment by minimizing their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By making these environmentally-minded updates, managers are empowered to reach their companies’ sustainability goals, reduce energy and utility costs, maximize profitability and improve employees’ work environment.
Creating a safe and healthy environment to welcome back guests is crucial to the hospitality industry’s recovery, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. A third-party provider can work with building managers to perform the necessary technology assessments to help identify where to focus efforts to support healthy occupants, spaces and the planet. From there, they can manage the implementation and integration of any new systems.
In hospitality, customer satisfaction is everything; hotels and restaurants are judged every day on their ability to deliver comfortable, safe and clean guest experiences, and the pandemic has only heightened this scrutiny. By implementing and advertising healthy building solutions to guests and employees, hospitality leaders can take what they learned from the pandemic to optimize their infrastructure, enabling them to meet their business objectives while providing a healthier environment and staying prepared for an unknown future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tyler Smith is Executive Director, Healthy Buildings at Johnson Controls. Tyler has spent over 15 years with Johnson Controls in roles focused on leveraging building management systems and HVAC equipment to drive important outcomes such as improvements energy efficiency and indoor air quality. From 2018 to 2020 Tyler led Johnson Controls’ Critical Environments business unit, which designs and manufactures systems for critical spaces such as hospitals and laboratories. Since spring of 2020, Tyler has been instrumental in leading Johnson Controls’ COVID-19 response with a focus on helping our customers open and operate healthy buildings.