It’s been a tough year for the hospitality industry, but better days are ahead. With more than 200 million vaccinations distributed in the U.S., people are starting to think about post-pandemic life. There’s pent-up demand for travel so those exiting a quarantine bubble can enjoy a change of scenery. That means hotels need to get ready for an influx of guests.
The CDC now says people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely. In most states, people 65 and older were first in line for vaccines, and now they are first out of the gate to resume travel. A recent New York Times article confirmed this belief, focusing on the wave of senior citizen travelers who are eager to reengage with the world after a year of playing it safe.
But as the group most vulnerable to COVID-19, many seniors are still cautious even after receiving vaccinations, and they aren’t alone. Families with children who aren’t yet vaccinated and people with underlying conditions may still be extra cautious. Property managers can help allay their fears, and digital forms can play a significant role in ensuring health and safety.
Consider an Online Survey to Get the Ball Rolling
One way to better understand guests’ concerns and cleaning preferences — while sending a subtle message that you’ve got this covered — is to survey customers online. You don’t have to create a survey from scratch; there are free and low-cost form options that make putting an online survey together quick and painless, even without technical expertise.
You can easily create a short survey using a drag-and-drop template; brand it with your logo; and then use it to gauge guest concerns about travel safety, ask about specific cleaning preferences, and inquire about preferred safety protocols, like contactless check-in and checkout, contact-free room service deliveries, etc.
A safety survey will help you better understand how your guests feel about emerging from the pandemic and what they want to see from you in terms of transmission mitigation and safety efforts. It will also let them know that safety is top of mind at your property, a reassuring message that can make a difference for potential guests who are still anxious about COVID-19.
Create Digital Forms to Minimize Risks at Your Property
Most hotels already have contactless check-in and checkout options available, but additional safety measures will require supplementing those tools with items like digital consent forms. You can create an online form to screen guests to ensure they aren’t experiencing COVID-19 symptoms before they check in.
Depending on the services you offer at your property, you may also want to ask guests to sign a COVID-19 release waiver, especially if you offer spa amenities or have an onsite fitness center or pool. A release waiver adds a layer of protection to your business by helping you limit potential legal exposure if a guest contracts COVID-19 after a stay at your property.
It’s also a good idea to screen staff and do daily health checks to make sure employees stay safe. Asking employees to complete an online self-screening questionnaire before reporting to work is one way to ensure people don’t show up with symptoms and that you stay informed about any contact your team members have had with others who may be infected.
Develop Digital Cleaning Checklists
If you’ve conducted an online survey to gather guest preferences on cleaning protocols, that can help you establish procedures that will ensure your guests feel safe. As a baseline, the CDC’s guide for hotels, resorts and lodges is an excellent resource to help you establish stringent cleaning standards that minimize viral spread.
In addition to advising managers to adhere to any applicable state or local cleaning standards, the guide outlines best practices for keeping guests and staff safe. Suggestions include hand sanitizing stations, physical barriers to minimize contact, and regular cleaning and sanitizing of common areas.
Digital cleaning checklist forms can help hotel staff implement and stick to a rigorous disinfection plan. With an online template, it’s simple to create a checklist of surfaces and areas that need to be cleaned regularly, designate a schedule, and provide a way for employees to document the time and date they sanitized an area.
Get Back to Something Like Normal
We’re not out of the woods yet, but the travel industry is showing some green shoots of growth already, and as vaccine distribution continues, getting back to something like normal seems more possible every day. That’s great news for hotels, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to get ready for post-pandemic life.
Since vaccine rollouts prioritized senior citizens, older Americans are leading the way back to normal, but they’ll soon be followed by younger demographics. Vaccines are remarkably effective at keeping the virus in check, but they aren’t a guarantee against infection, and people aren’t going to forget that as they resume their usual activities.
Hotels that reach out to guests about safety concerns, implement safety measures and minimize contact will be in the best position to bounce back. Digital forms can be an important part of a hotel manager’s strategy to resume full operations as the pandemic recedes. And now is the time to prepare for the influx of travelers heading your way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of JotForm, a popular online form builder. Established in 2006, JotForm allows customizable data collection for enhanced lead generation, survey distribution, payment collections, and more.