The Importance of Visible Hygiene Tech
The technology-enabled world in which we now live has often thrived in reaction to a crisis. The aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis spawned new technology platforms. Uber (2009) and Airbnb (2008) created on-demand platforms to monetize their idle commodities: cars, time, and space.
Not every industry can, or needs to, completely reconfigure itself. Technology solutions can manifest themselves far quicker than a reboot of an entire industry and be very simple. Indeed, for hospitality sector companies, they cannot wait very long. For hotels short of patrons, conference organisers with no delegates and movie multiplexes with nobody watching their summer blockbusters – they need footfall now.
Even if a stunning technology emerged, companies also don’t want a major financial outlay right when they are cash strapped. A technology would also need to deliver a return on investment quickly, not incur material after-sales costs, or require many labour man-hours in maintenance or upkeep. Companies would also want also want reassurance it had passed the appropriate regulatory checks.
For the hospitality sector, as with the wider economy, hygiene now dominates. As the CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, one of the world’s largest producers of health and hygiene products, recently put it:
“Improved hygiene is here to stay. There is a seismic shift in how people are living. As a society, we are embedding new hygiene practices to protect our way of life.”
The New York Times once described me as having seen the ‘future of germs’ and I did. Hygiene is now front and centre – as I knew it eventually would be. Reckitt Benckiser is echoing what I’ve been saying for years.
My proprietary data reveals 75% of the general public’s attitudes to hygiene have changed ‘permanently’ due to Covid-19. Only half believe the usual day-to-day cleaners provide adequate protection from viruses. The most compelling data of all? 75% say they are more likely to visit / or have loved ones inhabit a building, if there is a visible, automatic cleaning device.
Within the concept of general hygiene, it is this idea of visible hygiene that has the ability to restore public confidence levels. If a hygiene product visibly keeps people safe, comfort levels are much greater than a company telling you they’ve maintained hygiene.
Suddenly, the technology landscape for hospitality shifts.
We’re not talking about expensive reboots of IT systems, or software that will take staff months to adapt to with little impact on the consumer. We’re talking about potentially inexpensive and easy-to-implement technologies, visibly reassuring consumers and equally applicable in sports stadia or conference halls. Such hygiene technology could also be deployed in individual premises allowing companies to road-test performance before any wider roll-out, and financial cost.
Ideally, that technology would also offer a grade of hygiene above and beyond what a traditional (human) cleaner could provide, given that staff cannot be everywhere all the time and – as my proprietary research shows – they aren’t always trusted by consumers.
My personal focus is door handles. They are havens for countless types of harmful bacteria and are one of the most common contact points for human-to-human transmission of many types of germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), germs can live on door handles for hours, and in some cases, for days. The modern, clean ‘touchless’ experience of technologies we are already familiar with – such as automatic hand dryers and automatic taps - is all superseded by an infected door handle.
But the technology exists to provide hotels, restaurants, everyone with clean, sanitized door handles via an automated system. The EPA has even approved it. This technology is an “invisible janitor,” consistently protecting people at a critical point of cross-contamination.
The best hygiene needs the best science and technology. Put these ingredients together and the hospitality industry can thrive again very quickly, and very inexpensively.
About the Author
Simon Sassoon is the CEO of 99POINT9