For a business traveler, traveling and staying in a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic might be a cause for concern. While you may have prepared the company for business travel, it may still feel overwhelming trying to keep up with all of the information that is constantly changing. If you might have to book a business flight soon and find accommodations, you'll want to be sure you are doing it safely.
Hotels across the board have new safety guidelines issued by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Different leaders in the hotel industry created these guidelines with CDC guidelines in mind. They cover several topics, including cleaning and sanitizing hotels, employee and guest interactions, and standards needed at hotels.
While this is welcome news, you may still be concerned about whether hotels are safe. Here are a few points to consider when determining where to stay.
What are hotels doing to keep guests safe?
While each hotel brand has its policies, the AHLA has provided safety guidelines for hotels nationwide. Employee responsibilities include frequent handwashing, comprehensive Covid-19 training, and proper wearing and disposing of face coverings. Employee areas will be cleaned at least twice per day.
Cleaning products must be EPA approved or a solution with at least 70 percent alcohol. Places to disinfect at least once daily include public spaces and communal areas, including counters, handrails, elevator buttons, public restrooms, vending and ice machines, room keys, gym, pool, and spa areas, and any seating areas. Housekeeping services for guest rooms will only be available if requested.
Guest room cleaning will have more focus on high-contact areas like telephones, remotes, door handles, bathroom surfaces, alarms, and luggage racks. All single-use items will be discarded. Staff must wait at least 15 minutes to enter a room a guest has checked out of to allow air to circulate.
Shared equipment, including cleaning supplies, will be disinfected after each shift or when a new employee is using it. Laundry will be bagged and collected in rooms to minimize excess contact. If a guest had Covid-19, the room that they stayed in should be quarantined for at least 24 hours and not be used until it has had an advanced cleaning in line with EPA and CDC standards.
The AHLA recommends hotels get water and air filtration systems checked to comply with CDC guidelines.
Face coverings are required in all indoor spaces and common areas. Guests should maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another while hotels should clearly mark areas so that it is easier for guests to comply. If possible, there should be a flow for queues, such as one door being an entrance while the other being an exit. There will be limits on how many people can enter elevators and stairwells.
Guests should also choose contactless options whenever possible, including for payments and check-in. If you can do something online (like to book your reservation), it is recommended that you do so. Most important, if you are ill or have been in contact with someone who is sick, please refrain from traveling.
Food services will be no-contact delivery or served by an attendant. Expect buffet services to be more grab and go style. You will likely have to request utensils, condiments, and any other extras that would typically be freely available.
Staying safe at other accommodations
If you are staying at an Airbnb or other home rental, you will want to be sure that the accommodation has had time to air out. Try to stay somewhere that allows you to open windows. Check any cleaning policies and consider bringing some of your own cleaning products for extra precautions.
Motels are also an option to consider. They usually don't have shared hallways or shared cooling units (many are window or wall units). You likely won't have as much enclosed contact as you would at a hotel.
Before you book any hotels, you may want to check what their cleaning policies are. Checking a hotel's website is a good source as the policies should be stated. You may also want to check or ask what plans are in place should a guest come down with symptoms.
Additional travel tips
If you must travel, try to go when there won't be as many people. Travel by car is safest as you will have less contact with others. If you are flying and take your mask off to eat or drink, try to do it quickly and when others aren't also eating and drinking.
Also, try to stick to well-ventilated areas, if possible. Keep your distance, wear a mask, and practice proper hygiene. It doesn't hurt to also have alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer on hand for reassurance.