As we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry remains focused on how to make people feel safe again upon reopening. In this post, we are highlighting the new guidelines being explored by nightlife, restaurants, entertainment, museum, event, and hotel spaces to change up their guest experience strategies. As our industry works to reinvent itself, decision-makers are sharing how they will flex operations, push contactless technology adoption, and embrace social distancing without losing the feeling of connection that so many are eager to flock to as states begin reopening.
Chexology Checkroom Recommendations
Checkrooms are traditionally high-contact, high-touchpoint operations. The average checkroom attendant will greet and exchange items with hundreds of guests per shift. While pandemic-era policies are still being developed around the globe, it's safe to say that customers will want contactless interactions, and checkroom staff may feel apprehensive working in high-volume, enclosed areas. To begin, here are our recommendations for checkrooms to operate safely.
Instead of handing claim tickets back and forth, checkroom attendants can collect customers’ phone numbers from a safe physical distance with the Chexology application and send customers a text message receipt with their claim numbers (example text messages above). If charging for services at the checkroom, our Square integration also allows attendants to take contactless payments instead of handling cash. The Chexology application can be utilized:
As far as item handling, we recommend having a prep area where customers put their belongings like backpacks, handbags, or coats in a Macy's style eco-friendly bag. From there, customers should place these bags on s-hooks that hang from hanger stands on checkroom counters. Attendants will then grab the top of these hooks to safely hang these bags on racks.
For larger items, like luggage, we recommend that checkroom attendants practice CDC guidelines for hand hygiene. A proper hand hygiene process includes wearing a fresh pair of gloves for each interaction, and carefully removing and disposing of gloves after each interaction. With proper training, handle wraps or wipe downs of handles between each handoff could be considered a cost-saving alternative.
Use our digital queue process to speed up departure, keep the checkroom hallway open, and maintain physical distancing requirements. Checkroom attendants can queue customers’ items ahead of time using an iPad, iPhone, or iPod. This process not only works well post-COVID but is generally a more luxurious customer experience since their items will be ready by the time they reach the counter or departure area.
For item handling, once a checkroom attendant receives a queue request, they simply grab the top of the s-hook off the rack and place the bag back on the hanger stand. That way, the customer can easily and safely take the Macy's style bag off the s-hook and go. Larger items would require either another set of gloves, handle wipe downs, or removal of wraps by attendants.
New industry-wide reopening procedures
Restaurants & bars
Restaurants have gotten creative while implementing new policies and procedures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Twisted Citrus in North Canton, Ohio installed clear shower curtains between each table to separate diners. This move maximized space and allowed them to open when it otherwise would not have been feasible. Other restaurants are exploring barriers including elegant stained glass, plastic partitions, and even mirrors. Plants seem to be the most popular option as they are easy to procure and bring life to the space.
Officials have stated that from a public health standpoint, restaurants should have a clearer path to reopening than arenas, schools, and some offices as owners can space tables and limit capacity.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance is working on guidelines to reopen safely. Executive Director Andrew Rigie states, "If the restaurant and nightlife industry is not at the core of our city's economic recovery, New York City's economy will not fully recover.” The guideline will include customers seated father apart, workers wearing face masks, and some restaurants using disposable plates and silverware. In addition, many will be doing online ordering and payments, limiting the exchange of menus, and only taking credit cards.
While officials are still working on solutions to allow for nightlife establishments with fewer tables and wait for services to reopen, some bars have already reopened in states like Georgia and Alabama. As we prepare to say hello to temperature checks with ID checks and six-foot markings to indicate proper spacing for bar and nightclub lines, designers at Production Club created Micrashell have completely reimagined gatherings in person.
In what is a glimpse of hope for the concert industry, Live Nation hosted its first live concert since quarantine on Friday, May 18 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Travis McCready performed at Brown's TempleLive with many new guidelines in place, giving us an idea of what the future of concerts may look like. Attendance was limited to 20% capacity with fans being placed in “fan pods” consisting of 2-12 twelve seats. Fans were required to wear masks and have their temperature taken upon entry. In bathrooms, soap and paper towels dispensers were touchless, and all food and beverage at concession stands were prepackaged or had lids. Live Nation hopes this concert will be a positive step in showing health officials how protocols can be used to get more shows back on the calendar in 2020.
Outside of the McCready show, Live Nation is also planning to test drive-in concerts, crowd-less broadcasted shows, and reduced capacity festivals, as was outlined by CEO Michael Rapino during their Q1 earnings call on May 7.
Potential concert-goers face a novel psychological tension coming out of quarantine: the innate human desire to share public spaces with other people after spending months in isolation versus the global trauma of an unseen, little-understood pathogen causing widespread sickness and death. Variety reports that venues are exploring ways to ease this psychological burden by exploring touchless technology and implementing more germ-resistant materials.
Many museums have shut their doors to the public under the stay-at-home orders effective in their states. Cultural Strategy Expert Andras Szanto wrote an op-ed piece on Artnet highlighting the importance of art during times of crisis and advocating for museums to be among the first to reopen with a suggested step-by-step plan. His plan includes coming up with a timed entry system that will limit the number of visitors at a time, enforce social distancing, and have special entrances and hours for those guests who are more vulnerable (elderly, immunocompromised, etc.).
As mentioned in Return Part 2, Texas Governor Greg Abbott lifted the stay-at-home order on April 27, stating that museums are allowed to operate at 25% occupancy with interactive exhibits remaining closed. Most museums chose not to reopen until they had developed adequate plans to keep guests and employees safe.
Museums in the US are certainly considering what measures to take and how to plan for reopening during these times. In Oklahoma for example, museums like the Science Museum, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, are all preparing for a possible June reopening in phases. The first phase across the board is bringing back staff to the building and making sure that CDC guidelines are being adhered to before reopening to the public. For the NCWHM, the second phase will be reopening to the public followed by the reopening of their event spaces in phase 3. The OCMA is planning on putting in place new health and safety measures and devising unique methods to protect senior citizens and those who are more at risk.
Colleen Dilenschneider, Chief Market Engagement Officer for IMPACTS, runs the popular website Know Your Bone, which provides data-backed resources and information to cultural organizations. A recent article was published detailing the various ways cultural organizations, like museums, will need to meet visitor needs in order to make them feel safe again. Aside from a vaccine being available, most individuals have stated several other factors that are within an organization’s control. These factors include lifting of movement and access restrictions, the ability to be outside/outdoors, and strict health guidelines put in place (social distancing, temperature checks, availability of masks and hand sanitizer, etc.). With these metrics in mind, museums can begin to put in place key measures and plans that will make guests feel safe to visit again.
Meetings & events
The German government made an interesting decision classifying “trade shows” as different from “mass gatherings,” theoretically allowing trade shows to start taking place again immediately. We will be following this closely to see if US governments in our main markets take a similar approach.
The Event Manager Blog has been keeping us up to date on what post-coronavirus events will look like and when we can expect them to return. The most poignant health considerations they are tackling include social distancing, insurance, thermal scanning, sanitation and disinfection, triage and handling of those who show symptoms, and vulnerable population management.
Changes in room layouts will be vital and self-serving buffets will become a thing of the past. Expect distancing measures enforced at check-in and session entrances, signage focused towards these measures, and empty rows creating space between attendees. Evening activities may also pivot into more structured networking events allowing organizers more control in enforcing distancing.
Hotels have also begun plans for reopening, with Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton making announcements regarding the guidelines they will be putting in place.
Marriott has launched a Global Cleanliness Council to further elevate its already existing standards of cleanliness. It will be headed by Ray Bennett Chief Global Officer, Global Operations, and will include advisory members from a variety of fields including food safety & public health, infectious diseases, hospitality and tourism management, and food science. Marriott plans on using new technology when it comes to cleaning, including the use of electrostatic sprayers which use the top of the line CDC and WHO disinfectants for known pathogens. They will also be looking at ultraviolet light to disinfect keys and tools shared by staff and looking to reduce guest contact by implementing contactless technologies such as guests being able to use their phones to check-in, as mobile keys, and place room requests (food, laundry, etc.).
In the same vein, Hyatt is implementing its Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to enhance its already existing operational procedures around cleanliness. In addition to a panel of industry experts and professionals and staff at hotels trained as Hygiene Managers, Hyatt will be including accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) called GBAC STARTM. This accreditation will see hotels confirm that they have the proper protocols in place for disinfection and best cleaning practices as it comes to the novel coronavirus. Hyatt will also be exploring contactless technology to reduce guest contact.
Hilton launched a program of their own called CleanStay with Lysol Protection, partnering with RB/Lysol and Mayo Clinic to elevate sanitation procedures from check-in to check-out. Though details of the program are still in development, here are some items to be included: a CleanStay seal on guest rooms indicating to guests that no one has touched the room since it has been thoroughly cleaned, a plan to deeply disinfect 10 high touch areas in guest rooms (thermostats, light switches, doorknobs, etc.), and like Marriott, the use of electrostatic sprayers for deep cleaning. Hilton will also be working on expanding its digital key technology to reduce guest contact in common areas and provide guests with a contactless check-in and check-out experience. For now, this program will be implemented in North America while RB and Hilton work to take it global.
As Las Vegas prepares to open with many changes, Wynn has announced its safety program which has been developed in consultation with three leading public health medical professionals and fellows of Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities.
A full reopening of Las Vegas isn’t going to be fast or simple but on May 7, The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) approved new operating guidelines for reopening the state’s casinos. Changes will include operating at half capacity, a limit on how many players can play on the same table, and a clear distance between guests at slots and other gaming machines. Casinos will have to submit their plan for reopening based on the guidelines to the NBCG for approval at least 7 days prior to their reopening date.
Atlantic City has also released operational recommendations for reopening its casinos. Similarly, their guidelines include frequent hand washing for staff, mask requirements, and social distancing on the casino floor.
For more COVID-19 industry updates:
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