Credit to Author: Neha Jaitpal| Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2020 18:00:33 +0000
In the context of COVID-19, which as affected nearly every aspect of culture and commerce, innovative hotel operators are responding with expanded hygiene and safety protocols that are essential to ensuring healthy hotels. These efforts supplement the already stringent cleaning routines employed at leading hotels, and they are designed to ensure the wellbeing and confidence of both guests and staff in the context of the new reality.
New technologies are helping to deliver healthy hotels, changing the way they welcome, serve and protect guests
While leading hotels have implemented significant changes to their health and safety protocols, there is more that can be done to rebuild consumer trust in these uncertain times. Hospital-grade disinfectants, deep-cleaning of high-touch surfaces, hand sanitizing stations, PPE for staff, social distancing protocols, and contactless check-in are all important tactics, but there are additional hotel technology innovations that can help these organizations take the concept of “healthy hotels” to the next level.
The team at Schneider Electric has been actively developing and implementing a variety of new hotel technology solutions that our customers can use to help ensure a healthy, safe, and comfortable stay for their guests. These solutions cover a variety of areas spanning the hotel facilities and guest experience.
Air and Surface Cleaning Solutions
At the foundational level, keeping the air and surfaces in a hotel clean and free from viruses is key to ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of both guests and staff
Antibacterial and Durable Products
Health risks like coronavirus are heightened with exposure to high-touch areas that may be contaminated. In a hotel setting, such areas include light switches, thermostats, bedside controls, and even electrical outlets.
Gathering insights from their internal experts on solutions for the healthcare industry, Schneider Electric sought to cross pollinate successful strategies from hospitals and other medical facilities that deal with this risk daily. In such facilities, it is common practice to use products made of either tempered glass or Urea Formaldehyde. Tempered glass is strong and easy to clean and less likely to harbor viruses. Products made of Urea Formaldehyde have inherent antibacterial properties. Both options are available in a wide variety of products and components.
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring and Control
Air quality is a critical, front-line safety measure in any health-related situation. Proper monitoring and control with integrated systems helps to mitigate health risks, maintain optimal comfort, and provide guests with peace of mind. Using these kinds of solutions, hotel operators can ensure optimal humidity levels, confirm adequate air circulation, monitor CO2 and VoC levels, and ensure adequate cleaning through indirect VoC monitoring.
Guest Room Air Quality Control
On the individual guest level, air quality and control within guest rooms provides another layer of protection. An audit of existing HVAC systems helps identify potential risks and opportunities. Based on analysis and consultation, a hotel operator might choose to adjust humidity levels (where possible) to negatively impact the virus lifespan, restrict changes on setpoints, or upgrade existing filtration to HEPA or MERV 12 or above standards.
UV lighting is a hospital-grade disinfectant for removing mold, bacteria, and viruses of all kinds from surfaces and the air. Hotels are using this method in a variety of ways including Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI), which uses coil sanitizers to keep the drain trays, coil faces, and drain pans in air handling systems free of algae, mold, and biofilm build up. In addition, hotels are using both portable and hardwired UV lighting to supplement regular cleaning areas in high-traffic areas. Integrated solutions can be connected to the building management system so that an entire room can be sanitized remotely with the push of a button. Built-in PIR motion sensors (40 ft range) ensure that humans are not exposed to harmful UV light.
Touchless solutions cover a range of technologies, many of which allow for direct guest control of room features through touchless interfaces.
Connected Room Solution
Schneider Electric’s Connected Room Solution for Hotels offers customizable scene control that hotel operators can use to design universal settings for lights, blinds, and temperature based on room occupancy and time of day.
Mobile Applications and Cloud Architecture
Branded hotel loyalty apps can be used to provide guests with an integrated experience that allows them to use their mobile device to check in and out, order room service, and control room features such as the door, lighting, blinds, TV, and so forth. Schneider Electric’s Smart Connector provides the central interface for mobile apps and cloud-based integrations.
To mirror the experience many people enjoy at home with voice-activated assistants, Schneider Electric can work with hotel operators to integrate the BMS with Amazon’s Alexa services. Voice control allows for an experience that is not only touchless, but also enhances guest comfort and convenience. This solution can be used to manage in-room features, order room service, schedule housekeeping, and a range of other activities.
Space Management Solutions
Health experts have consistently recommended two main lines of defense against the coronavirus: basic hygiene (cleaning surfaces and washing hands) and maintaining a social distance of at least six feet. Social distancing is a key part of a healthy hotels’ strategy. Luckily, there are a variety of non-intrusive hotel technology solutions to help operators remotely measure utilization and people count across different areas in real time.
Using these solutions, hotel operators can:
- Monitor occupancy levels in real time
- Set capacity thresholds for specific rooms or floors
- Analyze how occupants are using individual and collaborative spaces
People counting sensors, for example, uses 3D sensing technology and excellent discrimination capabilities to accurately (and anonymously) count the people in a given space in near real time (<700ms).
Other solutions use wearable and proximity beacons to not only track space usage, but—in the case of wearables—to facilitate contact tracing by understanding the interactions between staff and guests. This solution can be integrated into the BMS dashboard.
On the operational side, these kinds of solutions can help optimize the efficiency of key labor management (like routing housekeeping staff) while maintaining social distancing protocols. They can also be used to manage HVAC to ensure energy efficiency. There are expansive possibilities.
Leading the Way to Define Healthy Hotels
We’ve been working closely with our customers on the topic of healthy hotels, aligning our innovations with their goals and initiatives. Marriott International launched a Global Cleanliness Council specifically to tackle the additional problems created by COVID-19. The council, which includes experts from a variety of leaders in housekeeping, engineering, food safety and other areas, is addressing tactical disinfection methodologies as well as overall interaction protocols.
Similarly, Hilton’s CleanStay program—launched in partnership with RB/Lysol and Mayo Clinic—aims to develop and implement a rigorous system that builds upon the existing high standards of housekeeping and hygiene at Hilton properties around the world. The program will include additional deep cleaning for high-touch areas, removal of paper amenities, improved disinfection guidelines for fitness centers, contactless check-in, and other strategies.
IHG’s Way of Clean program was developed in 2015 with Ecolab and Diversey. IHG is now expanding the program to include additional COVID-19 protocols and best practices. A team from the Cleveland Clinic will provide expert counsel to help IHG translate clinical concepts into actionable strategies in hotels.
There won’t be a return to “normal.” Hotels must adapt to the new normal
People everywhere are ready to start traveling again. They want to get back out in the world, visit friends and family, and create memories. What these travelers need from hotel operators is an assurance that their guest stay will not only be comfortable and convenient, but also safe and healthy.
Starting today and for the foreseeable future, guests will be assessing hotels on an entirely new set of standards. Their choice of where to stay will no longer be made primarily on location or amenities or even price, but on whether or not the hotel will be able to provide true peace of mind. And delivering peace of mind requires establishing the highest level of trust.
This is the new normal. Beyond the current pandemic, health experts predict that additional health crises will arise. This is the time for hotel operators to explore forward-looking solutions that will help future-ready their properties and their business.
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