Travel Confidently - Part 1
Note: This 5 part Travel Confidently series contains excerpts from an article originally published on our Marriott Bonvoy Traveler website, primarly for a US based audience.
How Hotel Cleanliness Has Become the Most Important Travel Amenity
By Robin Bennefield
The moment you step into a hotel room you see the signs of an immaculately cleaned space — from the freshly made bed to glistening bathroom fixtures. Seeing these signs immediately puts us at ease, which is important to travelers now more than ever.
The COVID-19 virus and the ensuing pandemic have changed the travel experience in so many ways, especially how and where we move about the world, including our hotel stay. How hotels are cleaned and maintained has become a key focal point for travelers who yearn to step out and explore again.
Understanding this, hotels are finding ways to elevate existing cleanliness standards with new practices based on the latest science to reduce guest and staff risk of exposure to the virus.
Building on a History of Cleanliness
“We’ve had a long history of very, very rigorous protocols around cleanliness and sanitation,” says Ray Bennett, Marriott International’s chief global operations officer. He cites Marriott’s 90-plus-year history of meticulous cleaning standards and the extensive checklists instituted by founder J. Willard Marriott that are still carried out by associates, from housekeeping staff to general managers.
“It’s these very rigorous protocols that are built into our culture, built into our DNA,” Bennett says.
According to Bennett, COVID-19 has been an opportunity for Marriott to build on this history of cleanliness as well as its history of combatting other infectious disease events that have impacted hotels, including Ebola, SARS, H1N1 and norovirus.
“We’ve learned a great deal about this particular virus,” Bennett says. “We’ve dealt with other virus outbreaks, whether it be H1N1 or norovirus, but I don’t think we’ve ever gone to the level of understanding that … we have with this virus. It has really helped us be at the forefront of making a safe environment for both our associates and our guests.”
The difference has been the assembly of a cleanliness council of infectious disease experts with ties to the World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as leaders in hygiene and infection prevention in the food, healthcare and hospitality industries.
According to Dr. Michael Sauri, an infectious disease expert who sits on the Marriott Cleanliness Council, any effort to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 has to hinge on what epidemiologists call “the 3 Cs.”
“We know that transmission is more likely to occur in closed spaces, in close contact and in crowds,” says Dr. Sauri, who once trained alongside Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the CDC, under Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious disease at NIH. “Therefore, if we simply deny what the virus needs to propagate in the community, its days are numbered.”