When you think of a global hotel company with properties all around the world, who comes to mind?
Between the three companies, you’ll find nearly 20,000 hotel properties on every continent except Antarctica.
Collectively, the companies manage 50 different hotel brands.
Each company has its namesake brand: Hilton Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott Hotels & Resorts, respectively.
But each also offers luxury brands and basic, select-service brands.
On the high-end, you’ll find Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria, IHG’s Regent, and Marriott’s The Ritz-Carlton. On the lower-end, Hilton’s Hampton, IHG’s Candlewood Suites, and Marriott’s SpringHill Suites.
As people begin to travel again and COVID-19 continues, how have these three hotel groups adapted their massive guest operations?
And with global and diverse brand portfolios, how is each company managing cleaning, mask-wearing, social distancing, and reservation flexibility?
Cleaning Policies: The Newest, Most Important Brands
Following the start of COVID-19, virtually every hotel company created a brand for its new cleaning protocols. Some have struck public partnerships with disinfectant brands and medical brands to define their new cleanliness standards.
For Hilton, its new brand is called CleanStay. In partnership with RB (the maker of Lysol and Dettol), Hilton uses hospital-grade cleaning products and seals guest rooms after cleaning with a CleanStay sticker indicating the room hasn’t been accessed. Hilton is also performing extra disinfection, focusing on the top 10 most-touched surfaces in a room.
IHG’s new brand is Way of Clean. Focused on deep cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants, IHG has partnered with Ecolab and Diversey on the program’s hygiene and cleaning technologies. For the health and wellbeing of its guests, IHG is working with the Cleveland Clinic to update enhance its hotel safety procedures.
Marriott launched Commitment to Clean. Hospital-grade disinfectants are also central to Marriott’s program, in addition to technologies like electrostatic sprayers which sanitize surfaces. Marriott has also established a Cleanliness Council of experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention, and hotel operations. The Cleanliness Council is responsible for setting Marriott’s cleaning and safety standards moving forward.
Face Masks & Social Distancing
No hotel brand appears to have established a global policy on face masks.
Unlike the airlines – many of which now require employees and passengers wear masks on board – the global hotel companies seem to be deferring to local regulation.
If a particular hotel’s city or state requires masks in public areas (e.g., lobby, restaurant, elevator), the hotel company complies.
Consistent with that, Hilton requires its employees and guests wear masks in public areas when required by the hotel’s state. To enable social distancing, it has adjusted the public areas in many hotels to help guests remain 6 feet from each other. Hilton is strongly encouraging guests to use its mobile app and mobile key, which allow touchless check in at over 4,700 of its hotels
IHG does not appear to have a group-wide policy on face masks, though many of its hotels list guidelines on their local property web sites. For social distancing, IHG is working with the Cleveland Clinic to guide its hotels on distancing procedures and signage. It’s also placing ‘last cleaned’ charts in public areas so guests know when elevators, reception desks, and lobby furniture have been cleaned.
Marriott also does not appear to have a group-wide mask policy, though it has stated it is working to make masks and gloves available to its employees. Regarding social distancing, Marriott is adding partitions at front desks in addition to signage and floor decals in public spaces to encourage physical space between guests. Marriott also recommends guests use its mobile app and key, bypassing the front desk altogether.
Flexibility, Rebooking, & Cancellation
Hilton, IHG, and Marriott have all relaxed rebooking and cancellation policies given the coronavirus pandemic.
While there are some exceptions for certain reservations, most are allowing changes without fees up to 24 hours before arrival.
Hilton reservations booked between March 12, 2020 and August 31, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge, up to 24 hours before arrival.
IHG’s Book Now, Pay Later rate can be cancelled without fees, up to 24 hours before arrival. For complete details, consult IHG’s web site.
Marriott reservations booked until July 5, 2020 for any future arrival date can be changed or cancelled without fees, up to 24 hours before arrival.
Hilton, IHG, and Marriott have each moved deliberately and efficiently to reorient their guest standards for a very different travel experience.
While each company’s cleaning, social distancing, and cancellation policies should be implemented and consistently delivered at each of its hotels, it’s important to remember that the standards are still new. Rollouts take time, especially at this scale.
As the coronavirus situation and travel in general continues to evolve, check their web sites for the latest information.