OPINION: COVID Can’t Sterilize Experiences

Few industries have been as devasted as travel has during this global pandemic. We are anxiously awaiting a new normal when our days become a little less uncertain. And as I’m sure you are, our team at Achieve is eager to get back to the work we love.

Recently, I had the opportunity to embark on my first business trip since the pandemic began. I used this trip as a fact-finding mission to discover how airports, airlines, hotels, and transportation companies are operating in response to Covid. 

I have detailed these new precautions and procedures in this informational video. My hope is that through my experience, you will feel better prepared and aware of the changes as you look to provide travel guidance to your event attendees.

What I witnessed during my time in Cancun, Mexico gave me hope and confidence for the future of meetings and incentives. I was fortunate to see first-hand how hotels have transformed to meet their newest challenge: To incorporate safety measures into their every accommodation and interaction.

Throughout each of the five hotels I visited, I met with teams across all departments to understand the full scope of the initiatives they have introduced. In many cases, teams have several hundred new protocols to perfect and employ.

Our post-Covid world prepares bell captains to walk through a series of safety steps that include checking guests’ temperatures, disinfecting luggage, and providing hand sanitizer.

 

Food and Beverage teams use new hospital-grade cleaning solutions and have made the dining experience touchless thanks to scannable QR codes to access menus.

Fitness centers require advance reservations and spas allow for extra time between services to deep-clean the treatment rooms. Pool concierge even sanitize towels and attempt to limit groups from gathering by reducing pool deck furniture and service at swim-up bars has been temporarily eliminated. 

Housekeepers balance adding evidence of disinfected items (sticker seals on doors, room phones, and television remote controls) with removing as many non-essential items as possible (room service menus, notepads and pens, and in some cases – all of the contents of the minibar).

And as you could expect, technology is being further leveraged to provide contact-free solutions. New and improved apps allow guests to request room service, schedule gym reservations, review on-site activities, and have keyless entry into their guestroom. 

The impressive list of meticulous enhancements goes on and on. While there are indeed many changes and restrictions, the spirit of hospitality has not wavered. Welcoming smiles and urges to creatively meet guest needs are more prevalent than ever. However, we must also pay attention to the less tangible shift hotels are facing. They have made a monumental transition in how they live out their values. The same vigor and care hotels dedicate to defining their five-star service standards have now been applied to how they detail their strategies for guest safety. As a result, hotels are needing to restructure their value system, and at times – prioritizing safety ahead of service.

This makes a lot of sense right now, and I for one am very thankful for it. But it is important to recognize that it can come at an expense to experience. What may have been a refreshing, lemon-scented hand towel upon arrival is now a masked greeter offering a mandatory splash of sanitizer. That nice welcome amenity of chilled champagne has been replaced (most hotels are not allowing room deliveries at this time) with a bedside wellness kit of facemasks and antibacterial wipes. While these generous gestures are essential for traveler safety and confidence, they can simultaneously remove the special touches of personalization and warmth we in hospitality hold so dear.

As meetings leaders, we have a unique opportunity to re-imagine how we usher in the next era of events. We must ask ourselves: how do we re-introduce personalization to this contactless, sanitized model of service delivery? Because there is one thing we know for sure – the relationships and experiences this industry creates and thrives on are the farthest thing from sterile.


Sincere thanks to UNICO 20°87°Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach CancunLive Aqua Beach Resort CancunDreams Vista Cancun Resort & Spa, and Paradisus Playa del Carmen for so graciously sharing your newly opened resorts with me. Gracias por todo mis amigos!

Congratulations on all of the ways you are safely welcoming guests back. We are so lucky and thrilled to have partners who are prioritizing the safety and health of our guests. You have moved mountains to re-open. On behalf of Team Achieve, thank you for your hard work, and know we are so excited for the future of events with you and our whole hospitality family.


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