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Get a Room: Restaurant and Hotel Occupancy in the Age of COVID-19

How can the hospitality industry best prepare for its first wave of guests following pandemic-related city shutdowns?



May 28, 2020

Growing societal concerns connected to the COVID-19 pandemic have placed significant, and potentially devastating, pressures on the world economy and its ability to conduct business as usual. The hospitality industry has arguably been among the most seriously impacted; many restaurants are shuttered, hotel bookings are at an all-time low, and stay-at-home legislation has thrust the industry into a tailspin.

As certain regions begin to relax restrictive shelter-in-place guidelines, and we all begin to accept social distancing as a cultural norm, hoteliers are now considering how they can prepare to reopen. IBI Group has designed hospitality venues for decades, and with our clients’ needs in mind, we’ve prepared a list of considerations to assist in the reopening of hotels and dining spaces the world over.

Reopening a hotel or restaurant in response to loosened government restrictions should be considered carefully and in conjunction with the following:

  1. Have dining facilities been modified to support social distancing? Have safe seating arrangements and shared spaces for guests and staff been created?
  2. Have staff been trained on new sanitation guidelines related to hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks?
  3. Are essential services (trash, recycling, food supplies, etc.) available to support the facility at its optimal capacity?
  4. Have comprehensive hygiene plans been prepared and posted throughout the space to encourage consumer confidence and ensure employee safety?
  5. How have front-desk processes been amended to support social distancing measures, including booking, check-in and check-out?
  6. Has informational content been prepared that will ensure guests are aware of new processes and how their behaviour can contribute to the maintenance of a healthy property?

Creating new processes, in part via the use of existing technologies, could also go a long way toward enhancing safety and hygiene plans. Areas for further consideration could include touchless check-in, elevator access and room entry, UV-light luggage passthroughs, and anti-microbial surface coatings. Considering the flow and exchange of air, as well as its relative humidity, is also central to the health and safety of hotel guests and staff. Reviewing mechanical systems to enhance air exchanges, utilizing a downward flow of air in elevator cabs to push contaminants down, and including operable windows in guest rooms could support the continued deterrence of the virus in shared spaces.

Social distancing measures, including maintaining a distance of six feet between people, making hand sanitizer readily available in public spaces, and ensuring that health and hygiene signage in high-traffic areas is easy to access will have a new and important impact on every hotelier’s ability to provide a safe and consumer-confident experience.

Headshot of Joe Pettipas

Written by Joe Pettipas

Director | Interior Design Lead, Buildings
Toronto, ON
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