Enjoyable trips are growing – whether it’s high-wire leaves and Michelin-starred restaurants or personalized services and authentic experiences. But in the current climate, the concept of luxury has changed. Health and safety is now at the forefront, and high-end hotels and resorts are investing in programs and technologies to protect their employees and guests.
To stay relevant in this new era of luxury travel, Natalia Shuman, CEO of Bureau Veritas North America – a company that has specialized in testing, inspections and certifications for nearly 200 years – suggests that hotel companies and properties need to develop strict guidelines to address every aspect of the travel experience like never before.
“Defining procedures of excellence in safety, health and hygiene must be more than just a Check-the-Box exercise, but a complete change of culture.”- Natalia Shuman
“The leading hotel companies in the industry will apply these safety and hygiene measures effectively and inform guests before booking and arrival, but will also ensure that employees are properly trained and empowered to apply these new protocols,” Shuman told CEO magazine. “This could even extend to the development of new areas of work specifically devoted to health and safety.”
Travel agencies such as Small Luxury Hotels of The World and Million Stars Hotel have launched cleanliness and safety initiatives to help and support staff and ensure guest safety. Meanwhile, the luxury resort Raffles Bali has strengthened cleanliness protocols, improved staff training, introduced new measures in the area of customer contact and improved food safety standards.
Given the current climate, the brand new Ritz-Carlton, Nikko in Japan, was inaugurated with integrated cleanliness initiatives to protect the well-being of its guests, hotel staff and the community at large. With the support of Marriott International’s new commitment to clean protocols and standards, as well as enhanced real estate-specific technologies, guests can expect a first-rate level of security.
The new Ritz-Carlton hotel, located in the UNESCO-listed Nikko mountain region, also offers an individual breakfast instead of a buffet.
Western and Japanese breakfast is served in a wooden box and uses local produce for ingredients such as Japanese roast beef, eggs, fresh vegetables and strawberries.
“Hotels need to move beyond physical remoteness and PPE requirements, considering security strategies at every touchpoint, from rearranging furniture to control the flow of guests to cutting-edge technology to improve cleaning practices,” Shuman says.
“This is how booking systems in pools to control overcrowding, sneezing protection for food ads, elimination of municipal coffee and beverage stations, frequent temperature controls and a five-star contactless service, among other criteria.”
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recently launched its global Lead With Care initiative, a consulting agreement with Johns Hopkins Medicine International. In the meantime, Montage International has partnered with One Medical to provide customers and staff with digital health services 24 hours a 24. and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Accor Hotels, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Melia International have all teamed up with Bureau Veritas to certify the safe reopening of their global properties.
“Defining procedures of excellence in safety, health and hygiene must be more than just a Check-the-Box exercise, but a complete change of culture. Hotels are committed to making these issues central to their overall business operations,” says Shuman.
In the wake of recent times, Bureau Veritas has become a consumer-focused company. According to Shuman, The company is focused on reducing the risk and spread of recent times in communities through its “Restart your Business with BV” services and the “Safeguard Hygiene Excellence and Safety” Label.
“The recent times has once again highlighted the importance of a decentralized and agile operating model for businesses,” Shuman notes. “This approach has given Bureau Veritas the flexibility to develop and market new health and safety-focused products, as well as the ability to serve new market segments, such as hospitality and gaming, that have been heavily impacted by the recent times.”
This “new normal” was expected by travelers and will remain an essential part of the industry.
“As we all strive to revisit our favorite places and resorts, savvy travelers are looking for the certainty that hotels are doing everything to protect their health and well-being,” Shuman observes.
“The early experiences of travelers in the recent times era will undoubtedly influence future behavior and their likelihood of traveling, making it especially important for key industry players to have strategies developed and implemented.”