Reopening Hotels Sustainably: Verbal and Visual Reassurance Key

Author: Martin Sanchez-Locreille 



Challenges & Opportunities in Hospitality


Coronavirus has posed a serious challenge to the hospitality industry. In the early stages of the pandemic, many hotels either closed down or faced reduced occupancy rates. As a result, Innovation Lighthouse looked for ways of helping such hotels get back on track in a safe and sustainable manner. We teamed up with four hotels - QO, The Student Hotel, Meininger and Stayokay - to find cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions to ensure a comforting experience for guests during these times of uncertainty. As part of the project, we conducted surveys with guests across the four hotels to find out how they really feel about the situation, and what they expect hotels to do in response. These insights have helped all four hotels to adapt accordingly, and thus provide their guests with a feeling of security and satisfaction.


Insights from 200 guests at 4 hotels in the Netherlands

What did we learn from these 200+ guests we surveyed? At the beginning of the project, guests were primarily concerned with hotels implementing extra cleaning and sanitation services, as well as proper communication about actions taken against the virus spread. Discomfort generally came from lack of cleanliness, unclear distancing measures and masks not being worn by staff. At the end of the project, we noticed overall positive responses to the solutions implemented across the 4 hotels over the 3-month duration of the project.


From this data we found that verbal and visual communication to guests is highly important, and therefore hotels should look to implement both in their COVID-19 measures. From June to September, guests also indicated which policies made them feel most comfortable during their hotel stay, such as: visual information (70-75%), staff behavior (62-69%), and 1.5m distancing messages (49-56%). These three elements remained the most important over the course of three months.


Another positive trend is that guests indicated they are interested in sustainability - whether it be learning more about the hotels’ sustainability initiatives, or participating themselves in reducing waste and taking shorter showers. While the data shows improvement, guests are nonetheless still concerned about people gathering in lobbies and other shared spaces. With the hospitality sector being particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, it is crucial to stay on top of guest expectations, and ensure a safe, comfortable and sustainable stay for all.

Want to know more?


Visit our project page to learn more about how we provided our partners with sustainable solutions to the COVID-19 crisis, or contact our Projects Lead Kelsey Wilson  for additional in-depth insights. We'll also be launching a guide for hotel operators and CSR managers with more in-depth info.