Predicting where the travel industry sits in the COVID-19 curve is not an easy task. Some reports don’t foresee a return to pre-COVID levels of travel for many years to come, if ever, while more optimistic projections are forecasting that 2021 will be a strong year for some overseas destinations. The myriad of factors involved in choosing a suitable country to visit as we stand today is doing little to bolster consumer confidence, together with regionalised lockdowns continuing to hamper UK staycation traffic.
One certainty is that a recovery will come at some point – airport testing would help to support this in the short term and once a reliable vaccine is available, those with a pent-up desire to flee our shores for better weather and the countless joys of exploring other countries brings, will be able to do so more freely once again. However, there are bound to be rules, restrictions, enhanced hygiene requirements and an even greater importance on travel safety for a long time to come.
‘Hygiene Security’ is likely to be majorly important for all travellers when making decisions on where to visit in the short to medium term. Holidaymakers booking a package holiday through a tour operator will want to know they and their families are going to be safe, business travellers arranging travel through a travel management company will need to evaluate the risks involved with making the trip versus the business reward, as they ultimately always do, but with the added risk of COVID-19 present.
Whilst we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus by managing our own personal hygiene, there is now more scrutiny than ever on the cleaning and safety standards of all elements of the journey and the suppliers who provide them. Given the nature and complexity involved with controlling COVID-19, making any kind of guarantees that a traveller will not catch the virus is virtually impossible, however there are increasing amounts of information available to help with decision making at all levels.
International Travel Safety Protocols
The World Travel and Tourism Council is helping destinations achieve their ‘Safe Travel Protocols’ badge, Governments around the world are providing hygiene certification programmes for their accommodation, transportation, activities and hospitality suppliers to undertake and hotel brands themselves are also putting in place their own standards based on World Health Organisation and other expert medical and safety advice.
The common goal for these endeavours is to reassure travellers that adequate hygiene procedures are in place and to increase confidence that best practice safety protocols are being adopted consistently across all stages of the journey.
There is a danger of confusing the traveller with too much detail and some brands have appeared to use the need to provide information with an opportunity to create an additional USP for their product; indeed, claims of how forensically clean hotel bedrooms are in a post-COVID environment begs the question how clean they were before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Accommodating Travel Safety Without Ruining the Fun
The focus on hygiene security will benefit all travellers as standards are reviewed and enhanced. From internationally recognised household names all the way through to privately-owned holiday lets, accommodation providers especially are having to ensure they can demonstrate that all areas of their operations are running with enhanced hygiene practices in place.
Advance communication to guests, visual and verbal reminders of the regulations, deeper levels of cleaning and specialist staff training are all becoming the norm, however the properties who will reinstate confidence in their guests most quickly will be those who can balance these critical needs with maintaining a level of experience – holidays need to be fun and business meetings interactive and productive. Being creative with space and resources to enable guests to fully enjoy and value their time whilst upholding hygienic practices will be key.
Certificate of International Good Practice Accreditation
Through our ongoing work for UK tour operators and International travel suppliers, Sanderson Phillips are in a unique position to advise all stakeholders on best practice COVID-19 travel safety standards. As well as a rapidly-increasing database of hotels meeting COVID-19 minimum safety standards, we have partnered with Global Secure Accreditation to create a Certificate of International Good Practice Accreditation, which – if successful – provides hotels with a certificate from our independent awarding body, SFJ Awards. This unique arrangement supports hotels to meet a rigorous standard in COVID-19 preparedness, which is then independently accredited by a recognised awarding authority. Bespoke risk assessments are also available to audit accommodation, transport and excursions suppliers as well as consultancy services to accommodation providers looking to ensure they have best-practice procedures in place.
If your hotel brand is looking for an independent and rigorous assessment of its COVID-19 practices in order to receive a recognised and regulated accreditation, contact us today.