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Hotels Up Their Game on Cleaning Protocols

National  + Weekender  | 

By Paul Bubny

Arguably the hardest-hit commercial property sector in terms of economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic—only brick-and-mortar retail comes close—the hotel industry is responding proactively to the issue of rebuilding public confidence.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) recently launched “Safe Stay,” an initiative focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols. Individual brands—including Airbnb, along with long-established names such as Hilton and Marriott International—will be introducing their own programs in the coming weeks.

“Every hotel guest and employee should know that their health and safety are our top priority,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “Safe Stay represents a new level of focus for an industry already built on cleanliness. Hotels have always had rigorous standards for cleaning and safety. With Safe Stay we are enhancing these standards to help create peace of mind. When travel resumes, hotels will be ready to safely welcome back the traveling public.”

AHLA said it had convened the Safe Stay Advisory Council of industry leaders, who represent all segments of the hotel industry. They’ll work in conjunction with public health experts, scientists, and medical leaders to develop a series of best practices for the industry, including the following:
♣ Enhanced cleaning standards throughout the hotel, including guest rooms, meeting spaces, common areas, and back-of-house spaces
♣ Superior cleaning products with a greater concentration of bacteria-killing ingredients, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines
♣ Social distancing practices and reducing person-to-person contact

Although Hilton is a participant in the Safe Stay program, it plans to roll out its own initiative at its 6,100 properties worldwide. The McLean, VA-based lodging giant said its Hilton CleanStay with Lysol protection will be “a rigorous system that incorporates RB’s trusted know-how and scientific approach to cleaning practices and product offerings. Experts from Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control team will advise and assist in enhancing Hilton’s cleaning and disinfection protocols.”

Similarly, Marriott has created the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council to tackle the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic at the hotel level and further advance the company’s efforts in this area. The council is chaired by Ray Bennett, who heads global operations at Marriott, and will benefit from “knowledge and input from both in-house and outside experts including senior leaders from across Marriott disciplines like housekeeping, engineering, food safety, occupational health and associate well-being,” the company said.

“We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority,” said Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen. “It’s equally important to us that our associates know the changes we are making to help safeguard their health as they serve our guests.”

On the home-sharing side, Airbnb is launching the new Cleaning Protocol, with enhanced procedures and guidance on how to clean every room in a home. The guidelines will include a learning and certification program, and guests will be able to identify and book accommodations included in this program soon after hosts enroll.

If hosts are unable to commit to Airbnb’s Cleaning Protocol, they can alternatively opt into a new feature called Booking Buffer, to create a vacancy period between stays. Hosts can commit to keeping their home empty for a set period in between stays, with no activity other than cleaning. Reservations will be automatically blocked during that time frame, currently set at 72 hours.

Pictured: A Hilton property undergoing the CleanStay protocol.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).