|A housekeeper uses ultraviolet technologies to disinfect biological matter in a guestroom.
MINNEAPOLIS—As more people rely on disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers, being germ-free is a priority, which is why Best Western International is taking clean to a new level.
The brand announced Wednesday a technological cleaning initiative it expects will set a new standard for cleanliness in hotels.
“Going back 10 years ago, if a customer walked into a hotel room and the carpet was clean and the bedspreads were clean, they said, ‘Oh, the room’s clean.’ Today, they walk in there with the thought of, ‘This room probably isn’t clean, so where’s the evidence that that statement is then true,’” said Ron Pohl, senior VP of brand management and member services for Best Western.
The brand’s new initiative, which already has been rolled out in 700 Best Western properties throughout North America, will implement the following procedures and items in the housekeeping process:
- ultraviolet inspection black lights used to uncover any biological matter or food particles undetectable by the human eye;
- ultraviolet sterilization wands, which sterilize frequently-touched items in the hotel, such as telephones, clocks, light switches and door handles;
- clean TV remotes, designed specifically to allow for disinfection; and
- pillow and blankets wrapped in single-use wraps.
The addition of the new procedures is not designed to replace standard cleaning practices, Pohl said. It is meant to be an additional tool.
Ron Pohl, senior VP of brand management and member services for Best Western
The introduction of the technologies will add several more minutes to the 30 minutes it takes a housekeeper to clean one room. This makes a greater focus on high-touch areas critical, Pohl said.
Hotels in North America that have not yet fully incorporated the technologies into their housekeeping programs are expected to do so by year end.
All hotels are being trained by specialty trainers sent by the corporate office, Pohl said. Although half of the training is done at a regional level, “the actual implementation has to come at a property level,” he said.
From a corporate standpoint, Best Western invested anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in the new cleanliness program, which the brand has been developing for two years, Pohl said.
Implementing the program at a property level will cost each hotel several thousand dollars.
As for marketing the new initiative to consumers, Pohl said the brand’s “goal is to really do this in a more subtle way.”
There is evidence of the thorough cleaning process in the rooms when the guest walks in, he said. The TV remote labeled “clean remote” enclosed in a recyclable mesh bag is one of them.
Guests already are noticing, Pohl said. Although the program has not yet been announced to the public, Best Western is receiving positive feedback on guest surveys and social-media sites.
The Best Western Plus Bloomington in Minnesota was one of the top-rated hotel in the brand’s system with a quality assurance, rating of 965 out of 1,000 last September. On its most recent QA evaluation since the property had implemented the technological cleaning initiative, its score rose to 994.
“That’s really the impact that this has,” Pohl said.