Here, are the tips for Reopening Your Bed and Breakfast.
The Bed and Breakfast industry has been challenged enormously during this COVID-19 global pandemic. We don’t always understand it, but there is a silver lining in everything so why not SHINE! People are ready to travel but we want to alleviate their fears and welcome them into our inn with the reassurance that we take their health and safety seriously.
Innkeepers can control their environment far more effectively than hotels, Airbnb & VRBO properties …You get the picture. The hotel and travel industry have developed minimum guidelines called Stay Safe, www.AHLA.com. As innkeepers, you can far surpass these minimum guidelines in an environment which can be closely controlled by the innkeeper. Rob and I are constantly researching what the industry is doing regarding travel during COVID-19.
Assess your current plan of action and cleaning regimen:
Innkeepers pride themselves on high attention to detail. Have hand sanitizers and hand wipes throughout the property: at front-desk, in all common areas, in all rooms, outside common areas. Check out ECOLAB’s resources to help protect employees and guests, www.ecolab.com, or check with your foodservice distributor. They may have better access to high demand supplies than your local Costco or grocery store.
Help your guests feel safe by having to seat a minimum of 6 feet, more if possible. Take advantage of outdoor seating as well. Perhaps move tables that are normally inside, to an area outside on a porch or patio. Spray upholstery regularly with a disinfectant and wipe any common area surfaces regularly. Have a cleaning schedule for those common areas to be sanitized. Your guests will greatly appreciate your effort to keep them safe.
Doorknobs, elevators, TV remotes, clocks, docking stations, front desk check-in area, entrance and exit doors, keypads. Have a schedule for wipe downs. Incorporate this into daily housekeeping duties.
Many guests may prefer that housekeepers do not enter their room during their stay. Have alternate services available such as room “bundles” which include daily fresh towels and other amenities your guests may need during their stay. Have laundry or plastic bags in their room for used towels that they can place outside of their door and you can replace them with fresh towels.
For those guests who would still like room service, ask that they are not present during this time. Have your housekeeping staff wear masks and disposable gloves that they use only while cleaning that room and dispose of immediately upon leaving the cleaned room. Know what the industry is recommending regarding the best cleaning products to achieve the highest level of sanitizing. You may want to suggest that your housekeepers have a pair of shoes to be worn only on the premise of the inn.
Deep Cleaning Plan of Action:
To ensure exposure to microbes is properly mitigated, identify what surfaces need to be cleaned, who is responsible for those areas, and specific sanitizing products to be used in those areas.
Have a plan of action to deep clean guestrooms.
We all want our inns to be a reflection of “us” particularly in our décor. COVID may have forever changed how we “dress” guestrooms. Consider retiring your custom comforters and bedspreads, pillow shams, and decorative pillows. You can achieve a great look by using white duvet covers and shams that can be laundered and sanitized after each guest checks out.
Have some fun! Offer your guests a mask with the inn’s name monogrammed on it. It’s a souvenir that your guests will continue to use even after leaving the inn. What a great way to advertise your Inn! Have these masks for your staff too. Make sure they are washable. There are many patterns available online at Joann.com and throughout Pinterest, if you are a sewer or know someone who can! If not, recruit some high school students looking for volunteer hours!
Innkeepers generally prepare breakfast for their guests. In this environment, you offer a safe kitchen and safe preparation. You are preparing food for a small number of guests rather than a restaurant in a hotel. Offer breakfast to be delivered to your guest’s room. Have an area set up in their room to enjoy breakfast? Guests can put their trays outside of the room when they are finished eating. If this is not possible, make sure to limit the number of guests you are serving breakfast to, so they feel comfortable coming into your common area. Try to have individual seating areas rather than a common table for dining and stagger serving times by taking reservations. Social Distancing is what you want to promote.
Offer your guests a list of restaurants that will deliver. So many restaurants are only open for curbside pickup or delivery. Again, have an area set up where your guests can enjoy a dinner delivered to them at the inn. Make it an experience. Include a dessert prepared at the inn or a bottle of wine to be served complimentary with their dinner. What a great way to support your local establishments too!
Liability & Waivers:
Lastly, but very important, it may be prudent to have your guests sign a waiver and release of liability form which protects inn owners from being sued should a guest become sick during their stay. When they check-in, have your SAFE STAY www.ahla.com practices in written format and have a waiver and liability release stating the inn is not responsible should a guest become sick during or following a stay at your inn.
Put your plan of action in place and make it known to your guests that you are doing whatever it takes to bring back guests to your inn and make them feel welcome in a clean and safe environment. There is no guarantee that COVID won’t strike, but let your guests know that you are doing everything to create a wonderful experience for them while keeping them as safe as possible. Ask that of your guests too. Encourage them to practice social distancing during their stay. Point out your policies that you’ve put in place to keep them and you as safe as possible while enjoying your inn.