Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and many hotels are still struggling to reopen and fill rooms. Travelers remain anxious about staying healthy while hitting the road, and many are reluctant to spend their hard-earned dollars while facing the unexpected.

Marriott
Marriott has rolled out a new “What To Expect” feature to keep guests informed about upcoming stays during COVID-19. (Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES

To ease travelers’ minds, the major hotel chains have put comprehensive (and well-publicized) cleaning and sanitation protocols in place. Marriott launched the Global Cleanliness Council, enlisting both in-house and outside experts to overhaul housekeeping, engineering and food safety among other facets of its business. Hyatt’s new Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment features an accreditation process for sanitization practices overseen by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. For its part, Hilton’s CleanStay initiative highlights its partnership with RB, the maker of Lysol and Dettol, to help keep properties spic and span.

Behind the scenes, though, Marriott has also been working on what just may be the most useful new resource for customers looking to book a stay. The chain has developed individual “What To Expect” pages for most of its properties with information on cleaning procedures, available amenities, and dining options. This should make it easier for prospective guests to determine whether certain services, like housekeeping, fitness centers, executive lounges, or dine-in meals will be available during their trip. The new pages are an extremely helpful guide to information that can change frequently as local regulations are alternately enacted and rolled back, and facility closures can vary dramatically from hotel to hotel.

To take advantage of the new “What To Expect” pages, customers can simply visit the website of the specific hotel they are interested in. They should find links to both general travel guidance and the property’s individual COVID-19 updates in a hard-to-miss red box just under the fields to input stay dates. For instance, the JW Marriott Chicago’s page has the following information current at time of publication.

JW Marriott Chicago
The JW Marriott Chicago has a What To Expect page with details for travelers on housekeeping, amenities, and services. MARRIOTT

Daily housekeeping is available on request on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or if a specific day is requested, as well as after each three nights of a stay. Guests can also express different preferences, or opt out of housekeeping altogether. Staff and guests are required to wear personal face coverings in all public areas. Guests can also use the indoor swimming pool, spa services and fitness center in compliance with lower capacity caps. The hotel’s Florentine restaurant is open from 6:00am – 10:00pm daily with reduced capacity and social distancing in place.

For comparison’s sake, the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel is a popular option with travelers on quick layovers in and out of this New York-area hub. The hotel currently has the following information on its “What To Expect” page. Staff will wear PPE based on the guidelines set forth by local authorities while guests are required to wear face coverings in all public areas. Those who wish to receive housekeeping will have to let guest services know. Otherwise, the hotel will automatically clean rooms after every sixth night of a stay. The hotel’s fitness center is currently closed, as are its lounges, and its airport shuttle is operating on a modified schedule with face coverings required. As for food and beverage, guests can still enjoy the Coffee Bar from 6:00am – 1:00pm daily, and takeout only from the Ironbound restaurant from 1:00pm – 8:00pm daily. Indoor dining is not available, and there is only limited outdoor seating.

Many Marriott properties, not just in the U.S., but also internationally, seem to have “What To Expect” pages up and running at this point. Hopefully the ones that don’t yet should come online soon. While much of the information contained on them will probably be disappointing to guests with stays in the near future – including restaurant and gym closures – having concrete information on what will be available and what will not during a trip is far better than arriving with a sense of uncertainty and hoping for the best. Or getting to a hotel and having to ring the front desk every time you have a question about a specific service.

Although it probably required a tremendous amount of work to get operational, Marriott’s “What To Expect” resource is a great, simple, easy-to-use feature. It should not only help Marriott loyalists with their booking decisions, but perhaps also win new customers who are grasping for any means of staying informed about their travel plans during these uncertain times. With any luck, the other major hotel chains will follow suit and launch similar features for their properties.

Forbes

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