THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN the airline and hotel industries has always been clear. Now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a blending of products from one industry to the other offering better protection for travelers.
Florida hotelier Willie Singh is co-founder of the newly created Guestcare Solutions, providing personal protection equipment in a kit previously used by airlines to hotel guests. Another new company will offer a disinfecting agent initially used to decontaminate commercial aircraft to hotels that can be more effective than current cleaning agents.
The new welcome basket
Singh, who owns a Days Inn by Wyndham and a TravelLodge by Wyndham in the Orlando, Florida, area, told Asian Hospitality in June that it was his work as a consultant that led to his involvement with Guestcare Solutions.
“As a hotelier, I see both sides of the fence and as a hotelier we kind of know what the hotel needs and what price point works for them and that’s how that experience came in handy into launching this venture,” Singh said. “I was going into different hotels and talking to different clients and kind of figured that this was a product that was going to be required in the new normal.”
The idea for the specific product to be offered by Guestcare Solutions, which launched on May 27, came from Singh’s partner, Steve Blidner founder & CEO of TTI Technologies. One of the technologies Blidner’s company previously sold to hotels were flight information boards to hang in the lobby.
“The person that I was dealing with at this company that we used to buy the flight information feed from is in the airline business. He put me in touch with a company called Global C,” Blidner said. “They kind of got ahead of the game weeks ago and developed these packets to sell to major airlines.”
The kits include a mask, hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipe in a sealed package. About 30 hotels have already entered agreements to buy the kits to distribute free to guests as they come in, Blidner said, in much the same way hotels currently give out toothbrushes and other toiletries to guests who need them.
It’s up to the hotels whether they want to charge the guests for the kit, but Blidner and Singh said that defeats the purpose of attracting more guests by making them feel welcome. Indeed, some brands are mandating that such kits be made available, Singh said.
“This package fits right in there because it’s in control of the guests,” he said. “He opens the package so it’s not been touched, it’s not been contaminated.”
Singh said the company has sold about 150,000 kits to hotels and they are hoping to see an uptick in sales during the winter and holidays.
“In our next batch of the kits, the disposable masks are now individually wrapped, which will appeal much more to the millennial travelers that are going to be a big part of the short term uptick in the travel market,” he said. “We have also added individually wrapped disinfecting wipes and 1oz bottles of hand sanitizer gel to our line of products along with other COVID-19 and hygiene related products.”
Guestcare Solutions also is planning to expand into non-hotel markets as well.
Flight Certified is another company offering products to hotels that were developed for use in the airline industry. The company claims its cleaning agent, Calla 1452, has been shown to be 75-90 percent more effective than current hotel industry decontamination and disinfection standards.
“Guests want the comfort of knowing their hotel stay is protected against COVID-19 and are keenly aware of the process and chemical’s effectiveness on airplanes,” said Gene Spaziani, Flight Certified president. “Initial tests show that Calla 1452 is less costly than the recently introduced brand standard products and is much faster to apply, helping to contain labor costs. Furthermore, utilizing our trained team of experts frees up hotel staff to handle their core jobs while allowing owners the comfort of knowing that the disinfection process has been carried out thoroughly and properly.”
The fact that Calla 1452 is dispersed with electrostatic sprayers allows it to be used effectively with one quarter the amount of disinfectant, according to the company. Flight Certified has tested the product to provide documentation of effectiveness for third-party review.
“Calla 1452 was tested in multiple hotels across the country, from Virginia to Texas to Wisconsin,” said Dr. Roger Shedlin, Flight Certified co-founder. “Calla 1452 was proven to be completely safe for all hotel FF&E surfaces and materials, compared to other disinfectant/decontamination products which contain bleach, peroxide and other corrosive chemicals which can damage fabric, wood, carpet, leather, marble and other surfaces.”
In those tests, the new disinfectant was applied following the four test hotels’ brand standards in a “disinfected/decontaminated” room. One of those test hotels was the Crowne Plaza Arlington in Arlington, Virginia, owned by Equinox Hospitality.
“Following a second disinfecting of the same test room at our Crowne Plaza Arlington by the Flight Certified team, there was an 88.7 percent reduction of contaminants on all surfaces,” said Sam Suleman, Equinox Hospitality principal and executive vice president. “From our understanding, the Flight Certified team can confirm that a room is free of viruses once they have completed their protocols, and they’re able to do so in a faster manner than we could previously. Being able to convey this level of decontamination to guests will provide us with an even safer hotel product and give us a competitive advantage in attracting COVID-19-wary guests.”
Underlining the importance of new cleaning protocols in the hotel industry, in early October Hersha Hotels and Resorts announced that its “Rest Assured” program implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has seen some success.