Best Western attacks the dirt you can’t see
PHOENIX—Last month, a study unveiled at the American Society of Microbiology revealed that the dirtiest objects in hotel rooms were TV remotes, lamp switches and items on housekeeping carts—along with the toilet and bathroom sink.
But Best Western International was already on the case long before the well-publicized study. Beginning in 2010, they worked with think-tank and market research firms IDEO and Booz & Company, and determined that service was no longer the No. 1 priority; that cleanliness was foremost in guests’ minds.
Working to address customer expectations regarding levels of cleanliness, they took a page from hospitals, and started looking for bacteria with more advanced cleaning technologies such as black light and UV wands.
And like the University of Houston, Purdue University and the University of South Caroline authors of the ASM study, they determined that the high touch points in hotel rooms were telephones, clocks, light switches, door handles, bathroom fixtures and common areas that can be hard to clean with traditional cleaning supplies.
“We tested these technologies in four hotels in and around the Phoenix area,” said Ron Pohl, senior vice president, Brand Management & Member Services for Best Western International. Without saying anything to customers—although they could see housekeeping teams with black lights and UV wands—there were significant increases in overall hotel cleanliness and guest satisfaction.” And these were hotels that were already performing very well.
Scores for those four hotels included a 13.3 per cent increase in ‘overall experience,’ a 12 per cent increase in ‘cleanliness of room’ and 12.4 per hike in ‘intent to recommend.’
Now Best Western International is rolling out its “I Care Clean” program throughout 2012, bringing these advanced cleaning technologies to the more than 2,100 Best Western hotels in North America.
“I’m pleased to say that the adoption rate [for Best Western’s almost 200 hotels in Canada] is right up there, with three quarters of hotels having it in place,” Pohl added.
Housekeeping staff will be using the following tools to clean guest rooms and common areas:
o Ultraviolet (UV) sterilization wands to sterilize high touch points such as telephones, clocks, light switches,
o UV inspection black lights to detect any biological matter, food particles, and more, that the human eye cannot see.
o Clean remotes or wraps for the remote control device—designed to make it easy to clean and disinfect before each guest stay.
o Single-use, recyclable, biodegradable wraps for extra pillows, blankets and towels to ensure guests know that these products have been cleaned just for them.
Best Western-led research also showed that its guests at times perceive housekeeping as an inconvenience during their stay. Given this, the brand is building a “collaborative service” process so guests can fill out a card choosing the time they want their room cleaned (morning or afternoon) and the level of service they would like performed.
“They can choose to have the room completely cleaned, partially cleaned or ‘don’t bother me,’” said Pohl, adding that almost 40 per cent selected a reduced level of cleaning.