- Tuesday, 12 June 2012 08:53
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Don't be surprised if the housekeepers look like the forensic aliens out of CSI Miami the next time you stay at a Best Western hotel in the US.
Best Western is on the attack against mystery stains and microorganisms. Its army is a battalion of housekeepers supplied with an array of microbe search and destroy armaments.
In response to what it says is travellers' obsession for cleanliness, the chain is equipping its housekeeping soldiers with equipment you'd most likely see on the forensic investigation TV series: black lights to detect biological matter otherwise unseen by the human eye and ultraviolet light wands to zap it.
Best Western International will be using new cleaning technology at its 2100 properties in North America by the end of the year.
The company is operating a new cleaning program, I Care Clean that will be using the advanced cleaning technology employed in hospitals to maintain a sanitised environment. The program includes ultra violet sterilisation wands; UV inspection black lights; clean remote controls or wraps for remote control devices (there's even an app that allows guests to control the TV using your smartphone in lieu of the remote); single-use pillow and blanket wraps (extra pillows, blankets and towels are encased in 100% recyclable and biodegradable single use wraps to ensure guests know that these products have been cleaned just for them) and many other measures.
But it's also reacting to the times, in which supermarkets place hand sanitisers in visible places for germ-obsessed customers.
"People also have become more skeptical about cleanliness because of headlines about E coli, norovirus and bird flu," maintains Ron Pohl, a Best Western vice president. "It used to be that you walked into a guest room and saw a stain on the carpet, you'd think the room's dirty. Today, guests don't see any stains but they still question how clean the room is."
At the Best Western Plus in Tempe, the black lights have changed the way housekeepers clean because they highlight bacteria in places that may not otherwise be cleaned, says owner Rich Schnakenberg. The corner of a bathroom vanity, for instance, may now get extra attention.
The addition of the new procedures is not designed to replace standard cleaning practices, Mr Pohl stressed. "It is meant to be an additional tool. 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," he said.
All hotels are being trained by specialty trainers sent by the corporate office, according to Mr Pohl. 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 has invested anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in the new cleanliness program, which the brand has been developing for two years. Implementing the program at a property level will cost each hotel several thousand dollars.
In addition to implementing the cleaning program, Best Western is also exploring a "collaborative service" program for housekeeping to better serve its guests and their unique needs. Research 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 choose the time they want their room cleaned and the level of service they would like performed.