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Why COVID-19 makes it important to Know Your Guest

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While the coronavirus pandemic has convinced many hotels and short-term rentals to close their doors, there are a few choosing to stay open. Those still operating have been forced to capitalize on every opportunity—whether that’s accepting higher-risk local guests or offering travellers a safe place to quarantine at a discounted rate. Either way, property managers are putting themselves and their properties at risk. During these uncertain times, to stay safe, it's imperative that you know your guests.

The ongoing threats

The coronavirus is causing economic turmoil, shutting down industries in the process. Hospitality, in particular, has been hit hard as we see countries enact restrictions on travel. As a result, active property managers are desperate for reservations, attempting to secure as many as possible. But the more guests they allow into their properties, the more health-related threats they face.

Cleaners and vendors risk being exposed to the virus with each new reservation. If they contract it, they could spread it across all of your properties, infecting the building and community, and bringing down your business in the process.

During circumstances like these, you want to maintain a reputation for being health and safety conscious. To do this, supply your cleaners and vendors with the appropriate supplies to keep themselves safe. And before sending them out, train them on proper disinfection techniques. It’s also a good idea to increase the frequency of deep cleans.

If you’re using your property for quarantine, or even hosting guests who may have been in contact with the virus, make sure every surface is sanitized. Instruct your team on the ground to wear the right gloves, handling and disposing of them properly. Use the right disinfectant products to guarantee your property is safe and sanitary, removing the risk to future guests.

Know Your Guest

The hospitality industry relies on hosts opening their doors to strangers. But these days, parties and property damage aren’t your only concerns. Without the necessary precautions, a reservation can cause more harm than good. During a pandemic, it’s especially important to know who you’re hosting.

In the banking industry, there’s a concept called Know Your Customer. In essence, it’s the process of verifying the identity of customers and assessing the risks associated with a potential business relationship. In the hospitality industry, we have Know Your Guest. In a moment of heightened risk, this practice is necessary to keep everyone safe.

For hoteliers and property managers in the short-term rental space, this involves learning about the guest’s travel history and health status. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the guest and ask them questions. As a host, it’s your responsibility to know the risks you face before accepting a reservation.

Using that information

In day-to-day operations, property managers need to take the necessary precautions to protect employees, vendors and future guests. In the face of a worldwide viral outbreak, short-term rentals and hotels need to be especially diligent.

Use the information you collect from the guest to better protect your operations. Research the severity of the outbreak in different countries, then find out whether your guest is traveling from a country under advisory. Ask them why they’re traveling and if they show any symptoms. By educating yourself on the guest and the current situation, you’ll be able to prepare for their checkout.

What Autohost recommends

Autohost equips hospitality providers with the information they need to make the most responsible decisions. We have now introduced a system that flags guests who are traveling from countries with travel advisories. We recommend using this information to build additional business processes, ensuring your cleaners, properties and employees stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

As an extra precaution, Autohost provides custom screens, which give property managers the freedom to ask guests relevant questions. This could include where the guest has traveled recently or if they’ve experienced any symptoms of the virus. To keep your team on the same page, we also allow users to leave notes next to a guest’s name. This alerts other team members to pertinent information concerning the guest.

It’s a difficult time in the hospitality industry, and each booking carries an element of risk. That’s why, at Autohost, we’re committed to helping hospitality providers reduce risk by knowing their guests, even on a global scale.

Please stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak and travel responsibly.