US: Jill Mason, founder and CEO of cloud-based vacation rental and housekeeping management software solution VRScheduler, outlines how property managers can enhance trust from their guests by implementing certain cleaning procedures, as well as the concepts that housekeepers can learn to build best practice habits for the future.
Guest concern with safety is a hurdle as travellers continue to enquire about cleaning procedures.
Matt Medeiros, a property manager in Washington State, has received cleaning questions on almost every booking in the last month, including this question about a luxury beachfront rental he rents through Airbnb.
He said: “We are interested in booking your house. Given the world that we now live in, can you tell us what your Covid-19 cleaning protocols are.”
But how property managers are learning and implementing new procedures vary widely. They are faced with an enormous amount of information from multiple sources. Research is still being produced around Covid-19 and how it is spread.
The result is constantly evolving guidelines from global agencies such as the World Health Organization [WHO] and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], and more. Even the boiled down five-page document by the Vacation Rental Management Association [VRMA] can leave property managers’ eyes glazed over and wondering where to start.
Additionally, budgets are tight. Companies are struggling to play catch up financially, running on less staff and cutting costs where possible.
Goals have shifted from growing profits year over year to simply keeping in the black. Professional cleaners are wary of the expense of high-tech methods like UV cleaning lights and new no-touch technology.
The good news is that studies show that washing hands correctly with soap and water kills 90 per cent of the pathogens, or germs, from Covid-19. Teaching staff to wash their hands and how to put on, remove and dispose of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves are inexpensive, effective ways of slowing the spread of any disease. These basic lessons should become common practice even after the pandemic eases.
We have gathered five basic concepts housekeepers [and anyone, really] can easily learn to build best practice habits for any future we face:
- Washing your hands is better than sanitising. Learn how to wash your hands properly and remember the five steps: Wet, lather, rub for 20 seconds, rinse, dry with a clean towel or air dry. When a sink is not nearby, hand sanitiser [60 per cent] can be used.
- Change gloves properly and wash your hands between a dirty task and a clean task. For example, put dirty linen in the washing machine, remove gloves correctly, then wash your hands, then take clean linen out of the dryer.
- Flush toilets with the lid closed and your face turned and as far away as possible. Although studies show Covid is most likely not passed through fecal matter, toilets can spread other diseases as well. This is a simple habit that can protect you from getting sick.
- Do not fluff or shake dirty linen. Bedding and towels can be damp and carry viruses from previous guests. Keep the viruses on the linen to be removed by the washing machine, instead of let loose in the air.
- Stay home when you are sick. If you have been sick, be sure that all three of the following items are true before going back to work:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours after your fever [100.4 degrees or higher] is gone without taking medicine.
- Other symptoms have improved.
- At least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
These five lessons are a great starting point for creating a more comprehensive staff training, and should be combined with current industry, regional and national guidelines. Managers should always check with their local health departments with questions and needed clarifications.
Properly trained staff and informed procedures will lead to slowing the spread of any disease. Property managers who can market and advertise staff training will be rewarded since guest trust around cleanliness and safety will surely be a factor when choosing a vacation rental for years to come.
The team behind VRScheduler recently launched a series of online cleaning certification courses to support the education and wellbeing of housekeepers and maintenance departments of vacation rentals, condos and boutique hotels.
Jill Mason is the founder and CEO of VRScheduler.com and CleaningCertification.com. She has been working with local agencies, customers and academics to create a program that includes courses for housekeepers and badges for property managers.