When it comes to hotels, I do my best to convince myself the room is clean. But is there really any way to know for sure? The bed is made, the floors are vacuumed, and everything is in its place, so in order to get a good night’s rest, I have to tell myself that it really is clean. Best Western is now responding to the growing concern around cleanliness in hotels and is taking a new approach to the cleaning process as it rolls out its new “I Care Clean” program throughout 2012. Using advanced cleaning technologies such as UV wands on “high touch point” areas and UV inspection black lights to detect any biological matter, Best Western is hoping to increase consumer confidence through a more precise and dedicated cleaning method. According to Ron Pohl, Best Western senior vice president of brand management, “We are unlocking the potential of the housekeeping profession by providing new tools and training to help ensure customer satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately trust.” In addition to sterilizing UV lights, the process also includes wrapping remote controls, pillows, blankets, and towels in sealed plastic to show that they are cleaned from one guest to the next.
This effort is in response to research from IDEO and Booze and Company that revealed that cleanliness is one of the most important priorities to guests at midscale hotels, and that there has been a general lack of confidence in hotel cleanliness within the mid-scale hotel market. According to a recent press release from Best Western, these research results also showed that guests find housekeeping to be an inconvenience during their stay. Best Western has responded to this by also working on a “collaborative service” process so guests can choose the time they want their room cleaned (morning or afternoon) and the level of service they would like performed.
I think this is a worthwhile venture, and one that might increase consumer confidence to see hotels taking cleanliness seriously, but it still leaves a lot of room for uncertainty. Just because I am taking a pillow out of a plastic bag, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily clean. But I do appreciate the effort and I think it will go a long way for a mid-scale hotel chain such as Best Western.