The middle of April has brought an unwanted milestone with the World Health Organization (WHO) announcing that there have now been one million coronavirus deaths in Europe. As summer approaches there, bringing with it hopes of sun-kissed holidays and faraway adventures, this news will be a huge blow to many travellers.
Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, has reported that there are “early signs that transmission may be slowing across several countries”, including the UK, and a “declining incidence” among older age groups amid the roll-out of vaccines.
Countries in Europe not faring so well include Spain, with a fourth wave now taking hold, but it’s not all doom and gloom. While infection rates are rising in most of the country’s regions, they’re falling in Valencia, Galicia and Murcia, where the pandemic is more under control.
And despite a pause in the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine due to blood clotting concerns, Spanish authorities are stepping up the vaccination effort.
It’s hardly surprising. Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country welcomed 83.7 million tourists in 2019 alone. Home to avant-garde architecture, bewitching beaches and delightful dishes, it’s a traveller’s dream.
But the pandemic is impacting all businesses that provide lodging services across the country, irrespective of size. From hotels to serviced apartments, holiday-lets to hostels, every business is working on plans to ease the post-lockdown anxiety of potential guests.
The Airbnb Story
Not many businesses come bigger than Airbnb. Founded in 2008, the company offers over 7 million places of accommodation across the globe, all powered by local hosts. With more than three-quarters of a billion guest arrivals during its time, Airbnb is accessible in over 220 countries and regions, including Spain.
And just like every other hospitality business, Airbnb has had to ensure its hygiene-savvy guests are better protected without compromising on service and guest experience. That’s why Airbnb teamed up with the global leader in hygiene services and pest control, Rentokil Initial, to maintain high standards of hygiene and ensure maximum protection for its guests in Spain.
Rentokil Initial’s integrated hygiene solutions help hosts to take care of their guests and safeguard their properties. Mónica Casañas, General Director of Airbnb Marketing Services, said: “Cleanliness has always been a determining aspect to offer the best experience to our guests, but now, it has a special importance due to the entire health crisis generated by COVID-19.
“This agreement with Rentokil Initial will help facilitate hygiene and prevention tasks for our hosts and guarantee maximum safety for our guests, thus demonstrating Airbnb’s commitment to everyone’s health.”
As disinfection services partner for Airbnb across Spain, Rentokil Initial provides services to eliminate any trace of viruses and other contaminating agents from a host’s accommodation with the professional application of disinfectant products that are approved by the Ministry of Health.
After successful treatment, the host obtains a Certificate of Disinfection to certify that the accommodation complies with all safety and hygiene measures.
“We’re happy to offer all our experience in environmental disinfection to a company like Airbnb,” said Jacinto Diez, Communication Director at Rentokil Initial Spain, “which is helping to revive tourism, one of the pillars of the economy in our country. We’re sure that our work will increase the trust of thousands of guests throughout Spain.”
This agreement is part of Airbnb’s new campaign to boost proximity tourism and the travel industry after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as of 20 November 2020, based on guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all Airbnb hosts and guests will be required to adhere to mandatory enhanced cleaning procedures. Hosts that fail to do so risk being suspended from the platform.
Hygiene advice for holiday lettings businesses
If you’re a holiday-let business owner, having mandatory cleaning procedures in place will allow guests to feel safe, relax and enjoy their break. Preparation is a key factor, so you’ll need to ensure:
- existing health risks have been identified and addressed;
- measures and solutions are in place to guard against transmission of germs;
- a protocol is in place as a response to confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Here are four essential ways to reassure guests that hygiene and safety are your priority.
1.Good hand hygiene
Washing hands regularly helps to reduce and remove potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. Our research shows that fingertips and thumbs often get missed during hand washing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice — and then rinsing and drying properly. You can find more information here.
At the very least, your accommodation needs to have the right provisions in place so that your guests can practise good hand hygiene in the first place. The washroom should be clean and well-stocked with the appropriate products, equipment and consumables that encourage good hygiene practices, and because wet hands can spread more bacteria than dry hands, don’t forget suitable hand-drying methods.
2. Disinfection services
Disinfection solutions from Rentokil for regular deep-cleans or for when you have suspected cases of COVID-19 ensure high levels of hygiene and return your property to operational safety quickly. Our professional disinfection service teams use the highest level of PPE and comply with safety regulations at all times.
- Surface disinfectants can protect from contamination for 24 hours, cleaning all the key touchpoints and surfaces in the property.
- For rapid disinfection of larger areas, ultra-low volume (ULV) disinfection fogging can be used, reaching areas that may be difficult to access by manual cleaning methods.
3. Ventilation and air care solutions
Air hygiene is a crucial factor in protecting people in indoor environments to prevent transmission of COVID-19. That’s because respiratory infections such as COVID-19 are considered to be transmitted by virus-containing respiratory particles.
Research shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce your risk of infection from particles by over 70%, as fresh air dilutes the particles. To improve air quality and protect guests, holiday-let owners should try the following measures.
- Provide a suitable air filtration system and maintain filters properly.
- Ensure windows are open for regular periods throughout the day and encourage staff to open them when outdoor air quality is acceptable.
- Maintain humidity at levels that limit the growth of pathogens and are conducive to health and wellbeing.
Initial’s range of air care solutions provide guests and staff reassurance that the air they’re breathing is safe.
4. Sanitisation of surfaces and appliances
Keeping furniture and surfaces clean and maintaining the right personal hygiene standards to protect guests can be a challenge. Risk hotspots with the greatest degree of cross-contamination include:
- door handles and handrails on stairs
- furniture, equipment and surfaces in areas such as lounges and bathrooms
- food preparation areas, kitchens and dining rooms
A range of sprays and surface wipes are available that can kill pathogens and prevent cross-contamination. Some surface sanitiser spray for large surface areas and surface wipes can even provide up to 24-hour protection.
Following our hygiene advice will help you to stop the spread of germs, reassure guests and demonstrate high hygiene standards.