March is already low season for many hostels, but we think it’s safe to say most hostel owners are experiencing a lower season than normal due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Part of the Coronavirus disease strain, COVID-19 has infected more than 126,000 people and killed 4,600 in more than 118 countries, according to Al Jazeera. Countries all over the world are shutting their borders and issuing travel warnings, and consequently, many travelers are changing their travel plans.
Even though most of us don’t have many guests right now, it’s important that all of us as hostel owners and managers work extra hard during this pandemic to keep our guests feeling happy, safe, and good about their choice to stay with you during this difficult time.
Here’s some ideas we had about how you can do this at your hostel:
1. Take steps to lessen the possibility of getting COVID-19 in your hostel - clean EVERYTHING!
Obviously, in a hostel, there are many shared spaces that guests come in contact with. It’s essential to clean all shared spaces and surfaces with alcohol spray several times a day. Shared spaces and surfaces include, but are not limited to:
- Cabinet handles
- Bed frames and locker door handles
- Light switches
- Table surfaces
- Toilet flush handles
Unfortunately, wiping down the doorknobs and bed frames with alcohol spray is not a guarantee that nobody will get sick in your hostel. This being said, making sure every surface is as clean as possible also clearly doesn’t hurt.
2. Keep your staff safe - don’t forget about cleaning shared staff spaces!
One important step in cultivating an atmosphere in your hostel that makes your guests feel safe and happy is keeping your staff healthy and making sure they stay positive. Make sure you wipe down everything your staff touches with alcohol spray as well, including ant not limited to:
- Computer keyboards and mice at reception
- Reception telephone
- Bed frames in staff dorms and lodging
- Sink, countertops, towel racks in staff bathroom
3. Stop using reusable hand towels - these only spread germs
If your hostel typically uses reusable hand towels in your kitchen or bathroom, switch to alcohol wipes or paper towels for the time being. The less reusable items you have in your hostel, the better. For the more environmentally conscious hostels, we know this goes against what you typically practice, but for once, single-use items are the way to go.
4. Encourage hand washing among all guests and staff
Put up signs in the kitchen, bathroom, and in common areas instructing guests and staff alike to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day. Include graphics showing the proper way to wash their hands. You can also use the signs to encourage people to keep their hands away from their faces, especially their noses and mouths. Touching your nose and mouth is a great way to spread germs.
5. Leave hand sanitizer all around your hostel - it’s your new best friend
Put hand sanitizer out at the entrance to your hostel. Either install a dispenser or leave a large bottle there. Greet each new guest at the front door, introduce them to the hostel and ask that they use it whenever they enter the hostel. Also put bottles of hand sanitizer all over your kitchen, common room, and every other shared space.
6. Be a good role model - get into the habit of washing your hands, a lot!
Of course, we should all be washing our hands all the time anyway, but start doing it constantly. Set a good example for your staff by washing your hands whenever possible.
7. Make changes to your website to show potential guests you are taking measures to keep your hostel safe during this scary time
If you are able to, make a splash screen on the website that shows potential guests what you are doing at your hostel to help keep them safe. As you may or may not know, we at HostelManagement.com also run Pacific Tradewinds Hostel in San Francisco. Below is a screenshot showing the changes we have made to our website to update people on COVID-19 and our safety measures.
If you want more information about what we have been doing in our hostel to keep our guests and staff healthy, check out this video we made as well detailing everything we're practicing here in our hostel.
8. Change outgoing emails to address COVID-19
Many hostels send welcome emails to their guests to tell them what to expect once they check in or keep them updated on events going on in the hostel. Change this email to reflect what you are doing in your hostel to prevent COVID-19 cases, and what guests can do before they arrive. For example, you can change this email to ask guests with reservations to please contact the hostel before they arrive and let management know if they are experiencing any symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. See below for an example of such an email.
Stay safe out there, everyone. We got this!