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A Safehotels article in the Safeture monthly newsletter ...

Andy Williams - VP Business Development & Quality Assurance

In November 2020, Safeture announced a partnership with Safehotels to provide our users with information on certified Safehotels, all around the world. This month, we feature Andy Williams, VP Business Development & Quality Assurance for Safehotels. He share his insights into hotels returning to business and the upcoming ISO 31030 Travel Security Management Guidelines.

At the start of the pandemic, we were speculating on how long it would impact hotel, conference and business travel. Knowing how resilient these industries are, we were confident full business travel would return in a year and life would be back to normal by now.

Back in 2020, we were perhaps over optimistic and should have looked carefully at history to see pandemics take at least 2 years to ride out. The best example being the ‘Spanish Flu’ Pandemic that lasted from February 1918 until April 1920. Covid-19 took off globally from February 2020 and if history repeats 100 years later, does this mean we are looking at April 2022 for a full return to hotel and business travel?

Positive news is the vast majority of hotels and hotel companies Safehotels work with maintained and renewed their annual certification. They resisted the temptation to bundle it in with other cost cutting measures due to the drop in business caused by lack of travel. Best practice safety and security certification was retained as the best way to prepare and be ready for when hotel business fully returns.

In the USA, Safehotels renewed and extended their contract with Hyatt hotels. Hyatt have taken the initiative by combining Safehotels safety and security certification with CovidClean™ Certification along with independent verification of their own internal standards.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the safety and security certification program with Radisson Hotel Group and other hotel brands was maintained and also started to grow it in China. In Mexico, the City Express hotel group certified over 100 of their business hotels with CovidClean™ certification,

Since our partnership with Safeture, Safehotels activity has been a good barometer of travel activity so far as hotels continuing with and taking up our Certification program. Markets appear to be split into no travel - sporadic travel – domestic travel – neighbouring border travel.

An example of a sporadic travel market is Europe with its stop-start and winter-summer seasonal approach on a country-by-country basis. A good example of uninterrupted domestic market travel is the USA and neighbouring border travel are Mexico and the USA were leisure and business travel continues.

We are also seeing interest from corporate travel security managers on how best to verify safety and security in hotels when international business travel returns. In March, Safehotels was approached by travel security managers of the major global high-tech companies to present on our certification program; in April we were approached by the ASIS International country chapters of Hungary, Austria and Ukraine to deliver 6 hours of travel and hotel security ‘master class’ to their corporate security members.

Additionally, in the hospitality education sector, the value and interest of hotel safety and security is recognized through inclusion in course modules. Safehotels has teamed up with YRGO Gothenburg vocational university to deliver hotel safety and security modules for their graduates.

With regards to standards for travel security management and hotels, of note is the upcoming ISO 31030, which will be published as a guideline after the summer. It will not be a mandatory ISO standard for the industry, however from my own experience of corporate travel security management governance it will take prominence as a benchmark reference for corporate security travel policy and duty of care due diligence.

As a standard it is linked to ISO 31000 Enterprise Risk Management, where risk assessment and ongoing monitoring of risks is key. This is where Safeture’s core services of travel security risk management systems comes into play, providing corporate travel management programs with the ability to meet the risk assessment and monitoring components of the ISO31030 standard guidelines. The new standard also references hotel security certification programs and independent verification of hotel security in high threat locations. This makes the partnership of Safeture and Safehotels a win-win for business travel duty of care due diligence requirements when ISO 31030 is launched.

With every crisis there is opportunity. Safehotels responded to the pandemic by launching CovidClean™ hotel certification to independently verify hotels hygiene and infection control standards based on WHO and CDC guidelines. In Mexico, CovidClean™ came to the attention of the Minister of Tourism who Tweeted the certification’s success. This had a knock-on effect with other business sectors contacting us to see what other certifications could be provided, one of which was a University Campus in Monterrey Mexico. Soon we saw additional interest from other sectors and through our parent company Safe Cert Group we launched Safe Care Homes, Safe Schools, Safe Offices, Safe Car Rentals and Safe Rentals as well.

Let’s see what the next update brings. It now appears vaccination programs are key to the return of international business travel. With a coordinated vaccination push by governments around the world and take up by populations, we could see international business travel make a tentative return in Q3 and then gather momentum by Q4 this year. History need not repeat itself by making us wait for over two years.

YRGO offer an International Hospitality Management program, taught in English, that provides the student with the skills to meet the demands of the international hospitality industry.

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