Science Says Hotels Better Get Their Pools Ready for Summer!
(Before I begin, I would like to wish everyone in our industry, happiness and safety in this dire time. And hopefully you can find positivity towards the future, by getting real facts here, that tell you there is hope and sooner rather than later.)
Since I was a kid, I have always loved science. As an adult, my love for science went to a much deeper level. The reason is because science, REAL science, is FACT. It's not an opinion or a guess. It's a tested and repeatedly proven FACT, so it cannot lie to you. What if I told you that science says resort hotels will get a surge of guests this summer, even with Coronavirus? And most of those people will be lounging around your hotel pool.
Whether you view this as good or bad news, it is a reality!
But don't worry, because science has some good news and some great news to help you be ready for the surge in this new normal of operating.
If you are skeptical, then let's look at some science facts.Good or Bad News - Hotel Summer Surge
• The Science of Psychology
It doesn't take a shrink to figure this one out. Imagine you have tens of millions of people trapped in their homes, bored out of their minds, stressing about their health and future and more. They are all experiencing psychological conditions including isolationism, depression from constant negative new, and a long list of other conditions while stuck in their homes. Eventually, all humans reach their breaking point and make judgements that are emotional, not logical. And in this unique circumstance, escape and getting away from everything they know, is going to be at the top of people's minds. Especially considering the timing of summer right around the corner, which is vacation time for most of the country. Now combine this science with the other science we will be talking about below.
• The Science of Economics
This country is a consumer driven economy, more so than any other in the world. And businesses, especially in the hard hit travel & hospitality industry, will be providing some heavy discounting to get people into their hotels in the coming weeks (once things start to calm down and we see the numbers stabilize). And the American consumer loves great deals. It is not uncommon for Americans to wait for hours in long lines with freezing temperatures or sweltering heat, just to get a chance at getting a great deal. Combine that phenomenon with their psychological need for escapism, and you have some strong motivation. But economics and psychology are still not enough, until you combine it with our next science.
• The Science of Demographics
According to the US Census Bureau, the US has a population of 330 million people. Now I don't like to pigeon hole any group, but millennials and Gen Z, which represent over 1/3 of the total population, are more likely to take medical advice from Kim Kardashian over the Surgeon General. When you are young, you take more risks and you feel invulnerable, and you love escaping to adventure. So now consider the combination of a generational block of over 100 million people, who are at a psychological brink for escapism. A generation that is extremely consumeristic and live for deals. A generation that is highly sexualized and always ready to party outside under the bikini clad summer sun.
So where can that generation get great travel deals, where they can hang out around a pool with a mojito in one hand and a cellphone in the other? More than likely it is going to be a hotel pool.
Good News - The Hotel Pool is the safest place on property
• The Science of Sunshine
Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis famously said, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant". Although he was using it as an analogy for legal rights, it turns out there is actual truth in the statement. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health "Sunlight or, more specifically, solar UV radiation acts as the principal natural virucide in the environment. UV radiation kills viruses by chemically modifying their genetic material, DNA and RNA." The efficiency varies based on the 3 types UV radiation, but a pool chair on a hot summer day is positioned to get the strongest and longest direct exposure to that solar radiation. It's not the ultimate germicide, but every little bit helps, and as you'll see, the hotel pool has lots of science helping to fight viruses.
• The Science of Temperature
According to the World Health Organization, Heat at 56°C (132°F) kills the SARS coronavirus. You're thinking to yourself, "My pool area never gets that hot and even if it did, no guests would be willing to go to the pool with that air temperature". Well the good news is we're not talking about air temperature but rather surface temperature. Thanks to heat transfer theory and global warming, the surface of most pool chairs can get that hot. This is because the infrared radiation from the sun and the greenhouse effect keep making things hotter, and most materials can't dissipate that energy so they turn it into escalating heat. Ever seen someone crack an egg on the hood of a car, where the egg then begins to cook? If you have, then you should know it's not magic, it's science. Because of the unblocked position to the sun, the greenhouse effect, and a bunch of other factors, the surface temperature of your pool chairs help kill viruses like COVID-19.
• The Science of Chemistry
Close your eyes for a second and imagine yourself next to a pool. Now what do you smell? Most people would probably say chlorine, which by the way is used by the CDC to kill super nasty viruses like ebola. In fact, if you put your pool chlorine level to 4 ppm, you've got some very powerful virus killing water that is actually safe for humans. And that chlorine gets aerosolized which is why we smell it around the pool. Those tiny droplets of chlorine in the air can help weaken viruses in the air and on surfaces. By now, hopefully you are starting to add up the math. Remember, every little bit helps! You've got a little UV Radiation, hot surface temperatures and now chlorine all working together around that pool, helping to sanitize surfaces, the air, and more.
• The Science of Humidity
There are multiple studies now showing some positive signs about hot humid weather killing Coronavirus like the three listed below.
Unfortunately I don't trust any of them yet because as you read in the top of this article, science has to be repeatedly tested and repeatedly proven. Two things these studies have not yet accomplished. But science does tell us that the Coronavirus has an oily coating, so why is this good news for the hotel pool operator? Have you ever heard the saying, "Oil and water don't mix"? This part is all about physics. You see, the fats that make up oils like the oily coating of the Coronavirus, cannot break apart the hydrogen bonds of water. That's why water can repel oils, hence repel an oily coated virus. This benefits us around the hotel pool because that denser air, filled with water, makes it dramatically more difficult for a virus to travel in. But just because your hotel pool is safer, means you need to make sure the virus stays out of your Hotel in the first place.Great news - If Hotels Implement Smart Science NOW, they will be Ready
• Hand Sanitizer Dispensers are the Front Line - Don't be Empty
Depending on the material, the virus can live on surfaces for days or even weeks. And the main way viruses travel is not by air but by touch. We touch so many surfaces every day, and then we touch our face 23 times per hour. So we learn to be vigilant and continuously sanitize our hands. You probably have installed hand sanitizer dispensers around your property, but what are their value to your guests or employees if they are empty and not being consistently monitored and refilled. The good news is that there is a FREE service called Smart Refill now available as one of the many tools that HTNG Members are offering the hotel industry. Tools which helps hotel management ensure they vigilantly monitor and refill those sanitizer dispensers, dramatically reducing the likelihood that they are empty.
• MERV says your rooms should be 14 or greater
According to the EPA, MERV is the rating system for air filters. And protecting against viruses like COVID-19, you need a rating of 14 or greater. Air filters in combination with UV-C bulbs and ozone generators can actually clean not only the air but surfaces too. A hotel can easily implement UV-C bulbs and ozone generators in high traffic areas. The UV-C kills viruses and the ozone acts as a magnet to carry the UV-C into areas that don't have direct light. Another powerful recommendation is to not simply put MERV Filters in the main HVAC system but instead in the individual vents in each room. It is a simple process, by taking commonly available filters and cutting them into the size of the vents. Then placing them behind the vent opening. Then simply replace every few months. These filters can trap the viruses.
These are very simple things that can be transformational to a hotel in the new normal, where you need to continuously fight against viruses, because COVID-19 will come back and new viruses as well. This is the New Normal, but don't worry, we can make it comfortable and safe thanks to Science.
• Accountability of cleaning SOP's is NOT about Trust, it's about Vigilance
The most important piece to keeping everyone safe and secure is by making sure you consistently sanitize key surfaces vigilantly. Unfortunately, when it comes to a constant level of vigilance, no human being is perfect. We get distracted, forget, or countless other factors. But the science of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can make sure every nook and cranny is sanitized consistently and efficiently. This is part of the New Normal, and it is not a question of trusting whether your employees do it or not. It is about enhancing the human element with technology that guarantees consistency. To accomplish this, Hotels can employ easy to implement, low cost accountability & efficiency technologies NFC or Near Field Communication, to make sure SOP's are followed exactly the same way, every time by every employee.
Science has just proven you that there is going to be a surge of guests this summer at your hotel pool. Science has also proven you that your hotel pool is going to be the safest place on your property to avoid virus contamination. Now it is up to you and your organization to use science to help make your hotel sanitized, give guests the tools to stay sanitized, and make sure your management and employees stay vigilant in keeping everyone safe in this new normal.