Hilton aims to set new standards with CleanStay programme

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic courtesy of Hilton KL

HOTEL giant, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc is ready to welcome back guests with a strong focus on hygiene, assurances, and peace of mind for anyone entering its doors globally.

The group recently introduced Hilton EventReady with CleanStay, a cleanliness and customer service programme specific to meetings and events held at its various outlets.

It is an initiative in collaboration with Reckitt Benckiser Group plc (RB) — maker of Lysol and Dettol — and in consultation with Mayo Clinic.

Hilton South-East Asia VP of operations Paul Hutton (picture) said while the group had high standards of hygiene already in place, the pandemic drove the hotel to look for something to take cleanliness a step further.

“It was a heightened level of assurance we needed to give people, for space and meetings and high touchpoints in the room. It also involved an enhanced level of training for staff, and people could see how dedicated the team were in keeping everyone safe,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

Part of the initiative includes “breaking the seal”, an activity done by the person booking a meeting room for use.

“All the meeting rooms are sanitised and thoroughly cleaned, then sealed up. The person using the room then breaks it open once it is ready to be used and thereafter, is solely driven and controlled by that person only,” Hutton said.

He added that the gym, pool and spa remained closed as per government regulations, but now are open and ready for use.

“In every need of a guest, we need to be able to be socially responsible and flexible, as it needs to be convenient but safe for our guests. The goal is to focus on cleanliness that is visible to guests at all times, be it rooms, restaurants, fitness rooms, and in other public spaces,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hutton said despite the Covid-19 pandemic having an enormous impact around the world, its 11 properties in Malaysia had never actually closed for business.

“We’ve had a strong business plan and model that served us well during this time. In fact, Malaysia is the first country in South-East Asia where business has returned to a reasonable level right now. We are definitely moving in the right direction,” he said.

According to Hutton, the hotels saw between 47% and 48% in room occupancy as of August 2020, due to pent-up domestic demand from the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented on March 18, 2020.

“Malaysians have strong family ties and the transportation system is great, it was only a matter of time before people began moving around again. As soon as the regulations for the MCO were relaxed, we saw an immediate pickup in Melaka, Penang, Johor Baru, and now the rest of South-East Asia is following,” he said.

The group currently has 43 properties across six brands, Hilton Hotel & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Curio Collection by Hilton.

Hutton said specifically for Malaysia, the group will focus on domestic travel and move to corporate travel if possible.

“Our hotels now have bookings for meetings daily and while it may not be for the same amount of people as before, we are grateful there is still a demand. We are happy to work with vendors to align on shared objectives,” he said.

Hutton said the group is bullish about the future in Malaysia, especially since there will be two more brands launched in the country.

“Both Conrad Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Canopy by Hilton KL Bukit Bintang are expected to open in 2021. We are very excited about that. We will also be introducing four DoubleTree by Hilton hotels which include the brand’s first entry into Putrajaya and Miri, Sarawak — DoubleTree by Hilton Putrajaya and DoubleTree by Hilton Miri,” he said.