Moving to meet that demand is Forbes Travel Guide, best known for its star rankings of hotels around the world and now moving into the health certification marketplace. FTG has partnered with Sharecare, a digital health company, to create Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED with Forbes Travel Guide.
In December, the company listed its first VERIFIED hotels, which ranged from an Atlantis resort in Dubai to the Baccarat Hotel in New York to the NHI Sumba in Indonesia -- about 30 in all. These properties, and others that follow, will be able to display a “seal of approval” from FTG on their websites and on-site.
Filip Boyen, CEO of FTG, said that restoring guest confidence is a critical objective for the entire global hospitality industry, especially for hotels and resorts. To their credit, he said, hotels have invested heavily in setting up health safety procedures, but they have placed the burden of assessing their programs -- and assuring individual properties are following them -- onto the guest or travel advisor. This conflicts with the guiding principles of hospitality, not to mention the carefree joys of travel. By earning the VERIFIED badge, he said, hotels “now have a credible way to broadcast that they are following comprehensive, consistent procedures to heighten health security, certified by a third party.”
Sharecare’s solution requires that hotels verify their health protocols on an ongoing basis against more than 360 expert-validated standards, including health and hygiene protocols, cleaning products and procedures, ventilation and physical distancing. Additionally, participating hotels have the option to track daily employee virus screening results and provide relevant tools for guests and visitors, including clinically validated health screeners.
Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, whose properties were among the first to be labeled, noting the marketing potential, said the verification “is proof positive that we are putting safety at the forefront today.”
And FTG is thinking bigger than individual properties. Sharecare and FTG were chosen by Internova, a major travel agency network, to validate the health procedures and protocols at more than 50,000 hotels booked by its travel advisors. Internova expects to have all its preferred properties validated by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Going forward, there will be many ways for travel suppliers to establish themselves as offering a healthy environment. Whether it’s FTG or another platform, there’s no question that some kind of reassurance for travelers will be important. You might not say “great food, comfortable rooms and virus-free” in an ad, but there are more subtle ways to get that message across -- and your decision-making process should be well under way now.