Back-to-Work Best Practices - Forbes Travel Guide

Best Practices

As businesses and organizations manage enhanced plans for guest safety, comfort and well-being as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Forbes Travel Guide continues its support of service excellence in the hospitality industry. Reimagining luxury service following widespread closures is both confusing and overwhelming.

Forbes Travel Guide has composed a summary of Best Practices emerging in properties around the world. Our intent is to provide support and expert guidance through helpful service ideas, training tools and advice that addresses the guest’s perspective of your service.

Even as things change, luxury guests are still ultimately looking for a luxury experience, and we hope these best practices assist you with continuing to provide your guests with a positive and meaningful stay. In turn, properties can continue to win guest loyalty and build confidence.

This is a living document; we are committed to updating the content as we see global operations unfold. As we all continue to adapt, together we are committed to go above and beyond for our guests and each other.

If you find these service hints helpful and want to learn more about how to personalize them to your property, please allow us to help. You may reach us at

We look forward to being of support.

Health and Hygiene

Earn the Sharecare VERIFIED™ with Forbes Travel Guide badge by completing – and maintaining – verification on more than 360 global health security standards that serve to independently verify the processes you already have in place. To learn more about VERIFIED™, visit

For Employees

  • Provide employees with personal protective equipment, which should include a mask for all team members
    Staff Service Hint: When wearing any PPE, such as gloves or masks, think of it as part of your uniform and ensure it is in the same excellent condition. Don’t forget that caring for the internal guests (your employees) is just as important as the guest service efforts you are making. Be thoughtful, kind and considerate of your teammates.
  • Provide education for proper use of company-issued PPE and the sanitation protocols you are following in your destination
    Staff Service Hint: In addition to coaching on COVID-19 protocols, be sure to set aside some time in pre-shifts for positive activities to boost team morale and keep guest service in mind. Here is an example of a quick pre-shift exercise to try with your team.
  • Set a strong example for your guests
    Staff Service Hint: Your staff members will reflect how seriously your property is taking any restrictions you have in place. Ensure all staff members are properly wearing their masks and consistently adhering to distancing requirements in order to set the right expectations. In addition, positively empower staff members to feel comfortable with stepping in if guests are not complying.
  • Conduct temperature checks by shift
    Staff Service Hint: Consider mirroring the same processes for staff as you do for your guests and compose the same communication style, including clear next steps and support. Also consider where staff will go and how they will get home if you are not permitting them to begin their shift.
  • If you see something, say something
    Staff Service Hint: Ensure all staff feel confident on how to report observations of a staff member or guest who appears to have become unwell, even if they passed an initial healthcare check earlier in the day. When managing harmful healthcare issues, remain vigilant without losing your sense of care and concern. Ensure a procedure for these types of "on- the-floor" observations is clear to the team so they can be immediately reported and addressed.

For Guests

  • Ensure temperature checks are conducted at guest entry points
    Guest Service Hints:
    • If you are required to test guest temperatures, consider the guest’s comfort level and don’t forget to smile (even through your mask) as guests pass by your area. A smile emits positive energy, and this will instantly make the guest feel at ease as they enter your property. Here is a Forbes Travel Guide webinar that talks about how to handle courtesy and manners in these new scenarios.
    • Be sure staff are aware of the contingency plans you have in place for when guests do have a temperature above the required range. It is a good practice to ensure you are covering guest health and safety as well as their sense of comfort, such as moving guests to a private designated room, the consideration of a family traveling together being kept together, and delivery of food and water; and of course, do not forget their luggage.
    • Continually review the in-house health services you may have (i.e. house doctor or nurse) and make any necessary updates to the availability of healthcare services for your guests. Also review options for tele-medicine/online consultation as an amenity.
  • Provide on-site testing or other ways for international guests to navigate travel restriction requirements
    Guest Service Hints:
    • With many countries issuing travel restrictions that require travelers to provide negative COVID-19 tests pre- and post-travel, providing easy access to same-day testing sites, and especially offering one on site, will set your property apart.
    • For on-site testing experiences, consider the flow of the process.
      • Make the scheduling process as convenient as possible by presenting up-to-date times and dates available.
      • If a digital process is in place, be sure to inform guests of this information during their reservation call, and also be prepared to explain what is needed in terms of forms and/or QR codes when they check in.
      • When guests check into the hotel, offer to escort guests to the testing area at the time of their appointment, and provide information for what they will need, such as their passport and flight details.
      • Ensure testing alerts are available in several languages, rather than just the native language, to allow guests to easily view their results and appointment communications.
      • Proactively advise guests how they can print their results, or print these for them, so they are ready to travel with their documents when the time comes.
      • To ensure guests remain comfortable throughout their experience, consider adding appropriately distanced seating options for guests waiting for their appointments, or playing relaxing music to make the experience less clinical and reduce their anxiety.
    • Enhance your travel insurance policies to allow guests to travel with confidence, without worrying about what may happen if they test positive during their trip. At the highest level, consider providing alternative travel options for guests who test positive, or possibly allow them to quarantine at reduced or no added expense.
  • While not every hotel is in a position to have an on-site vaccination or testing facility, ensure appropriate staff members are aware of where testing and vaccination sites are available on an ongoing basis.
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Social Distancing

While all properties should adhere to their local and government mandates, here is how social distancing requirements can be applied in your property.

  • Arrange seating areas to allow for the recommended spacing between guests and side stations. This could include, but is not limited to, your lounges and public areas, pool/sun deck and outdoor rest spaces
    Guest Service Hint: When re-arranging your FF&E, consider how the guest will use it. What will their view be? Is the chair now in the sun and do you therefore need to set up an umbrella? For more advice on intuitive service, here is a Forbes Travel Guide webinar about “Plus One” service.
  • Stagger workstations (front desk, concierge, etc.) to reflect required social distancing recommendations
    Guest Service Hint: For smaller properties that may have more difficulty staggering workspaces, consider separating workstations by plexiglass barriers or setting up satellite desks. In this case, don’t forget about new signage so that guests know where to go.
  • Practice capacity control measures throughout the property, including in restaurants, elevators and retail outlets
    Guest Service Hint: To avoid any guest discomfort while waiting, consider making your restaurants by reservation only. Where reservations are not feasible, find elegant ways to mark the queueing protocols. Keep it on brand; the distance markers you use could be distinctive to your property or provide other promotional signage opportunities. This will help the process feel less utilitarian to your guests.
  • Limit group (10+) activities in confined spaces, such as children’s clubs and fitness classes
    Guest Service Hint: Consider offering substitutes for amenities that are no longer available or temporarily suspended, such as providing virtual workout offerings on the in-room television.
  • Consider a reservation process for scheduling designated guest time slots rather than fully closing a facility, such as the pool, spa thermal facilities or fitness center
    Guest Service Hint: Make sure any services that require reservations are clearly conveyed to the guest and strongly encouraged prior to their stay so that they are given plenty of opportunity to make necessary bookings. This will help prevent disappointed guests who find out there are no time slots available upon arrival.
  • When certain facilities must remain closed, consider offering service alternatives to add value
    Guest Service Hints:
    • If you are not providing pool chair setup service or complimentary refreshment service, ensure stations are accessible to allow minimal work for guests and think about setting up some chairs in advance. You may consider poolside pre-packed “picnic boxes” that contain items you may normally offer on a communal basis, including dry snacks, sunblock, refreshing wipes or hand sanitizer. Do not forget to promote your hotel app as a source of reading material, if applicable.
    • Utilize alternative options for dining setups and consider the broader use of private dining rooms, cabanas or even setting up picnic locations around the property.
    • Spa facilities can play a big part in a guest’s spa experience and their search for total relaxation and well-being. If you have decided to close access to the wet areas and relaxation rooms, this is a great opportunity for value-added services and even considering if anything could be offered in the guest room. For instance, do you have a comfortable place for the guest to relax in their room, other than the bed, and the option to tune to a soothing meditation channel on the television? Can you convert a balcony or sitting area into a mini relaxation area in some of your guest rooms? If you are closing your spa showers, can you provide a full-size bottle of your spa shower gel and body lotion for the guest to use as an in-room/at home gift? Don’t forget to bring a few elegantly packaged individual refreshments to the room, as well, for the guest to recharge after their treatments. Guests will still want to feel they are receiving value for their money, so this is a great time to be creative.
  • Ensure the designated members of staff, especially your security team, are prepared with verbiage and appropriate action to take when your social distancing requirements are not being observed
    Guest Service Hint: When guests are uncomfortable or feel the expected comfort factors of a typical luxury hotel experience are compromised, they are more likely to complain. Get ahead of those anticipated guest comfort concerns by making sure any new queuing formations are considered from a guest’s standpoint.

    For example, if a line now might stretch to an outdoor location, past a noisy area or closer to a guest room or corridor, think about how you can eliminate the discomfort of any environmental factors such as temperature, scent and sound. Don’t forget to check this at varying times of the day.
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Cleanliness and Sanitation

  • Provide hand sanitizing stations in convenient locations throughout public areas
    Guest Service Hint: Invest in touchless devices when possible and regularly check the cleanliness and function of all installations.
  • Provide personal-sized hand sanitizer and/or wipes in each guest room
    Guest Service Hint: Think about the most helpful presentation from a guest point of view. If your sanitizer becomes part of a welcome amenity or departure gift, consider including a personal welcome note or parting message. If you cannot provide personal-sized bottles, consider an opportunity for guests to hygienically refill their own bottles as an element of convenience.
  • Ensure enhanced sanitizing processes in public spaces and in the guest room are evident, with overt cleaning measures and visible checklists
    Guest Service Hints:
    • Don’t be afraid to be seen practicing your cleaning duties. Evidence of your sanitation process will ease any initial fear guests might have about cleanliness. Be ready to talk knowledgably about what products you are using and be positive about the changes your company is making to protect guests. Don’t forget, if you are working in a small area like a corridor or the elevator and a guest is passing by, pause your work, step to the side to allow the guest to pass and greet them with a warm smile.
    • While more commonplace in restaurants, consider increasing the visibility of any sanitation checklists that indicate the last time a restroom, elevator or seating area was cleaned.
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Touchless and Limited-Contact Services

  • Keep policies and services consistent
    Guest Service Hint: If you have implemented policies around not touching certain items, such as during housekeeping services, you’ll want to make sure this is consistently enforced throughout a guest’s stay. For example, if housekeeping staff is remaking beds, replacing towels and arranging toiletries during daily service, the guest would expect for their clothing and shoes to be handled, as well.
  • Provide a contactless service option for room deliveries, including in-room dining or the guest’s request for a forgotten item
    Guest Service Hint: Though some services may now be contactless, small touches can add a personal element and show the guest you still care. For instance, if you are now leaving room service orders at the guest’s door, you can still ensure the table is conveniently set so that the guest has minimal additional steps to take before dining.

    As an example, does the setup face the guest as they open the door? Is it easy for them to carry or wheel their order through the doorway, without having to walk into the hallway? In addition, have you provided a door stopper in each guest room or a way to hold open the door for them?

    Experiment with a few different orders and setups and involve your culinary team in the new delivery process, and think about how the service will flow before implementing changes. For example, if you have decided that staff will not be removing items from the warmer when serving in room dining, consider the safety issue of guests handling this themselves. It may ultimately be safer and more convenient to re-organize the service and adjust menus so that a warmer is not required.

    Consider offering the guest a choice of door drop-off or in-room set-up service if door drop-off service is not mandatory at your property. You may even offer the option to have the delivery set up in an outdoor space or as a picnic basket in place of a plated meal service.
  • Look into technology options to enhance services such as contactless payments, ordering systems, collateral, and mobile check in/check out
    Guest Service Hints:
    • Even when delivering service through technology, try inserting the skills normally used when in-person with a guest. Consider a proper greeting and a strong show of appreciation in the interaction. Infuse your brand voice in any technology and ensure the technical process is a smooth and enjoyable experience. If you are removing all paper collateral and reading materials, consider providing those amenities and services digitally instead.
    • Rather than having your guests go through the process of searching and loading your webpage and menus on their personal devices, consider a QR code to expedite this process.
  • Minimize guest use of touchpoints for public spaces, such as entry doors and elevator buttons
  • Consider alternatives when removing expected amenities and services
    Guest Service Hint: Rather than simply removing amenities, it is important to think about appropriate alternatives for guests who expect the typical conveniences of a luxury hotel. If you are removing items such as pens and paper, for example, perhaps think about providing a small stationery packet that the guest can take with them when they leave. This will eliminate the concern over sharing amenities but not compromise the guest’s experience or convenience. In the spa, if you have removed shared reading materials, consider alternative options for the guest to focus on instead of resorting to looking at their phones while waiting for their treatments, such as personal coloring kits, mindfulness prompts or meditation exercises.
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Food Presentation Safety

  • Consider adjusting self-service buffet-style setups with communal offerings and shared utensils
    Guest Service Hint: Moving away from a communal presentation can actually enhance the level of luxury the guest experiences. If your dining venue or lounge is most conducive to a buffet offering, provide staff to serve guests and individually portion items rather than having guests assemble their own plates. Consider where plexiglass barriers may be needed, as well.
  • Look into using single-use items and/or individualized portions in place of communal presentations
    Guest Service Hint: Work with your culinary team to look at all touchpoints where F&B items can be provided in creative single-serve presentations throughout your hotel and spa, if you have one. For the spa, this could include a fresh juice menu, where an individual pressed juice offering is provided to each guest after their treatments, or providing an elegant, pre-packaged snack arrangement in each guest’s locker.
  • Keep plate covers and wrappings in place, when appropriate to the meal
    Guest Service Hint: If leaving the plate covers in place is a new process for your property, such as when serving in room dining or delivering food at the pool or beach, consider other guest comfort factors. This may include making sure there is somewhere suitable for those plate covers to rest and that they are clean and will not soil the guests’ hands or clothes when they set them down. Consider the temperature, too, so that the guest is not in danger of scalding themselves.
  • Present menus in a safe and hygienic manner
    Guest Service Hint: Do not forget that the menus are part of the overall meal presentation. Opt for single-use menus or even place menus under glass tabletops. Consider promoting your menus on your app or via QR codes so the guest may access them from their own device.
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  • Establish a comprehensive and robust communication plan to ensure a guest remains informed and their expectations are managed starting from the point of the booking
    Guest Service Hints:
    • From the guest’s perspective, clear, concise information is paramount, but also make sure the message is on brand and polite. Work as a team to ensure property-wide communications are streamlined and will not overwhelm or confuse the guest. Consider setting up a small communication team since this is an incredibly important service element for guest confidence as they begin to travel again.
    • Do not forget that when updating all collateral and information that all details, including all menus displayed via your app, website or signage, are current and accurate. Public area signage content should be quick and easy to read and not cause the guest to stop for an extended period of time to read.
    • As part of your composed communication plan, consider incorporating digital access to a daily newsletter that keeps guests up to date on services at your property with easy access to that day’s menus, activities and uplifting messages and images.
  • Formalize your pre-arrival messaging
    Guest Service Hints:
    • Before a guest even arrives, think about gathering their preferences for services that now incorporate social distancing and touchless service. Provide the guest with the opportunity to indicate what level of service they may be comfortable with. For example, if you are offering modified housekeeping arrangements, are you still able to provide guests the opportunity for a regular full service if they wish to receive that?
    • Guests arriving to your property while modified services are still in place will have a lower level of anxiety if they have an opportunity to become familiar with processes pre-arrival. Consider producing a professional promotional video to showcase how guests will experience your updated processes, including their arrival, dining, spa and any healthcare protocols.
  • Utilize quick and convenient communication methods to alert guests to changes in service, such as delays or schedules
    Guest Service Hint: When delayed service is unavoidable due to situations such as limited elevator capacity, additional screenings and other COVID-19 protocols, advise the guest of possible delays and quote an estimated service time that is as accurate as possible. When a guest is better informed, they feel more in control, and your sharing of information will improve their confidence levels in your service.
  • Ensure all staff members are well-informed of health and safety procedures, both within the hotel and in their locality
    Guest Service Hint: Staff should always be able to articulate if there have been any changes to services, amenities and protocols to avoid guest disappointment. Your concierge will need to be able to support the guest with both in-house and updated local business needs, too. While your changes should ideally be communicated on your property website, the knowledge of the reservation agents will be paramount to the guest’s overall experience. It is important for property leadership to review daily changes with appropriate team members and ensure that all staff have easy access to daily process briefing sheets, even if protocols are not updated. This will ensure all team members are confident they are sharing the correct information, and that confidence will come through in the conversations staff have with guests.
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  • Ensure that food and beverage menus offer a wide variety of nutritional ingredients with healthy, immunity-boosting benefits
  • If you are keeping minibars and other in-room food and beverage items, include items with nutritional and health benefits to balance other popular foods, such as candies and sodas
    Guest Service Hint: Before removing any F&B items from your guest rooms, consider how you would replace the offerings so that the guest does not feel they now have to make an extra trip to the lobby or order through in room delivery.

    If your property has removed these items from the guest room, since items such as drinks and snacks are often impulsive purchases, consider how you can expedite those items to the room in a matter of minutes. This may include setting up butler pantries on floors or only offering pre-packed picnic boxes as your modified minibar.
  • Assess the guest room setup and lighting to ensure they are conducive to relaxation and sleep
    Guest Service Hints:
    • Consider in-room relaxation offerings, such as guided meditation content, to demonstrate you’ve taken the guest’s wellness into account and to alleviate higher levels of anxiety and stress in traveling guests. In all instances, look at the light, sound, scent and temperature of the guest room and ensure it is focused on guests’ health and well-being.
    • Incorporate mindfulness into your spa treatments. Look for ways to introduce one- to two-minute "calm down" moments, especially at the beginning of treatments, to help the guest center and turn off the noise.
    • If your property is in a position to use or implement advanced technology, or if you have access to Virtual Reality (VR) equipment, consider introducing this as an in-room amenity or in your spa services. Provide the guest the opportunity to enjoy beautiful scenery or listen to calming bedtime stories to help enhance their state of relaxation during bedtime or during spa service.
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