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As Travel Programs Resume, Health and Safety Standards are Paramount

Brant Southwell

July 16, 2020

Many businesses and individual travelers are beginning to re-initiate their travel plans as numerous areas appear to have significantly slowed the spread and taken steps to reopen responsibly. As the numbers rise and fall in certain geographies over the coming months, planning travel will undoubtedly involve ongoing and diligent evaluation of the safest, most prudent measures needed to protect employees and family members. Travel safety is more important now than ever before.

As part of our ongoing mission to champion safe and healthy travel for customers and non-customers alike, Savoya has compiled some practical and meaningful guidelines—backed by science and medical professionals—for the three most common facets of business and personal travel: air, ground and hotels.

Travel Safety Standards for Air Travel

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights due to the stringent requirements for how air is circulated and filtered on airplanes. However, there are still a few practical ways to maximize travel safety, both inside the airport and aboard the airplane.

First and foremost, it is important to strictly adhere to airline regulations regarding protective face coverings. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) now strongly recommend cloth masks for the general public. Given that this was not initially the case, many people around the country have been understandably confused about the effectiveness of face coverings; but there is now ample evidence that face coverings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as:

Protective face coverings should be worn at all times while in the airport and on the airplane. Exceptions are made for those eating or drinking (and maintaining proper hydration is obviously important while traveling as well) but try to limit these to very short breaks.

Air travel requires spending time in security lines and crowded terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Effort to maintain at least six feet of distance, and wash and/or sanitize your hands often. After boarding, maintaining six feet of distance can be difficult on a more crowded flight, which is why protective face coverings are such a simple and important way to protect yourself and your fellow passengers.

Finally, be sure to review the widely available cleaning standards for any airlines you are considering utilizing. You will undoubtedly find that most major, reputable providers are performing thorough cleaning and disinfection between flights, but this is still a worthwhile check to ensure piece of mind while aboard the airplane.

Travel Safety Standards for Ground Travel

If you are considering utilizing busses, shuttles or public transportation, be sure to investigate both their procedures to ensure social distancing, as well as their cleaning frequency and processes. That said, you will almost certainly have several more private options for ground travel, making it much easier to avoid crowds and limit contact with others. Even with this limited contact, however, safety standards promoted by some ground travel providers have proven in some cases to be inconsistent in their application. For this reason, it remains important to ensure with complete confidence that your ground travel provider adheres to practical safety standards on every single trip.

Most notably, both drivers and passengers should wear protective face coverings and avoid physical contact (i.e. handshakes). Also, drivers and passengers should both perform a temperature check and forego traveling if feeling at all unwell. Drivers should always have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer readily available in the vehicle and should avoid using the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation during passenger transport. They should instead use the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air.

As with airlines, it is important to ask your ground travel provider about their cleaning processes. A car may be utilized for many more transfers in a given day than an airplane, so understanding how cleanliness is maintained in the vehicle is vital. Most importantly, make sure that the drivers are sanitizing all passenger areas and frequently touched objects in their vehicles between every single trip. Also, drivers should perform a full vehicle cleaning daily, washing all exterior and interior hard surfaces with soap and water and vacuuming all carpeted areas. After cleaning, drivers should liberally spray the interior of the vehicle with spray disinfectant, including using thoroughly in vents and ducts.

Since February, Savoya has proactively installed health and safety standards based on best-available information from the CDC and WHO, vehicle sanitization best practices, and specific expectations/requests from customers. As companies begin to ramp up travel in the coming months, Savoya is confident that these comprehensive protocols will help travelers get back on the road safely and confidently.

Travel Safety Standards for Hotels

Hotels are gathering spaces by definition, filled with staff members, visitors and other guests. As with air and ground travel, be sure to wear a mask any time you are in a shared space and maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and other guests at all times. Minimize use of areas that may lead to close contact with other people as much as possible, such as the lobby or pool area. Consider taking the stairs if possible, or alternatively wait to utilize elevators until you can ride with only members of your own party. Also, be sure to request contactless delivery for room service orders if that is not already standard operating procedure for the hotel.

That said, the majority of time spent in a hotel will undoubtedly be spent in your room; therefore, the hotel’s cleaning processes—and their strict adherence to these processes—is the most important aspect of ensuring travel safety while staying at a hotel. Items like countertops, furnishings and even dishware are shared and reused by visitor after visitor, sometimes in rapid succession. Be sure to investigate whether the hotel has updated and enhanced their policies about cleaning and disinfecting. Check how long the required vacancy window is between guests, and request that your room be vacant for at least 24 hours before your arrival. Ask that the hotel either thoroughly clean or remove/replace items such as phones, pens, remote controls or room keys. Finally, look for employees who are actively cleaning and disinfecting throughout your stay. Continual activity is a good sign that your chosen hotel is diligently implementing their cleaning protocols.

Regardless of how you travel, travel safely.

Whether in the air or on the ground, take all expedient precautions to protect yourself and those around you when traveling. Throughout our 20-year history, Savoya has maintained an almost fanatical commitment to providing unmatched service and safety standards for our passengers. These core principles continue to guide us daily as we put protocols in place that allow our passengers to travel safely and confidently. As always, Savoya is here to help you get back on the road, with a genuine focus on your health and safety.

What other ways are you ensuring or promoting safe travel in 2020? Leave us a note below with your comments.

Brant Southwell
Brant Southwell

Mr. Southwell, Vice President of Marketing at Savoya, is responsible for implementing Savoya's aggressive strategic marketing plan. His contributions address data-driven insights into the ground travel industry and key customers.