The travel industry is one that has seen a constantly changing environment in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the hotel industry being no exception. Leading hotel brands have been forced to adapt, through better social distancing and cleaning policies to improved cancellation policies.

Which hotel chains have proven the best at adapting? Which chains have made guest safety a priority over their bottom line and been the most consumer-friendly?

Two major hotel brands have shown exemplary leadership, especially in booking and mask policies. Information on these chains and their policies follows.

Overall COVID-19 Handling

Hilton and Hyatt have ranked the highest overall, with Marriott a close second. Many brands changed their policies about masks in late July 2020. These brands have also continued to offer booking flexibility at a time when many other brands have scaled back flexible booking.

Health and Social Distancing Scores

These chains had specific policies that included:

Social distancing between guests in common areas

Room blocking policies in between guests or after staff cleaning

Mobile check-in and express check-out that eliminate or reduce contact

Mandatory staff mask policy

Mandatory guest mask policy even if not required by the state

Trained on-staff health coordinator or leader

Required staff health checks

Enhanced cleaning procedure policies

Despite being initially slow to adopt these policies, Hyatt has had a strong mask policy and trained health leaders. Hilton has also shown strong leadership in these areas.

Flexible Policies on Booking and Cancellations

When the pandemic first disrupted travel plans, some chains decided to offer flexibility by allowing guests to cancel or change their bookings without fees. Later, some chains would extend these policies to new bookings to encourage more travelers to book. In the summer of 2020, the virus’ seeming abatement led to chains rolling back these policies.

Hilton has managed to stay at the lead among the chains because of a change and cancellation policy that has remained generous during the pandemic.

In Summary

Similar criteria to the performance of airlines during the pandemic can help travelers make smart travel decisions. Many consider it essential for businesses like hotels to be held accountable for safety measures. Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton have performed well on safety protocols and flexibility.