Hilton Brisbane General Manager, Chris Partridge.

As Hilton implements its ‘CleanStay’ hygiene and guest safety protocols across its Asia Pacific estate, HM spoke exclusively this week with Hilton Area General Manager, South East Queensland, Chris Partridge, on the specific changes coming into play, the shift to contactless and overall guest response.

How is Hilton rolling out its new CleanStay processes across Brisbane and the Gold Coast? Can you tell us about some of the changes you’ve seen in the last six months?

Since Hilton CleanStay was implemented in June across the globe, we have rolled out the program at both Hiltons in Brisbane and Surfers Paradise. CleanStay has been developed to meet the expectations and give peace of mind to our guests when returning to travel and stay at our hotels. Guests can be confident that from check-in to check-out, Hilton’s high standards of cleanliness have received further focus throughout their stay.

Over the past six months, the most noticeable changes apart from the CleanStay initiatives probably relate to food and beverage and adapting what we do to ensure compliance with COVID-safe practices. So, for example, I’m happy to say that the breakfast buffet hasn’t disappeared but has become a “you choose, we serve” experience for our guests.

Hilton CleanStay is a joint initiative with RB – makers of the Dettol brand of disinfectants.

Have you noticed an upswing in the volume of travellers opting for a contactless stay and doing everything on their phones?

We had noticed this trend before the pandemic with a willingness for guests to adopt technology as a means to creating a hassle-free experience. For example, Hilton Honors members can reserve a room, choose which room they want and check-in using the Hilton Honors app. And when in the hotel, they can use their phone as a digital key. Online checkout completes the cycle.

I think travellers will continue to opt for the digital experience as a result of practices introduced to create a contact free environment in hotels and businesses in general. I was watching a line of people waiting to enter a bar the other day and everyone had their phone out in readiness to scan a QR code to enter Contact Tracing information. I think this provides a great impetus to further progress contact free digital applications across hospitality in general.

3. What new operational protocols are in place for keeping team members safe?

Building on what was in already in place, our protocols have been reinforced to ensure adequate messaging around the work place in relation to hygiene, physical distancing and helping team members understand the symptoms that might be displayed in relation to COVID-19. Extensive training across all departments has taken place as part of Hilton CleanStay and team members are provided with the appropriate PPE to safely carry out their duties.

Many regular travellers are already adept at mobile check-in and contactless capabilities.

4. How are guests responding to changes being made? Are they receptive or hesitant?

On the whole, guests have been very receptive to changes that we have made, especially in relation to providing for a COVID-safe environment. Whilst the hotel experience is a little different to what was available before the pandemic, there is a general sense of acceptance for the reasons why changes have been made.

5. What changes to guest demographics has Hilton Brisbane noticed lately in terms of guest origin?

It has been great to be able to welcome back guests on a more frequent basis since travel opened up in June for Queenslanders and then July for those from interstate. Understandably, the biggest change has been in relation to international visitation or lack thereof and we have yet to see a return of business travellers in great numbers.

Leisure is the biggest reason given for guest visits and the drive market is particularly strong at the moment so we definitely are seeing a growth in guests who may have travelled 100 km or so coming to combine a celebration with a ‘Staycation’. Hopefully we will be able to welcome guests from overseas in the not too distant future but until then I think we can look forward to increases in domestic travel as Aussies holiday at home this year.