Tips on enforcing mask mandates in your hotel

Wanny Mei
Wanny Mei
August 3, 2020
person wearing a mask and sitting at a computer
Even though COVID-19 is at an all-time high in the United States, time and time again some people just don’t wear masks in public. Or they wear them incorrectly. Blame it on anything from misinformation to denial, but it’s unfortunately a reality that must be dealt with as businesses are trying to reopen safely.

As hoteliers are also trying to make a comeback from a year that has devastated the hospitality industry, the question is whether management can guarantee a safe environment for guests and employees alike. Even with new safety regulations in place, hotel employees are anxious about going back to work, especially when customers can get argumentative or even violent sometimes.

Management owes it to their workers to have procedures in place to ensure that people are wearing masks correctly in the hotel as recommended by the CDC. For that sake, we’ve compiled some tips to enforce mask mandates in hotels. These tips are informed by the framework of making mask requirements easy to follow, universally understood, and unquestionably expected, which are essential according to professors at University of Pennsylvania.

a pile of face masks

Provide masks for guests at the entry

Although masks are pretty easy to buy online or in store, or even to make, it still takes a bit of effort to get them. Your hotel can cut out this effort by providing masks at the entry for free if someone doesn’t have a mask. The idea is that it should take less effort for a guest to take the mask in front of them rather than resisting it, but some people can still be very adamant about not wearing a mask. That’s why we have some other tips to come.

Put up informational guides

With the confusing information coming from officials during the earlier stages of the pandemic, some people may simply not understand how serious the virus is, or they held on to earlier information. By putting up informational guides that are easy to understand in public spaces, some people may learn something about the benefits of mask-wearing and make a change. There are many communications resources from the CDC, some of which include print graphics, that are free for anyone to use.

informational guide from the CDC about stopping the spread of COVID-19

Change the messaging

It’s not surprising that people usually adhere to the norm in social settings. However, to make people actually change their behavior to match the norm, people need to be aware and focus their attention on it. A straightforward way to focus attention on the norm is to create normative messaging on signs. According to a study by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, researchers found that the signage wording mattered when trying to get people to stay on the trail. Rather than “Please stay on the established paths and trail, in order to protect the sequoias and natural vegetation in the park”, the wording of “Please don’t go off the established paths and trail, in order to protect the sequoias and natural vegetation in the park” was much more effective in changing behavior.

The phrasing of “please don’t do this” seems to point to the norm much more than “please do this”. So, next time you go and put up signs around your establishment, you can use this framing to create messaging like “Please don’t come in without a mask, in order to ensure the safety of our guests and employees”.

Sign agreements before arrival

Before any guest even arrives at the hotel, have them sign a digital agreement to comply with all hotel policies, which should clearly include wearing a mask in shared spaces like the lobby or hallways. Nothing says “I will follow the rules” quite like a signed contract. Learn more about how you can easily implement this with Akia’s digital registration card.

guest signing agreement stating they have not traveled recently and do not have COVID-19 symptoms

If nothing else, don’t let people in

Businesses have a right to refuse service to customers who don’t follow their policies, as long as they’re not discriminating against people with a disability. If you’ve done everything you can to try to convince guests to wear a mask and they still don’t comply, then refusing their entry or asking them to leave might just be the best way to address the issue. It might make some people angry, but it’s better to have angry customers than risk the health of other people in your hotel.

hotel front desk staff on the phone

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