AAA to measure surface cleanliness during hotel inspections
AURORA, Ill. (WIFR) - In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many hotels have enacted enhanced cleaning procedures and housekeeping standards, including the promise of cleaning high-touch surfaces. With that in mind, are hotels delivering on doing just that?
AAA conducts annual anonymous in-person inspections at more than 26,000 hotels across the country and will now test sanitation levels of high-touch surfaces in those inspections.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on travelers’ expectations for cleanliness,” said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Travelers trust AAA for recommendations that focus on their safety and security. The Inspected Clean enhancement to our Diamond Program will help give them extra peace of mind and rebuild their confidence in traveling.”
AAA Inspectors will Swab Surfaces throughout the Hotel Room
The AAA inspector will conduct this testing on-site by swabbing a surface, adding the sample to a vial containing a special testing chemical, and then inserting the vial into a portable test machine, about the size of a large cellphone. Inspectors will measure eight surfaces in a selection of guest rooms and bathroom locations, which may include guest room door handles, light switches, thermostat controls, guest room desk or writing surfaces, television remotes, refrigerator handles, faucet and toilet handles, hair dryers and vanity surfaces.
Inspectors are Testing for ATP
Hotels that meet AAA’s standards for cleanliness, condition and this new surface cleanliness testing will now be recognized as Inspected Clean and then assigned a Diamond designation. The new Inspected Clean criteria rely on an objective method to validate cleanliness by detecting adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—an energy-carrying molecule found in all living cells. ATP is found in most food sources, human skin cells, bacteria, yeast, mold and biological material found in respiratory droplets.
While the test does not provide direct identification of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19, it will allow for confirmation of properly cleaned surfaces. ATP monitoring is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is used in healthcare, food service, education and other environments that require effective sanitation monitoring programs.
Testing Begins Later This Month
- AAA inspectors will start conducting testing to identify Inspected Clean properties later this month.
- Travelers will be able to find Inspected Clean hotels on AAA.com/Diamonds to help plan their trips later this fall.
- For Americans planning trips between now and then, look for AAA’s Best of Housekeeping badge for peace of mind.
- Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests.
- In addition to cleanliness, ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions, hotel staff requirements to wear masks and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining and/or pools.
1,000 Hotels Participated in the Development of the Test
AAA has set Inspected Clean passing scores calibrated to a standard it believes is appropriate for the hospitality industry. AAA’s criteria are aligned to meet reasonable expectations for cleanliness during a hotel stay, not the clinical level required by hospitals, for example. These benchmarks were set by analyzing data collected from 11,000 surface tests in more than 1,000 hotels that participated in a pilot program, along with controlled testing protocols and the scientific expertise of Charm Sciences Inc. AAA’s inspectors have been independently trained and certified by Charm Sciences Inc., which manufactures the test devices AAA’s inspectors will be using.
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