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Hotels Playbook

This playbook provides guidelines for hotels, motels, resorts and other lodging facilities in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Sample: Midsize Urban Hotel Risk Profile

Hotel Risk Profile Frequency

Hotel Risk Profile Duration

Hotel Risk Profile Variety

This risk profile has been determined for midsize urban hotels in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impact

Impact from COVID-19 has been devastating for the hotel industry. Leisure and hospitality has lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic that have yet to return, representing more than a third of all unemployed persons in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more stark, the unemployment rate in the accommodation sector specifically remains 330% higher than the rest of the economy. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), hotels in Iowa are expected to end 2021 down 3,500 jobs. While the recent uptick in leisure travel for spring and summer is encouraging for hotels, business travel — the largest source of hotel revenue — is not expected to begin its slow return until the second half of this year. Full recovery is not expected until 2024.

Hotel Rooms Empty

8 out of 10 Hotel Rooms Empty

Hotel Jobs Lost

8.3 Million Lost Jobs

Hotel Jobs Lost in Iowa

25% of Jobs Lost in Iowa


Future Trends

Hotel Operations

Leaner and More Efficient Operations

Hotels will maintain leaner operations long after the current crisis. Operational departments will be consolidated, and many positions won't be refilled immediately.

Hotel Consolidation

Industry Consolidation

Over the return to stabilization, the hotel industry may see some consolidation as operators look for opportunities to protect themselves against unforeseen events and leverage economies of scale. Many small and medium operators may not be able to sustain themselves and become targets of large management companies with the cash and resources to navigate the crisis more successfully.

Hotel Technology Adoption

Automation Adoption

Major hotel brands have made important progress in technology adoption, such as digital room keys and digital check-in. The current crisis incentivizes other hotel brands to do the same. This technology will not only protect hotel personnel from contagion but also save hotel owners money by operating with fewer people.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should consult CDC guidance on when to self-quarantine.
  • Face coverings and other PPE should be worn by employees and guests in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Remind guests to wear face masks in the lobby or other common areas.
  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Make hand sanitizer readily available to guests in public areas. Consider touchless hand sanitizing solutions.
  • Clean and disinfect break rooms, public areas, fitness centers and conference rooms on a routine basis or at least daily. Encourage fitness center patrons to clean equipment before and after use.
  • Conduct more frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces such as the front desk/check-in counter, public areas, restrooms, tables, elevator buttons, water fountains, ATMs/card payment stations, ice/vending machines, pens, room keys and key cards.
  • Reception desk staff should use disposable disinfectant wipes to disinfect surfaces in between guest interactions.
  • Guestrooms occupied by the same customer over multiple days should not be cleaned daily, unless requested.
  • Employees cleaning guestrooms should:
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before entering and after exiting a guestroom. Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available.
    • Throw away all single-use items provided by the hotel or left by the guest.
    • If bulk personal care items are used, the cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces in the room including any bulk toiletry items that may have been used or touched by guests prior to the next occupant.
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as tables, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, remote controls, phones, toilets, toilet flush handles, sink faucets, door handles, pens and irons. o Wash all hotel linens according to the manufacturer’s label and use the warmest appropriate water setting. Allow items to dry completely.
    • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry or trash.
    • Do not shake dirty laundry.
    • Wash hands immediately after handling dirty laundry or trash.
    • If a guest is ill and isolating in their hotel room, discontinue all but essential housekeeping services to the room.
    • Additional precautions for cleaning a room after a guest who has been ill has checked out of the hotel:
      • Close off the room.
      • Wait 24 hours before you enter the room. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
      • If possible, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation.
      • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the room.
      • Use a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available.
      • After the room has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for guest use.
  • Require employees to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Hotel Employee Health

Process & Space Modifications

  • Eliminate/reduce in-person check-in or checkout with automated processes, such as online reservation and check-in, mobile room key and contactless payment.
  • Front desk agents should practice physical distancing protocols and procedures, which may include utilizing every other workstation to ensure separation between employees, if possible.
  • Install protective shields (sneeze guards) between areas of guest-staff interaction, such as the front desk, concierge and valet stands.
  • Create social distance markers in your public areas to control check-in lines and general crowding.
  • Reconfigure your restaurant, lobby and lounge seating to maintain appropriate spacing between seated guests.
  • Limit the number of individuals in an elevator at one time and designate one directional stairwells, if possible.
  • Hotel gym, pools and spas should ensure that physical distancing requirements can be enforced and cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place.
  • Self-parking options should be emphasized, where possible. If valet service is provided, disinfecting of contact points within the vehicle is required. In addition, van and shuttle service should be limited, and disinfecting of contact points will be required.
  • Housekeeping should not enter a guest room during a stay unless specifically requested or approved by the guest or to comply with established safety protocols.
  • Food and beverage service should reduce in-person contact with guests and avoid serving traditional buffet service and also minimize dining items for increased sanitation.
  • Traditional room service should be replaced with a no-contact delivery method.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of food contact surfaces and utensils, table linens and shared objects (i.e. condiments) and removal of unused items (i.e. glasses, silverware) on tables before and after guest use should be adhered to.
  • Portion control should be emphasized to reduce food exposed for long periods.
  • Sneeze and cough screens should be present at all food displays.
  • Minimal items should be placed on guest tables to allow for effective disinfection in between each guest, including condiments, silverware, glassware, napkins, etc.
  • For certain segments, the use of single-wrapped food items, prepackaged foods and ‘grab & go’ items should be the preferred method of food delivery.
  • Meetings, conventions and all other events should align with CDC recommendations, including physical distancing, use of face coverings, contactless service offerings, cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, modified layouts and limiting capacity.
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate accordingly to their original design and provide acceptable indoor air quality in line with occupancy levels.

Hotel Facilities


  • Communicate often with staff to remind them of the importance of adhering to sanitization guidelines.
  • Post signage for both guests and staff with recommended public health guidelines, including social distancing, hand washing, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or into arm, wearing masks and avoiding handshakes. Signage should be available in multiple languages and accessible to those with disabilities.
  • Advise current and past guests immediately if you become aware of a COVID-19 positive individual on the premises.

Hotel Communication

Community Partnerships

Hotel Employees

Supporting Essential Workers

Repurpose your hotel and provide a safe space for these health care workers during this crisis. Laurie Tigges, the owner of Big Blue Bed and Breakfast in Adel, Iowa, has offered her home for medical and personnel and first responders for free. Residents offered to bring groceries to workers in the home. Big Al's BBQ and Adel Family Fun Center offered meals. Harmony Hall, a local events business, offered "glamping" space as well.

Hawkeye Hotels Logo

Hawkeye Hotels across the state of Iowa have offered free or significantly discounted hotel guestrooms to health care workers and first responders who have been affected by COVID and need a temporary place to stay. The Hampton Inn and Suites in West Des Moines has also provided complimentary rooms for medical professionals during the crisis.

Sheltering Homeless

Providing Shelter to the Homeless

Work with local governments and organizations to help preserve medical resources and provide space for people who don't have a safe place to isolate. In late March, Polk County announced it would work with the Youth Inn on the Iowa State Fairgrounds to shelter homeless residents in need of isolation.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

Finance Button

Human Resources
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Information Technology
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Legal Button

Operations Button

Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing Button

*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 5/17/2021