As Hotels in Sri Lanka reopen and start welcoming guests, the sanitization measures they put in place will take center stage for hygiene conscious guests. One of these measures is the disinfecting of guest luggage.
Luggage that guests bring from abroad would have definitely come into contact with airport security staff, luggage check-in staff, ground handling crews and taxi drivers or chauffeurs. All this contact means there is a higher risk of luggage being contaminated with COVID 19.
This, combined with the fact that COVID – 19 can stay on surfaces for more than three to five days; means that some of these suitcases are possibly ticking time bombs.
The way that guest luggage is handled directly conveys the hotel’s level of customer service. Measures such as asking guests to take luggage to the room themselves (to reduce the risk of porter staff being exposed to contaminated luggage) is not a viable measure as it would create a negative customer service experience.
Current luggage disinfecting procedures call for utilizing chemical disinfectants to sanitize guest luggage as chemical disinfectants contain alcohol that destroys viruses in about 30 seconds.
However, this method has several disadvantages:
- Requires manual labor
- Is a slow and tedious process.
- Exposes staff to contaminated surfaces as they wipe them down.
- Prone to human error as staff may miss disinfecting certain areas.
- Disinfectants might damage and discolor leather bags and plastic suitcases.
- Staff need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while handling chemicals.
My recommendation is to use a UV light to sanitize guest luggage.
Since many hotels utilize luggage scanners after the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka that targeted hotels, an Ultraviolet (UV) light tunnel can be affixed to the front of the luggage scanner. UV light or more specifically UVC light is known to kill bacteria and viruses in 10 seconds. As the guest luggage passes through the light tunnel and the luggage scanner, the Ultraviolet light will kill any viruses on the surfaces of the luggage and the then sterilized luggage can be handled normally.
This method has serval advantages over chemical based disinfectants as mentioned below.
- Less time taken to sanitize guest luggage.
- Less manual labor required.
- The light is contained to the tunnel, so staff and guests are not exposed to the UV light.
- Does not expose hotel staff to the contaminated luggage as guests themselves place their luggage and belonging on the luggage scanner conveyer belt.
- Less risk of damaging guest luggage as there are no chemicals involved.
- Lower long-term running cost.
Although the initial investment of this solution may be higher, hotels would not need to purchase chemical disinfectants and PPE. With the electricity consumption of this solution being minimal, the advantages of ultraviolet disinfection far outweigh the disadvantages of chemical based luggage disinfection.