Atlanta-based digital health specialist Sharecare has collaborated with Forbes Travel Guide to launch a new health-security evaluation platform for hotels and resorts, which Sharecare claims can simplify the Covid-19 protocol confirmation process for advisors and other members of the travel trade.
"Travel agents, corporate travel programs and consortia [have to] ask hotels for their policies and protocols, and then analyze those and use that as a confirmation that the hotel is safe to visit," said Hermann Elger, a longtime hospitality veteran who currently serves as Sharecare's president of travel, hospitality and entertainment. "What this allows them to do is not even need to ask for that information. They can simply look for [Sharecare's] badge of verification."
The Sharecare health-security evaluation system centers on a checklist of nearly 300 yes-no questions, which cover topics ranging from health and hygiene measures to administrative and emergency response procedures. These include questions asking whether a property has a defined crisis response team on the property or whether there are procedures in place in the event a hotel has to deal with a Covid-positive guest.
The logo for the Sharecare-Forbes Travel Guide health-security evaluation directory.
The checklist is designed to be completed by a property's general manager or other on-site member of a hotel's leadership team. Sharecare and Forbes Travel Guide do not conduct an independent on-property inspection, with the system relying on what Elger calls a "culture of accountability."
"We're choosing to make the hotel take the responsibility for actually confirming that they're ready, versus putting that responsibility onto someone who's policing or inspecting," said Elger. "Because you're dealing with a very serious situation, there's no one that's going to want to take on that responsibility in place of the operating hotel property."
Elger emphasized, however, that any property providing untruthful information would be "taking a big risk," with operators unlikely to want to open themselves up to any potential repercussions.
Once all the criteria on the checklist is confirmed by a property, they're added to a directory and are able to display a Sharecare badge on emails, their website and across other marketing and communication channels. When a traveler clicks on the badge, they're directed to further information on a hotel's specific protocols and the date a property most recently completed the process.
The checklist is updated as guidance on best practices evolves, with participating properties prompted to reconfirm their status as the Covid-19 landscape shifts.
Four- and five-star properties that are already partner hotels of the Forbes Travel Guide network are able to undergo the evaluation process for free. Others must pay a subscription fee of $1 per room, per month to participate and maintain a verified status.
So far, the Sharecare-Forbes Travel Guide health-security evaluation directory has signed on just over 30 properties globally, including the Baccarat Hotel New York in Manhattan, Atlantis the Palm in Dubai and the Montage Los Cabos in Mexico, among others.
According to Elger, that roster is expected to scale up quickly. Internova Travel Group, which represents more than 65,000 travel advisors worldwide, has already forged a partnership with Sharecare and Forbes Travel Guide, bringing them on board to validate procedures and protocols at more than 50,000 hotels booked through its systems. In a statement, J.D. O'Hara, CEO of Internova Travel Group, called the platform "an important way" to provide clients "a recognizable certification."
"What this does, whether it be Internova or any other travel group, is [allow them to] get out of the business of analyzing health security protocols, and let Sharecare and Forbes Travel Guide do that," said Elger. "[We let them] get back in the business of selling clients amazing vacations and great experiences."