Widespread COVID-19 vaccination will be the key to the travel industry’s rebound, but questions arise around how one can prove they’re received the vaccine and how businesses will shift their hotel operations to accommodate people who have or have not received the vaccine. By the end of this blog, you’ll have gained an understanding of various vaccine certificate initiatives, and we’ll explore how to adapt your hotel operations to provide a great guest experience while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
What is a COVID vaccine certificate and why does it matter?
Since the COVID vaccine can be a traveler’s get-out-of-quarantine-free card, governments and travel companies are trying to figure out a standardized method for showing proof of vaccination. A digital vaccine certificate or “vaccine passport” seems to be the solution.
While implementing a vaccine certificate program might seem like a no-brainer, there’s debate about the privacy implications of turning over personal data and health records to private companies or foreign governments. Plus, it takes time to develop a secure, reliable app for widespread use. For these reasons, no one type of vaccine certificate has emerged as the top choice yet - although there are many contenders.
What are the popular certification initiatives?
Both companies and governments are working quickly to build vaccine certification programs. Several airlines, including JetBlue and American Airlines, are testing the CommonPass, a digital vaccine passport created by a Swiss-based non-profit. The International Air Transport Association is building the IATA Travel Pass, a mobile app that will allow travelers to show proof of their health status, find nearby testing centers, and securely receive digital test results.
But it’s not just travel companies in the race to develop vaccine passports; tech companies like Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, Apple, and Oracle are building their own prototypes. Even Ticketmaster is rumored to be working on their own vaccine certificate that will open the doors to arena-sized concerts again. With goID by ASSA ABLOY Group member HID Global, hotels and other travel-based locations even have the possibility to integrate vaccine certificate processes into the same platform that provides digital key functionality. This ability could be extended to also include vaccine certificate compatibility for Certified Partner app providers of Mobile Access.
Governments, too, are working on efforts to reopen their borders without letting the virus in. The Danish government will soon roll out CoronaPass, a digital vaccine certificate which will allow events and social gatherings to restart in Denmark, and Sweden plans to launch a similar program. More countries are sure to follow suit in the coming months, especially seeing as some tourism-dependent nations, like the Seychelles, are already welcoming international travelers who have received the vaccine.
Deploying a vaccine certificate strategy
Even if governments don’t require vaccine certificates, hoteliers have a responsibility to keep their guests and employees safe and healthy, which means you should have plans in place for guests both with vaccine passports and those without. Essential things to consider include:
- How to integrate the collection of vaccination records into your reservation and arrival process.
- Ensuring the ability to comply with potential local government vaccine certificate audits.
- Deciding if only vaccinated guests are permitted to stay at your property- a potentially attractive promotional opportunity.
- If both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests are permitted- updating your PMS, CRS and booking engine will be crucial in tracking who is permitted in which rooms and when.
- Your team may also need an easy way to track vaccinated guests - working with a staff collaboration tool like ALICE, HotSOS, Monscierge or Hotelkit will allow you to update cleaning standards and team SOPs in real time.
- Using guest messaging software can also help to communicate vaccine procedures at scale.
The most important thing is to work with nimble solution providers and tools that can adapt to ever changing regulatory and local requirements. Start with a cloud PMS vendor that’s got great support. They will be able to coach you through how other clients are implementing and will have built out features to support vaccination certificates.
Regardless of how you manage guests on property, collecting vaccine certifications will need to be integrated into your tech processes for compliance purposes. At a minimum, your front desk staff will need to be trained to request and verify vaccine passports upon check-in. Soon, third-party apps will likely be available for guests to upload their vaccine records and complete a verification process, which may be able to integrate with your PMS- providing both guests and staff with a seamless, always accurate and safe experience.