PULLMAN, Wash. – Visible sanitization efforts remain a priority for American consumers considering eating out or staying in a hotel, according to a new survey of the hospitality industry led by Dogan Gursoy, Taco Bell Distinguished Professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University.
Consumers reported they expect both hotels and restaurants to provide hand sanitizer stations, rigorously and frequently clean highly touched surfaces, and require employees to wear masks. In addition, restaurants specifically are expected to limit the number of customers served and place tables six feet apart. Contactless payment methods are also popular.
“It’s also interesting to see that while customers expect employees to undergo a temperature check, they expect less for themselves to do so,” Gursoy wrote in the study.
Consumers who said they were likely or very likely to dine out as soon as restrictions were lifted increased from 21.4% between May 1-7 to 27.09% between May 24-30, when the second part of Gursoy’s ongoing study was conducted.
However, most respondents said they would delay dining out for at least an additional 3-4 weeks.
“Almost a quarter of the customers indicated that they will only feel comfortable to dine in at a sit down restaurant when their communities’ ability to test, trace and isolate COVID-19 cases is significantly improved,” Gursoy wrote in the study.
More than half of respondents indicated they are not willing to travel or stay at a hotel in June or July even if restrictions are lifted, though 31.5% of respondents said they would, an increase of 5% since the previous study.
Of the total respondents, 75.4% were not in a high-risk category, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. Only 14.8% were over the age of 55. The study surveyed 827 American consumers nationwide.