The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has been keeping the world busy for a long time by now, and under quite a number of names: 2019-nCoV, nCoV2019, nCoV19, HCoV-19 and also – mixed up with the name of the associated disease – COVID-19.
It dominates the daily press as a headline topic, and reports about new, old, relaxed or tightened measures against the spread of the virus come thick and fast. Contact tracing is the new magic word, avoiding clusters is the top priority, and if a case occurs, tracking is the method of choice. So let’s hope that in addition to a beautiful parade of buzzwords, the alarmist mode will also do something good to public health.
Obviously, there are diverging expert opinions, but they all seem to agree on the fact that wherever people who do not know each other meet in large numbers and spend long periods of time in the same room, it becomes difficult. The gastronomy is particularly challenged, as a continuous flow of guests gather every day in the restaurants, cafés and hotels of this world.
So what can an innkeeper, a restaurant or hotel manager do to protect his guests and staff as best as possible? The restaurant, café and accommodation should continue to operate, but without unnecessary risks. What do authorities expect, what are the new regulations and restrictions we are going to face? Hotels and restaurants have to pull out all the stops, and that can be quite exhausting.
At Asteas, we feel with the more than 3000 hotels and tourism companies out there that use the IACBOX as guest WiFi: We do our best to show all possibilities of contactless interaction with guests in order to make life a little easier for the operators in these challenging times. Do you already know our 6 tips for contactless hospitality? We published them in early summer, and now in Corona autumn they are still a useful read.
Now, with the first regulations on mandatory guest registration coming up, restaurant and inn owners have to face new effort and expenses, and their guests more bureaucracy. If things go as usual, you should be prepared not to find any detailed, concrete instructions on how to implement such obligations in the respective regulations. Some angry tongues even claim that the practical requirements may not have been fully thought through in advance. Perhaps it is therefore not bad to deal with it in preparation, even if nothing specific has yet been decreed in your city, region or country:
- The purpose is to facilitate the tracking and tracing of cases of infection by keeping data on who was when, where and with whom. This can be done under legal constraint, but also voluntarily, for example as part of a hygiene concept.
- For this purpose, certain guest data is required – depending on the region – such as name, telephone number, email or home address.
- Additional local information such as table number or similar may be required in order to assess the proximity of other guests in contact with a possible case of infection.
- For this purpose, the date and time as well as the length of stay must be recorded.
- These data should then be kept by the operator of the catering trade for a certain period of time, which in any case covers at least the incubation period (currently between 2 and 4 weeks) and made available in case of emergency.
- After this period, the data that may not be used for any other purposes, should be destroyed.
- How the data is stored or destroyed and whether and how this is checked is completely open and is probably the responsibility of the operator.
- It is also currently unclear what happens in the event of violations, such as refusal to register, providing incorrect data or violations of the use of data or the obligation to delete. Fines are announced, but the legal basis and amount have not yet been fully clarified.
Nevertheless, we don’t want to concentrate on the ambiguities, but rather deal in a more constructive way with the possibilites we have to meet the requirements formulated so far:
#1. Pen and paper
Admittedly, that sounds a little old-fashioned, but it can be implemented quickly and – apart from the awkward feel and the data protection concerns that guests may have when filling in a form before they get a coffee – easy to use, without major technical requirements. The City of Vienna, for example, provides a form for download, but it can be assumed that there are no objections to self-designed forms that contain the required data.
The innkeeper should lay out the leaves and then collect them sorted by date. If a waiter or guest becomes aware of an infection, they must provide the authorities with the guest contact data for the period in question; after the retention period has expired, the sheets must be destroyed. Shred, burn, tear up, throw away for waste paper? This is up to the individual and is not specified in more detail.
#2. Digital and online
Software and web developers are agile people, and so there are already various services that offer guest registration as a service for a monthly fee. The innkeeper can easily set up an account online and receive a customizable landing page with a registration form as well as suitable capacities in an online database. The guest calls up the link to this landing page via a QR code, which the innkeeper publishes as a sticker, table display, etc. in his company. The service provider takes care of the protected storage of the data and the deletion after the correct deadline; the restaurateur can download the data if necessary and make it available to the authorities himself via his account.
Anyone who has a web developer in-house or is knowledgeable and likes or lend a hand can of course also build such a service and make it available on their own website. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the guest has a mobile phone and a mobile data plan allowing him to go online.
#3. With IACBOX
Anyone who operates an IACBOX has two fairly convenient options for implementing the registration requirement:
- With the help of the integrated Data Collector, mandatory fields can be displayed on the landing page of the guest network, which the guest must fill out before he can access the WiFi. This data is stored on the IACBOX, so no additional database is necessary. A deadline can also be set after which the data is automatically deleted.
- A registration service form can be switched as a redirect in front of the WiFi login page. This can be the service like mentioned above, or a self-built solution. The link for guest registration is entered on the IACBOX and the guest automatically lands there when he calls up the guest WiFi. That’s the clever combination with #2.
In this way, guests without a valid mobile data plan can easily register. For IACBOX partners, a brief instruction manual is available for download on the my.iacbox Partner Portal. So much for today on the subject of “pulling out all the stops”.