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Clean and cleaner

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Where the previous lockdown buzz in travel has focused on armchair or virtual holidays, staycations, planning ahead, cocktail recipes or Zoom backdrops, the burgeoning new topic is hygiene.

With an end now vaguely in past-the-peak sight, this weekend witnessed various newspaper sections devoted to predicting the immediate future of travel. Much of it was, of course, guesswork. But consumer confidence is definitely likely to be shot, leading many travellers to emerge from all this far warier than before – and such wariness may well be assuaged in part by assurances of ultra-fastidious hygiene at a destination.

How can hotels convince would-be guests of their stellar cleanliness? How can Airbnbs or other peer-to-peer scenarios possibly promise a Covid-19-free environment? Does removing a middle seat from a plane add up to sufficient safety? Must hand-sanitiser be provided on tap, for free, for the next ten years? How long will it take Ryanair to start charging an extra £4.99 for it? Questions, questions.

For you PRs, a challenge looms in describing hygiene measures with any sort of seduction. This is not dissimilar to matters of eco-friendliness, a topic that is as well-trodden, repetitive and hard to enliven as it is utterly important and de rigueur.

I suspect hotel-representing PRs especially will need to be on top of each client’s hygiene game upon reopening, as some visiting journalists may need convincing. Personally I wouldn’t, but others might. But do such hygiene measures merit a press release? Only if there’s anything fun, unusual or extremely innovative to say, I think. Something that everyone else won’t be saying. Otherwise you risk being dull as dishwater – even if far, far cleaner.

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