Carry On: How leading Canadian travel brands are welcoming guests back

Plus, travel tips from insider Suzanne Siemens.

Credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Plus, travel tips from insider Suzanne Siemens

Top airlines and hotels have always aspired to white-glove cleanliness, but now national and international safety and hygiene rules, plus the concerns of pandemic-fearing travellers, are elevating standards to the next level. For instance, Air Canada’s CleanCare+ program includes health questions and contactless pre-boarding temperature checks for passengers, customer care kits (including mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and water), masked staff, enhanced cleaning of check-in kiosks and counters, and electrostatic disinfectant spraying and hospital-grade sterilization of high-touch points on board. 

Canadian-born Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts quickly brought in rigorous new rules at its New York, Riyadh and Mumbai properties, which offered accommodation to high-risk medical personnel during early phases of the global coronavirus outbreak. Now it’s collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine International on Lead With Care, a health and safety program that includes hygiene officers on-property, sanitizer and mask kits for guests, digital menus and personal-touch service via its app and chat feature, while minimizing face-to-face interactions. A COVID-19 advisory board is creating and implementing cleaning and sterilizing protocols like blacklight room inspection, electrostatic spraying, ozone air purification and UV technology for HVAC systems.

Accor, parent company of Canadian-founded Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, created the Allsafe label for “some of the most stringent cleaning standards and operational protocols in the world of hospitality.” These include contactless check-in, guests sanitation kits, hospital-grade room disinfection and new food prep and service rules. Accor also gives medical advice and assistance to guests through a global partnership with insurance giant Axa.

Travel Insider

Suzanne Siemens, co-founder and CEO of Aisle, made a formative trip to Uganda in 2012. Formerly known as Lunapads, the recently rebranded enterprise is the sister company of Afripads, which provides sustainable, reusable menstrual products to girls and women in East Africa, where they often skip school or are forced to stay home during their monthly so-called week of shame, hampering educational opportunities and empowerment.

“Being in Uganda has helped shape how I feel about issues like gender equality and international development,” Siemens says. That might seem a world away, but she points out that one in three young Canadian women can’t afford adequate menstrual products, a statistic as shocking as the fact that disposable products still end up in landfills–hence the need to revolutionize the drugstore “aisle” where such goods are sold.

Sustainability is in the DNA of Siemens’ company, which is Climate Smart–certified and tracks and aims to reduce its carbon emissions. When possible, Vancouver-based Aisle shrinks its business travel footprint by videoconferencing and, of course, using sustainable supplies. “For me, travel has always been an essential source of new perspectives on life and business,” Siemens says. She always totes a portable battery pack, too: “Finding an outlet in an airport or a conference venue can be awkward, and a powerful charger will have you ready…on the spot.

20th Century Fox

Screen Test

This summer, Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) becomes the first airport to use so-called parallel reality screens. Powered by tech from Redmond, Washington–based Misapplied Sciences, the screens (with the help of sensors, machine vision, data and predictive analytics) allow each person seeing them to view tailored information, such as different gate and check-in locations or wayfinding signs, in many languages. Suddenly, the world of Minority Report is a reality, not just a cool inflight movie.