191028-N-QY289-1001

Guests check in to the Navy Lodge Norfolk, Va. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) is expanding NEX in-store shopping and Navy Lodge guest privileges to eligible veterans and their primary-selected caregiver. The Navy Exchange Service Command is comprised of 14,000 personnel worldwide facilitating six business lines, NEX retail stores, the Navy Lodge Program, Telecommunications Program, Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility, Ships Store Program and the Uniform Program Management Office. (U.S. Navy photo by NEXCOM Public Affairs/Released)

VIRGINIA BEACH

The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Navy Lodge Program is slated to begin the Shipshape and Squared Away program September 1, to help mitigate contamination risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will be implemented to all 39 Navy Lodge properties worldwide and will include heightened sanitation and cleaning protocols to help ensure the safety of guests and Navy Lodge associates.

“Our first priority is to keep our guests and associates safe,” said Chris Settelen, NEXCOM Vice President and Director of Navy Lodge Program and DOD Reservation Center. “The Shipshape and Squared Away program came about mainly due to the COVID-19 requirements, but we also wanted to put together a program to show that we have increased our training, cleaning, and inspection processes.”

Settelen says that each of the 39 worldwide locations has increased safety procedures including the implementation of sneeze guards in the reception area to ensure Navy Lodge associates that often interact with guests will have more protection against contaminants. Face coverings are also required in all public spaces on Navy Lodge properties.

“We are making sure to emphasize the importance of face coverings, and to enter public spaces, a face mask is required, whether you are a guest or an associate,” said Carla Gutierrez, General Manager of Navy Lodge Pensacola, Fla. “With the Shipshape and Squared Away program, there will be signage to allow guests to verify what our heightened protocols and procedures include, like additional disinfecting, additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and an elevated focus on those areas.”

Many protocols were already in place under the Navy Lodge program procedures, but special care was given to guest rooms. A “seal” is placed over the door for the guest to break to verify that the room has been thoroughly cleaned.

“We will have a sticker on the door that verifies that the room has been fully disinfected and inspected for quality, and this sticker serves as a seal, and the Shipshape and Squared Away program requires that the guest be able to break this seal so that they understand that this room has been prepared for their safety,” said Gutierrez.

Along with the certification of inspection stickers, the Navy Lodge has minimized their contact with guests once they are settled into their room, considering some guests may be ordered to restrict their movement to help stop the spread of potential contamination.

“As far as our servicing of the rooms goes, we take into great consideration if the guest is on orders or under a restriction of movement, we minimize the amount of contact we have with that guest within the first 14 days, and that is something that we have incorporated earlier in our training,” said Gutierrez.

Settelen says that business has been steady, especially when considering the DoD restricted travel guidelines

“One big thing that we do in the Navy Lodge Program is we have a lot of guests who are on restricted movement, which is any DOD traveler who goes into sequestration or isolation from the installations and ships. We've had60,000 rooms sold for people who have been on restricted movement. Our mission is to take care of the military and we are doing all we can to take care of these service-members,” said Settelen.

With so many rooms being occupied by service-members the Navy Lodge has been seeing better numbers than that of the rest of the United States hospitality industry.

“COVID-19 has obviously affected hotels across the world and occupancies are much lower than expected and we generally would be running at a 90 percent capacity right now but we're actually running 82 percent. Currently, the US market is running 51 percent capacity, which is 20 points down from where it would typically be without the pandemic,” said Settelen.

With the new procedures in place and occupancies steady, the Navy Lodge Program has plans for the future that will incorporate these new procedures and use them to help better serve their guests as well as Navy Lodge associates.

“We do have these new cleaning procedures and moving forward we're going to be keeping a lot of these protocols in place and I think that it is an upside. It's keeping people safe and I think our teams are better trained and better prepared to make sure we are protecting everyone, not just the guests but our associates as well,” said Settelen.

Settelen and Gutierrez both seem to think that the procedures set in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be incorporated to better provide to the safety of Navy Lodge guests and associates. Gutierrez even hopes that these procedures that resulted from a pandemic could help citizens be more conscious of how they affect others.

“The pandemic has put into perspective that we do need to take care of ourselves,” said Gutierrez. “I think we get a bit too involved in our day-to-day schedules and we do not take into consideration that the state we are in will affect others. We are practicing more sympathy and empathy towards others and hopefully, it remains in place after the pandemic.”

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