The Perception of Clean: Consumer Trust in Hotels Amidst COVID-19



trust, sanitation, safety, lodging, covid-19, cleanliness


The coronavirus pandemic had a detrimental effect on the hospitality industry along with shifting travelers’ perception of safety and sanitation of accommodations. This exploratory study sought to investigate the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as COVID-19) on prospective hotel guests by dissecting their perceptions and expectations for cleanliness before, amid, and beyond the pandemic. Additionally, this study examines how the COVID-19 pandemic altered travelers’ needs for safety and sanitation and identifies trust-inducing factors to help market and operate appealing accommodations post-pandemic. The analysis consisted of comparative techniques to source insights into travelers’ perception of safety and trust in accommodations. The results of this study contribute to the growing COVID-19 related literature by hypothesizing and testing how various factors influence post-pandemic guests’ needs. Recommended actions that contribute to a long-term trusting relationship between a service provider and guest are also provided for lodging operators.

Author Biographies

  • Suzanne D. Markham Bagnera, Indian River State College

    Suzanne Markham Bagnera, PhD, CHA is the Director of the Hospitality Institute in the Workforce Education Division at Indian River State College. Prior to arriving in Florida, she was the Assistant Clinical Professor and Chair of the Undergraduate Program in the School of Hospitality Administration at Boston University. A Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), Suzanne has had over 25 years of hospitality experience having held positions as General Manager at Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, Staybridge Suites, and Holiday Inn Express. Suzanne earned her M.B.A. and B.S. from Johnson and Wales University and her doctorate from Iowa State University in Hospitality Management. Suzanne is the Co-Founder of the Hospitality Leadership Academy.  Suzanne D. Markham Bagnera is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:

  • Alec N. Dalton, Hospitality Leadership Academy

    Alec N. Dalton, CRDE, CHIA, SHA’15, Questrom ‘15 is a service scientist specializing in hospitality quality and customer experience management. He currently serves as the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of the Hospitality Leadership Academy.  Previously, he served as the Senior Manager of Global Quality for Marriott International, improving worldwide guest experiences across nearly 7,500 hotels while maintaining on-strategy properties across 30 leading brands. He previously operated luxury hotels for The Ritz-Carlton and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. In 2018, Hotel Management Magazine named him to the “30 Under 30” list of rising hospitality leaders. Recently, Alec co-authored the international best-seller Customer Experience, a guide to experience-oriented marketing and operations.

  • Peter Szende, Culinary Institute of America

    Dr. Peter Szende has over 25 years of management experience in the hospitality industry in both Europe and North America. He joined Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration as a faculty member in 2003. Between 2016–2019, he served as the associate dean of academic affairs at Boston University. Most recently, he worked for two years as Programme Lead in Hospitality Management at Oxford Brookes Business School in the UK. Currently, Peter is a professor in the School of Business and Management at the Culinary Institute of America. Dr. Szende received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant in 2014.

  • Mark P. Legg, Penn State Berks

    Mark P. Legg, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at Penn State Berks. His educational background includes a mix of mathematics and hospitality management with a Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration from Oklahoma State University and a bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from SUNY at Buffalo (UB). Mark spent two decades building industry-leading analytical solutions within the hospitality industry while assisting organizations with wriggling out as much value out of their data as possible. His experiences include building out an industry-leading corporate analytics department for an international hospitality organization to directing database, direct marketing, and CRM departments for one of the world’s largest casino resorts.

Cover - Perception of Clean Manuscript






Academic Study

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