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How hotels, Airbnbs are making room for safety procedures

And why you should trust your gut when checking in

ST. LOUIS — Whether it's for a stay-cation in town or a long-delayed trip, spending the night away from home might feel more risky than relaxing during a pandemic. Hotel companies, which have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic’s shut-downs and travel restrictions, are working to ease reservations about spending a night away.

"Our goal is to deliver all of the service and the amenities that travelers have come to expect from us, we just have to modify how we've done it," said Alison Casler, Chief Human Resource Officer for Drury Hotels.

The Missouri-based hotel company will require social distancing and time slots for pool and gym spaces. Staff will regularly be health-screened and check guests in and serve breakfast while wearing masks and standing behind plexiglass barriers. The company has also partnered with cleaning company Ecolab to ensure surfaces guests come into contact with are cleaned and sanitized regularly.

“It is very noticeable, and I think it's important,” said Casler.

RELATED: Owner of St. Louis' largest hotel, decimated by shutdowns, is critical of local leader

From the coffeemaker to spare coat hangers, things that used to complete your stay and make your guestroom more comfortable will likely be gone at most hotels.

“The goal is to make sure every surface that's left in the guest room, every item, has been packaged and sanitized specifically for that guest and their stay,” said Casler. “And if you can't do that, then it probably needs to come out of the room."

She also said that employees will wear masks, but it will be optional for guests. The company also has hired a team of contact tracers in case they learn anyone who has visited a hotel has contracted the virus.

“We’ve chosen to certainly err on the side of being very cautious, communicating maybe more than necessary, but making sure that people feel comfortable and confident that if we do learn of a situation where a guest or a team member contracted the virus then we’re very clearly communicating that information,” she said. “We look to the health departments and the CDC as experts in this area, and we follow their guidance.”

What about Airbnb — and its network of private properties available for short-term stays?

"Cleanliness is our top priority,” said Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb.

In an exclusive interview with NBC's Today, Chesky said the company is developing rules for hosts, including sanitation procedures and 24-hour waits between guests.

Along with new compliance tools, Airbnb is counting on its ratings and review system to keep people accountable.

"Our entire industry of travel is going to be now held to a higher standard of quality,” he said.

But the industry hit hard by quarantine side effects hopes you check out the changes.

"We recognize that it will take some time for people to get comfortable, but I think as the restrictions start getting lifted and attractions start to reopen, people are eager to get out and travel,” said Casler.

Industry experts recommend you do your own simple check for cleanliness — does a room look clean, do you see masks, Plexiglas and other safety measures? Have staff told you about extra steps they're taking? And does it feel right? If not, go with your gut — and go find another place to stay. 

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