By Alanna Autler

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As the summer vacation season approaches, hotels across the country are implementing safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

At Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas, guests will notice social distancing markers, plastic shields and hand sanitizer in the lobby.

But consumers can also take their own precautions to minimize the risk of exposure.

“If they’re really concerned about that, I would definitely talk to the higher staff,” said Gina Spyropoulos, a travel advisor based in Dallas.

Spyropoulos said guests should call ahead to ask about the staff’s cleaning procedures, as well as how the hotel intends to handle communal spaces, such as buffets and open bars.

“I think it’s relatively safe to stay in a hotel at this time,” said Dr. Thomas Russo, a professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in infectious diseases.

Russo said travelers can minimize their risk by first wearing a mask.

“If you interact with other people in the lobby, in the elevator, in common areas or other close quarters for a long period of time, that will increase your risk,” Russo stated. “By far, the common areas are a much greater risk. When you’re in your room alone, the risk is close to zero.”

He added that consumers should bring disinfecting wipes if they are concerned about the level of cleanliness in their own rooms.

“I would focus on wiping down high-touch surfaces like door knobs to the bathroom, to the room, the remote control for the TV and flat surfaces like the bedside tables,” Russo said.

But the planning should also start before the reservation is even booked.

Russo strongly advised travelers against visiting any COVID-19 hotspots. That’s why consumers should research the infection rate of their destination city.

“Your risk of getting infected is in large part due to how many people in that community could be infected,” Russo said.

Hospitality analytics firm STR found that hotel occupancy rates have been slowly increasing nationwide since April, estimating the level of occupancy at 36% during the last week of May.