For companies in the hospitality sector, pest control is becoming an increasing concern.
In what has been a trying year for businesses in the industry, experts anticipating a shift in the normal order of things have made predictions about the threat of pests to hotels, and how they might have a challenge on their hands in the coming months.
Marc Potzler, Board Certified Entomologist with Rentokil, said: “We’re seeing more rats in urban, suburban and rural settings because of business shutdowns.” The reason, Potzler claims, is because food sources have been cut off, so rats are travelling to scavenge for food.
As for bed bugs, we may not have heard much about them in 2021, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone away completely. “As people begin to travel again, we will start to hear about bed bug infestations,” said Eric Sebring, Associate Certified Entomologist.
“Bed bugs can be dormant for several months at a time, so they can emerge when a food source, humans, become available.”
This heightened threat of pest infestations should come as no surprise to seasonal businesses in the hospitality industry who shut down for extended periods, but it might take others by surprise. Because of this, standards may slip, which would not go down well with guests.
Ultimately, customers have such high expectations because they expect nothing less than a clean and safe environment, no matter the location, service, or type of business.
In the case of hotels, that might be the bedrooms and suites, the swimming pool, the restaurant, or even the hotel lobby – each area and facility must be managed to a certain standard.
Businesses have a duty of care to their guests, as well as their employees, contractors and visitors. This means that pest control and pest inspections must be carried out legally, safely and comprehensively.
If not done correctly, hotels risk falling foul of several laws and regulations that they are obliged to follow, such as health and safety laws, environmental laws, and food safety laws.
These differ depending on the state, country, or nature of business, so it is important to be on top of the latest guidance.
As expected, due in part to the current economic landscape, the cost has become a considerable factor. But arguably, the most expensive course of action is inaction, or the failure to act early.
As we covered in our blog post The Business Impact of Pests, simply doing nothing until a problem presents itself can lead to immense damage to the reputation of the company, the confidence of its guests and customers, the staff and the bottom line.
So to ensure your hospitality business is up to scratch, here are four ways hotels can minimise the impact of pests and safeguard their reputation.
1. Establish a proactive approach to pest control
Sometimes the most obvious course of action is the best one. Not attracting pests in the first place is often the best way to prevent them. It sounds easy, right?
However, it is still a challenge for hotels and facility managers. With so much to stay on top of, it’s not as simple as “don’t get pests”, it’s more a case of making sure every staff member is trained to be proactive and preventative from the outset.
Along the way, there are bound to be oversights leading to opportunities for pests to infest the hotel’s premises, but knowing is half the battle and mitigating any risk early on is paramount.
Poor food safety is a common way for pests to get a foothold, simply for the fact that all pests need food. It’s one of the more obvious vectors of an infestation, yet one that still causes problems for hotels all around the world.
Making food freely available on or near the premises, perhaps due to poor waste disposal, can attract pests. Pests attract more pests. To be proactive and prevent pests in hotels, staff must uphold food hygiene best practices at all times, including adequate storage, disposal and cleaning.
Another way is through flaws in the building. A regular building inspection as part of the overall pest control strategy will help hotels identify points of access that need to be rectified, or the configuration of equipment leading to a build-up of food, debris, mould, etc., or even the maintenance of the building structure, like pipes, roofing, and brickwork.
Being aware of these key points – food safety, good hygiene, and building maintenance – and also making sure that staff are eagle-eyed and proactively checking for the early warning signs leading to pests, will go a long way to minimising the risk.
2. Collect & analyse customer feedback
It is often the case that if there is an issue, your guests will be the first to tell you. As customers, we expect a certain standard when we hand over our hard-earned money for a stay in a hotel.
According to Statista, 52% of internet users aged between 25-34 have posted reviews online, and the number is growing along with the ubiquity of online reviewing platforms like TripAdvisor and Google Reviews.
While it’s true the majority of guest feedback is altruistic, serving to give others information about a service or facility whether good or bad, some feedback left by guests could offer useful clues for perceptive facilities managers.
Therefore, collecting feedback is an important part of pest control, though it would be ill-advised to specifically ask if the guest had spotted a rodent roaming the halls or bedbugs on their pillow!
Instead, hotels should simply pay attention to tell-tale signs mentioned in the reviews and feedback, like broken equipment, poorly maintained surfaces and structures, or obtrusive smells.
This sort of insight could prove to be crucial for early intervention.
3. Use an accredited pest control service
Before engaging a pest inspector, hotels will want to be certain that their reports will be comprehensive.
Asking things like “what areas of the property does the inspection cover?” or “what does the report include?”, will help facilities managers identify gaps in the inspection and reporting, or spot opportunities for the insights of in-house staff and other gathered evidence to feed into the inspection.
The pest inspectors will look for a range of issues, like cracks in walls, poor ventilation, potential plumbing issues, among other things. They will also inspect the walls, roof, and external structures, overhanging trees or foliage, and check for any previous pest infestations.
Facilities managers should attend the inspection as it’s a great way to learn more about the premises or get advice from an expert. At the end of the day, the most important part is finding a building and pest inspector who is thorough, accredited and reputable.
4. Implement a pest management policy and use technology
Last but not least, one of the most important ways a hotel can minimise the risk of pest infestations is to establish and implement a solid pest management policy enabled by technology.
Integrated pest management, as it’s more commonly known, seeks to embed fundamental principles of proactive pest control, using technology as a way to make things more efficient and seamless.
The idea behind integrated pest management is not exclusive to the hospitality sector or hotels, it is used across a range of industries. One consistent thing, however, is that it places priority on prevention wherever it is used.
Coupled with technology like Property Inspect’s end-to-end platform, integrated pest management becomes a well-rounded, efficient and empowering solution to a widespread problem, enabling facilities managers to monitor pests in real-time, collect thorough data and evidence, and report their findings all in one centralised tool.
To learn more about how Property Inspect empowers facilities managers to comprehensively handle pest control, book a demo using the button below:BOOK A DEMO