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5 Pest Resolutions to Ring in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions — the declarations we make at the beginning of the year in hopes that we’ll stick to them and see real change in ourselves. While most of these resolutions dissolve after a few months, there is one resolution that you should consider making and keeping – for your sake and the sake of your hotel guests. Stay resolute in maintaining proactive and effective pest management practices in the coming year. This can help you manage future pest problems, as well as examine your existing plan and build upon and improve it.

With so much traffic coming in and out of your hotel doors, it becomes highly susceptible to pest infestations. Your first line of defense against these pests should be an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM focuses on a proactive approach to pest management by using sanitation and facility maintenance to help prevent pests to begin with, relying on chemical treatments only as a last resort. While IPM should be the cornerstone of your hotel’s pest management program, there are a few other areas hoteliers should pay close attention to when planning for the New Year. Out with the old and in with an improved pest management program. Use these tips to help keep your pest management resolution in 2013 and beyond:

Resolution 1: Avoid Bad Word-of-Mouth
With hotel guests flocking to online review sites to leave their feedback after — or sometimes during — a hotel stay, it can only take one negative review to destroy your property’s reputation. According to USA Today, between 2009 and 2010, bed bug references increased 11% for U.S. hotel reviews on Tripadvisor.com. Negative word of mouth and unwanted media coverage damage more than your reputation: They can also damage your bottom line. With regular inspections and proactive maintenance of pest “hot spots” around your property, you can help keep flies, mice, cockroaches, bed bugs and other unwelcome guests out of your hotel. These hot spots include the lobby and other entrances, guestrooms, the kitchen, vending areas, the pool, laundry areas, the loading dock and the waste disposal areas. Your pest management provider can instruct you and your staff on preventive practices that can help minimize opportunities for pests to enter the hotel through these areas.

Resolution 2: Know Your Role
A strong relationship with your pest management provider is the key to a successful pest management program. Maintain an open dialogue from the beginning of the partnership so you feel comfortable reporting signs of trouble immediately. The sooner you alert your pest management professional to assess and treat a problem, the better.

Below is a list of responsibilities to help you understand your role versus your provider’s role.

Your Role:
• Make all areas of your premises available and prepare for service per your service agreement.
• Involve employees in pest management efforts by conducting regular staff training sessions.
• Some pest management providers may offer to provide staff training upon request.
• Promptly correct deficiencies noted on service reports, including facility maintenance, sanitation and landscaping work. 
• Train your staff to conduct routine cleanings that do not disturb pest management methods in place.
• Monitor and evaluate the service provider’s performance on a regular basis.

Your Provider’s Role:
• Provide regularly scheduled services.
• Perform comprehensive inspections during each visit and determine appropriate treatment methods.
• Provide written service reports after every visit, describing any areas that could promote pest problems and offer preventive and corrective recommendations.
• When called for, carefully select and apply pesticide treatments according to all applicable regulations.
• Post written notices of any residual-pesticide applications as required by the local regulations.

Resolution 3: Keep Bed Bugs Top of Mind
Your guests arrive at your hotel expecting a clean room, clean towels and clean bedding. What they don’t expect is to pick up bed bugs — hitchhiking pests that can lurk in your mattresses. In the past 10 years bed bugs have gained a notorious reputation in the hospitality industry for their resurgence. Due to an increase in international travel, coupled with more targeted pest management treatments in general, bed bugs are increasingly preying on a single food source — humans — in the most unsuspecting places. The appearance of bed bugs has nothing to do with the cleanliness of an establishment; five star hotels and economy motels alike have fallen victim to infestations.

Early detection of bed bugs in your establishment is critical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection. Your pest management professional should conduct regular bed bug inspections. Because these pests can travel through cracks and crevices along wall junctions and floor boards, your housekeeping staff should be trained to spot the signs of an infestation. If bed bugs are detected, contact your pest management professional immediately to inspect the infested room and discuss implementing the best service treatment option for your property.

Resolution 4: Implement Staff Training
Staff participation is the key to any successful pest management program. Your employees are the eyes and ears of your hotel – they play an important role in spotting early signs of pest activity. However, they can’t help if they don’t know what they are looking for.

Ask your pest management professional to conduct on-site training. This will help your staff identify key areas in the hotel that are prone to pest issues. The provider can also instruct your staff on preventive practices that can help minimize opportunities for pests to enter the hotel. Empower your staff to make an impact in your pest management program.

Here are some tips on how to get your staff on board with your pest management program:

• Establish a good rapport between your pest management professional and your employees so that everyone understands your pest prevention plan.

• Familiarize employees with pest “hot spots.” These are the areas of your facility — both inside and out — that may be vulnerable to pest entry.

• Sanitation is the best defense against pests. Ensure your food, either in your kitchen or in employees cafeteria/lockers, is stored in tightly-sealed containers and spills are cleaned up immediately.

• Make sure your staff can spot the signs of a pest infestation like rub marks, chew marks and droppings. This can help your pest management professional catch a problem before costly damage occurs.

• Set up a protocol for pest sightings. Identify key staff members and a clear communications process for reporting a pest incident so everyone knows how to respond should a problem occur. Be proactive.

Resolution 5: Know About New Pest Technology
Advancements in pest management have resulted in tools and practices that are less disruptive to the environment, limit the use of pesticides and are an overall healthier choice for your staff and guests. In order to find the best way to prevent and treat pest problems, hoteliers need to stay on top of the latest innovations and trends.

Talk to your pest management provider about the latest technological advances when dealing with a pest issue, and what the best solutions are for your hotel. It may help you save time and resources, and possibly help prevent an even bigger pest problem down the road. Some of the latest advancements include heat treatments — an environmentally-friendly option for penetrating deep into pest harborages — or canine detection, a process that uses a dog to sniff out live bed bugs and their eggs. There is also new mobile technology that offers on-demand, instant reporting and odor neutralizers, which help control persistent odors commonly found in commercial environments that house dumpsters and waste management areas.

Make a commitment to stick to these resolutions in 2013 for an efficient pest management program that will keep pests away from your hotel and guests.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is Director of Quality Systems for Orkin.  A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.  For more information, e-mail zsiddiqi@orkin.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.

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