Mr. Copps

Eco-Friendly Practices

Five Hotel Amenities That Are Attracting Uninvited Guests

By Pat Copps, Pacific Division Technical Services Manager, Orkin, LLC

Travelers are often looking for a hotel that provides a home away from home with a few extra perks. Your hotel's amenities can be a key selling point and distinguishing factor for your property.

And while these amenities can appeal to business and leisure travelers alike, certain amenities present increased pest pressures too. It's crucial to pay special attention to high-traffic areas, especially those with food or water present as these are main pest attractants.

Without a strong pest management plan in place, pests can be concerning for hotel owners and management. A 2015 survey by Hotels.com found that complimentary breakfast and swimming pools are among the top four hotel amenities desired by travelers. While it may not be a huge surprise these amenities are crowd-pleasers, it may surprise you to find out how everyday activities taking place in your hotel can increase pest pressures. In fact, during the busy summer months when your amenities become even more sought after, those pest pressures will only continue to rise.

After record-high occupancy rates last year, the U.S. hotel industry is predicted to continue to increase occupancy rates to 65.9 percent in 2016, according to STR and Tourism Economics. Though pest management can slip down the priority list during peak travel season, keep in mind that this is also peak season for pests. Not only have pest populations reintroduced in the spring had time to mature, but also increased travel results in more ways pests can get inside your property.

Managing pests has become more of a necessity today as dissatisfied guests are increasingly turning to social media and online reviews to voice concerns about their stay. A strong pest management program can help you avoid pest issues and help protect your hotel's reputation.

Assigning roles to your staff and establishing a pest sighting protocol are essential in protecting your hotel from pests. There is always a risk of pest introduction through a guest's luggage, clothing or other personal belongings, but having an engaged and educated staff will help in identifying potential problems early.

It's much easier to manage pests when a proactive program is in place rather than handling a full-blown infestation, which can be costly if not eradicated immediately.

To help stop pests from negatively affecting your guest's experience, work with a pest management professional to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM aims to help prevent pest problems before they occur with a combination of stringent sanitation, education and facility maintenance. As a part of your IPM program include regular inspections and maintenance, especially in and around pest hot spots to help keep pests out.

Here's a look at five common amenities with conducive pest conditions and some simple, daily activities that can help keep pests out of these areas.

Complimentary Breakfast Areas

The buffet-style, complimentary breakfast is advantageous for guests, but can also be an incredibly convenient meal for pests like cockroaches, flies, rodents, birds and stored-product pests. This area mimics a kitchen areas in terms of pest pressures, but these pressures are amplified due to longevity of food in the area. To discourage pests from joining the buffet line:

  • Keep an eye out for food and drink spills, which need to be cleaned up immediately.
  • Cover any food that may be left out for an extended period of time.
  • Remove any leftover food items after breakfast and store them in sealed containers.
  • Regularly remove trash from the dining area to prevent lingering food odors.
  • Vacuum after breakfast hours to remove any remaining debris from the floor.
  • Clean and sanitize all tables and counters following breakfast hours.

Swimming Pools

Whether it's a family vacation or a lone traveler on a weekend getaway, the pool will certainly be in high-demand for the next several months. Pests, too, are attracted to the pool area because of its moist environment and readily-available poolside snacks. Flying and stinging insects such as birds, flies, mosquitoes, wasps and bees are of concern in this area, so be sure to:

  • Keep the pool area clear of standing water by using a squeegee or broom on the deck - particularly after it rains, to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This will also help ensure guest safety around the deck's slippery surface.
  • Cover and empty trash cans regularly and rinse them to prevent food debris from building up inside. Make sure to also eliminate any rainwater or residual moisture.
  • Regularly inspect indoor lap pools or heated whirlpools for leaks and pest activity. The warm, moist environment they provide can attract pests like cockroaches and rodents.

Fitness Centers

Your hotel's fitness center is ideal for avid athletes and those looking to squeeze in some exercise on their trip, but what else could be lurking and hoping to squeeze in through potential cracks in your pest management program? Similar to the heated whirlpool, the gym provides a warm, moist setting, attractive to several crawling pests. You can help keep this area a safe haven from pests by:

  • Mopping up any liquid that has gathered under machines and equipment.

  • Ensuring all cracks and crevices around the fitness center's exterior are sealed.

  • Regularly removing towels from locker rooms and sending them to the laundry for cleaning.

  • Installing an odor eliminating system. Pests are more sensitive to odors and can often smell them before humans can. Eliminating these smells will also help ensure the area stays fresh and appealing to guests.

Vending and Ice Machines

While your hotel may include a 5-star restaurant or gourmet bistro, sometimes it's more convenient to walk down the hall and visit the vending machine. You probably have several of these machines located throughout your hotel, but they are often an afterthought. Don't let them become overrun with pests looking for an easily-accessible meal as well.

  • Make sure each machine is regularly inspected and cleaned. Vending machines should have crumbs removed and residues wiped down.

  • Similarly, check ice machines for leaks or excess condensation and clean up spills as soon as possible.

The Hotel Bar

Don't let pests join the party! Sanitation in this area can help keep pests in their place. Take these proactive steps throughout the day, and especially while cleaning up at the end of a long night:

  • Ensure any crumbs from bar food are accounted for by vacuuming the floor as these can serve as late night snacks for pests, especially cockroaches that prefer to come out at night. Don't forget to look under the bar!
  • At the end of the night, remove all food items from the bar, including fruit slices, olives and other garnishes, and store them in airtight containers in refrigerators.
  • Alcohol will attract flies, so it's important to cover all liquor bottles and clean any surfaces where drinks may have spilled, including tabletops, counters and floors.
  • Rinse and re-cycle all empty bottles and dispose of cardboard boxes. Fruit flies can lay eggs in bottles, while cockroaches can use the corrugated cardboard as shelter and even eat the glue that holds boxes together. Your amenities should only enhance your guests' experience, so keep these tips in mind and work with a pest management professional to educate your staff and help keep pests from invading your hotel. That way, even as pest season heats up, you and your guests can relax and rest-easy this summer.

Pat Copps is a board-certified entomologist in urban and industrial entomology. He provides technical support to pest control technicians in Orkin’s Pacific Division. With more than 40 years of experience in the pest management industry, Mr. Copps has collaborated on various research studies and worked in a variety of different roles. He has held various positions in the pest management field, serving in technical, quality assurance and managerial roles. He has also assisted in the preparation and oversight of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs in agriculture, residential, resort, commercial/industrial, food production, and healthcare environments. Mr. Copps can be contacted at pcopps@orkin.com Please visit http://www.orkin.com/commercial for more information. Extended Bio...

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