Regular Facility Maintenance Can Discourage Unwanted Guests

By Frank Meek International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC | May 19, 2010

For many of us, the start of a New Year means another list of New Year's resolutions. We set goals and start over fresh, pledging to improve ourselves over the next 365 days. Many hoteliers will make their own New Year's resolutions, from "increase business" to "raise the value of our service." But one thing that can spoil the chances of your hotel achieving these goals is pests.

During the winter months, pests can pose a threat as they seek refuge from the harsh outside weather. In fact, some mice will gnaw through holes as small as a dime in search of shelter, food and water. In a recent poll Orkin conducted, 85 percent of regular hotel-goers reported they might never return to an establishment if they saw or heard a mouse. In the summer months, rodent pressure can give way to fly and cockroach infestations, which are also very off-putting to hotel guests.

To prevent these unwanted guests from entering your hotel, make one of your New Year's resolutions "to improve facility maintenance to keep pests out." Facility maintenance is one of the hallmarks of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which employs a variety of non-chemical as well as "traditional" techniques to manage pests. To uphold this resolution, work with your pest management professional to implement the following facility maintenance tips:

Seal off all entry points

Maintenance and housekeeping staffs can take quick and easy steps to reduce the likelihood that pests may access a hotel through windows and doors. Make sure the windows in every suite shut completely and remind staff members to keep doors shut as they are coming and going through storage areas, laundry facilities and the hotel basement. Install door sweeps and weather stripping to block entry along the tops, sides and bottoms of doors.

Don't forget that pests also can enter through tiny openings in the exterior of a facility and can even gnaw around tiny cracks and crevices. Seal any unnecessary openings with a weather-resistant sealant and ask your pest management professional to incorporate copper mesh or steel wool into the sealant to prevent rodents from biting their way through.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.