Defend Your Hotel Against 'Occasional Invaders'

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

Proper prevention of occasional invaders naturally starts by understanding a little bit about their behavior. They all have something in common. The outdoors. In most cases, they would prefer to stay outside, but when something makes them uncomfortable in their natural home, they won't hesitate to seek better quarters. Weather - too much rain, not enough rain, too hot, too cold - can encourage them to head for more hospitable environments. Scarcity of food sources or larger predator populations - often tied to weather patterns - also can drive them inside. So, when weather patterns get out of balance in any one direction, expect pests of all kinds to be more of a problem.

Of all commercial buildings, hotels make especially attractive targets for pests on the move. With around-the-clock foot traffic through multiple entrances, they can offer a multitude of opportunities for pests to get inside.

The next step is correct identification. Most hoteliers consult pest management professionals to correctly identify their occasional invaders, but not always. A pest problem may be recurring, making proper identification easier. The official list of occasional invaders in pest control textbooks includes "minor pests" like beetles, weevils, various aquatic insects, caterpillars, centipedes, scorpions and slugs, just to name a few. The actual list is much longer, and few of our hotel customers would call them minor.

If you or your staff have noticed unusual insects or rodents in or around your establishment, it could mean they are invading in large numbers. Typically, infestations have to be significant before the pest becomes a visible nuisance. Because many occasional invaders are seasonal, in some cases time could fix the problem for you, but guests and foodservice inspectors probably won't be willing - to put it mildly - to give you the time to let nature correct the imbalances that drove the pests to your door. As with most problems that crop up when running a hotel, this one calls for immediate action.

Applying pesticide to potential pest entry points is standard operating procedure for many pest management professionals, but it's not always the best way to control occasional invaders. Often, the best treatment is a non-chemical approach, especially for a hotel, where chemical odors or the sight of a technician with his applicator can be a major turnoff for guests.

For almost any pest, an Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, approach that combines several methods of control will get the job done with reduced pesticides. Eliminating sources of moisture or food is one part of the IPM equation, and keeping pests from entering in the first place is another. Consider the following simple IPM steps to significantly reduce your vulnerability to occasional invaders:

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.