Tell Pests the Pool Is Closed

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

Summertime and the living is easy by the pool - unless guests are forced to swat pests while they tan. As warm weather brings mosquitoes, flies and stinging pests out in numbers, hoteliers need to prepare themselves to fight back and make sure their guests' relaxing poolside experiences aren't ruined by buzzing insects.

Take a Bite Out of Mosquitoes - Not Out of Hotel Guests

Known for their itchy bites, mosquitoes are one of the most familiar summer pests and probably the pest that receives the most attention. Ever since 1999, when West Nile virus first appeared in North America, transmitters of this virus have been kept under close watch - and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 3,000 documented human cases of West Nile in the United States in 2005, more than 100 of which resulted in death.

Even though there are other methods of transmitting the virus, scientists believe that mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then bite humans are the most common agents. Most people who contract West Nile never show any symptoms, but severe cases can result in flu-like symptoms, meningitis or encephalitis.

Mosquitoes will frequent a hotel pool for two reasons - breeding grounds are found close by and it's a buffet (of hotel guests). Mosquitoes can breed in any size of standing water, even as small as a thimble. While a swimming pool usually will not become host to mosquitoes because the water does not remain stagnant for long, any water that collects around the deck could become a breeding spot.

The best way to stop mosquitoes from becoming a problem is to prevent them from breeding. Hotel staffs should sweep away all water around the pool every evening and monitor flowerpots and gutters for standing water. After a female mosquito lays her eggs, it only takes a few days for them to hatch.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.