The impact of Online Reviews When it Comes to Pests

By Frank Meek International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC | June 17, 2012

Whether five stars or no star, no hotel is immune to pests and the negative impact they can have on its reputation. With the soaring popularity of technology such as online blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Americans are more connected than ever, making it quick and easy for them to share a negative lodging experience with entire networks of people in the click of a "mouse".

When it comes to pests, hotel guests are concerned about the presence of pests in the establishments they frequent, and with good reason. Pests like flies can drop off dangerous bacteria every time they land, and rodents can carry diseases such as Salmonella and E. Coli. Not to mention, many people have reactions to the bites and stings of pests like wasps, ants, spiders and bed bugs.

Do hotel guests blog about pests?

To determine the frequency of pest mentions on travel and restaurant review blogs, as well as the resulting impact of these encounters on guests' loyalty, Orkin, Inc. conducted a study with international hospitality and linguistic experts John Crotts, Ph.D., and Peyton Mason, Ph.D. The study revealed that hotel patrons are in fact blogging about pests and they have "zero tolerance" for these uninvited guests.

Using the Google blog index, Crotts and Mason reviewed more than 3.2 million blog postings about U.S. hotels and restaurants for mentions of pest encounters in 2008. Then, they randomly selected and analyzed 500 blog narratives using language analysis - allowing the researchers to evaluate the impact of pest encounters on guests' loyalty to those hotels, motels and restaurants.

"Studies of other types of hotel service failures do not compare to the reaction guests have to pests. In virtually all of the blog narratives we reviewed, attempts of hotel management to remedy the situation had no effect on recovering guest loyalty," said Crotts, primary investigator for the study and professor of hospitality and tourism management at the College of Charleston. "Unlike a rude employee, a meal served cold, or a broken air conditioner, observing a pest was deemed a failure management could not overcome."

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.