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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