Flies: A Health Threat

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

Most facilities are especially vigilant against the first two pests, so a guest might never encounter them.

However, flies are not nocturnal or shy, so we are used to seeing one as a minor nuisance in a hotel room. However, a fly in a food service area could quickly escalate into an infestation that could spread disease-causing bacteria to your guests.

Why are flies threatening your guests and employee's health, and what can you do about it? The University of Florida partnered with Orkin to conduct a study on the potential of pathogens being spread by flies. The research revealed that common house flies carry many bacteria, among them one that has been linked to meningitis, the first time the bacteria Acinetobacter baumanni has been associated with flies. Other newly detected pathogens from the study were Bacillus pumilus, which can cause food poisoning, and Enterobacter sakazakii, which can cause urinary tract, pulmonary and bloodstream infections.

Nine pathogens discovered on flies

University of Florida researchers, under the direction of Jerry Butler, Ph. D., grew cultures from flies collected at the back-door areas and rear dumpsters of four restaurants in Gainesville, FL. Within hours, the samples were swarming with nine different organisms. Researchers found pathogens that can cause peritonitis, diarrhea, typhoid fever, bacillary dysentery and staph infection. The flies also carried Escherichia coli and Shigella sonnei. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that shigellosis was one of the three most common food borne illnesses diagnosed in 2000. The overall incidence of E. coli O157 infections, which can be derived from Escherichia coli bacteria, has increased in recent years as well.

Results probably typical

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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.