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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.