Keep Your Hotel a Summer Hot Spot for Clientele, Not Cockroaches

By Frank Meek International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC | July 31, 2011

With peak travel season fast approaching, both guests and pests will be flocking to your hotel in search of the same amenities: a comfortable room, fine dining and liquid refreshment. The warmer weather is particularly attractive to cockroaches, some of which are seasonally active and "check in" to hotels and other indoor spaces during the spring and summer. As the hardy cockroach develops tolerances to pest control efforts, it is more critical than ever for you and your staff to work as a team with your pest management professional to help keep your facility from becoming a "Roach Motel."

Profile of an Unwanted Guest

Cockroaches have been scurrying around uninvited for nearly 400 million years. Their innate ability to survive under any condition has made them one of the most enduring species – and pests – on earth. There are approximately 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide, about 70 of which live in the United States.

The most commonly encountered species is the German cockroach (Blattella germanica). It is small, about one-half inch long and light brown in color with two dark-brown stripes behind the head. The German roach can easily hitch a ride into a five-star resort on nearly anything, including guest luggage, pant legs and deliveries. The German cockroach also poses a major infestation risk due to its prolific abilities – while all cockroaches reproduce rapidly, the German roach can produce up to 48 offspring every 20 to 25 days, more than any other species.

The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is another common pest you don't want lounging around your hotel. As one of the largest indoor cockroaches, the American cockroach can grow up to one and a half inches in length and fly short distances. It is reddish-brown to brown in color, with a light yellow "ring" around the top of its head. Most commonly found in food preparation areas, the American roach is considered to be one of the fastest running insects and can dart quickly out of sight.

For hotel guests, any species of cockroach is undesirable. Smelly and nocturnal, cockroaches live in large groups, emit unpleasant odors and seek dark, moist places to hide and breed. Unfortunately, hotels provide ideal living conditions for roaches with their abundant sources of food, water and warmth, and often attract these unwanted guests. One cockroach sighting may signal hundreds more in hiding; because cockroaches are nocturnal, the few you see during the day were likely forced out by overcrowding and could indicate severe infestation.

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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.