The Key to Pest Management Success: Staff Cooperation

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

There's no doubt that the sluggish economy has battered the hotel industry. According to Smith Travel Research (STR), U.S. hotel occupancy rates dropped 6.5 percent in October 2008 and another 12 percent just one month later. STR's 2009 projections include a 3.5 percent year-over-year decline in occupancy to 59.1 percent - the lowest rate since 2003. Lodging establishments across the country are responding to the pinch by cutting jobs and reducing budgets. As a result, your hotel may not have the financial capacity to invest in third-party training programs for your housekeeping staff during the coming months.

In contrast to the declining economy, pest activity in hotels is on the rise. According to the National Pest Management Association, bed bug infestations have been reported in all 50 states, and pest control companies who once received one or two bed bug calls a year are now reporting one to two calls each week. With multiple entrances and exits and round-the-clock foodservice operations, hotels attract pests such as rodents, birds and insects because these environments provide all of their basic needs: food, water and shelter. The constant foot traffic of hotels appeals to blood-feeding bed bugs looking to hitchhike their way inside on unknowing guests' luggage and personal items.

Now more than ever, your hotel simply can't afford to be associated with pests. They can cause expensive property damage and carry disease-causing pathogens that can threaten the safety of your customers and staff. When it comes to hospitality establishments, even a whispered rumor can have a disastrous effect on business. The rise of guest-authored reviews on travel-related Web sites allows unhappy customers to spread the word at a much faster rate, potentially damaging a hotel's hard-earned reputation, frightening away guests and bringing on unwanted litigation and media scrutiny.

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program is an effective way to reduce pest activity in your establishment. As an environmentally friendly approach to pest management, IPM programs emphasize proactive solutions, such as sanitation and facility maintenance, to manage pest problems. An alternative to traditional pest control, IPM uses chemical treatments only as needed instead of routinely.

Since the IPM approach relies heavily on stringent sanitation measures, the cooperation of your housekeeping staff is imperative to the success of your program. It's critical that these employees receive ongoing education on the specific actions they can take to support your pest management efforts. Even if expensive third-party trainings aren't in the budget this year, you can work with your pest management professional to get your housekeeping staff on board with your IPM program with a few simple steps:

Step 1: Notify your housekeepers of your IPM plan.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.