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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