Well just finished first presentation day of week 2 in Dublin.
I have to say that this was probably the best session yet – not sure whether this was because it was in English, we are getting better at delivering what hits the hot buttons, or whether it is just a huge issue in Ireland and therefore stimulates a lot of emotion.
Format pretty much as described previously. Ken deputised admirably in Mike’s absence and Colm did a solid job with the technical story. We had about 35 people from predominantly hotel and hospitality, the health & safety executive from all around Ireland, and a couple of UK customers.
Lots of interest throughout the presentations but what crowned the day was a Q&A session that lasted over an hour with several delegates clearly staying after hours to discuss their issues. This served to demonstrate that hotel groups are still naïve about bed bugs and are also up for us to educate them in a variety of ways. I suspect that is something that regional managers may want to sit upon as it is a clear need from our customers. It will be interesting to morrow to see how Mike and team take and implement the framework developed by Phil, Randolph etc.
I sat with some customers for dinner and they were extolling our virtues and how much they had learnt and discussed if we could find a way of helping them to communicate to their Board how big an issue this was in their hotels; Alan was disappointed that we did not run a session in London and no doubt will be coming back to ask for this to happen in the UK.
Listening to and reflecting on the hotel people talk – I think there are probably also a couple of refinements we should build into our models
- The complexity of different types of rooms came up again (this time from the hotels – they acknowledged that different rooms were clearly of a more complex design and implicitly accepted that there should be a higher charge for these).
- After an ‘all clear has been issued in an infested place – we should use this as an opportunity to conduct more follow ups to ensure that whatever treatment we have used has been genuinely effective.
- One customer was comfortable (indeed this is their declared policy) with the idea of 5 visits over a three month period after an intervention for treating bed bugs and pay accordingly. They acknowledge that this is belt and braces but this is two more visits that we would traditionally anticipate for a bed bug contract – something for us to think about for commercial models.
- A lot of interest in receiving training on the ‘crisis management side’ of handing bed bugs and how to interact with customers when a discovery is found.
- An emphasis of what our technicians can do (inspections behind headboards, under bed, wall floor junctions etc) vs. what they could realistically expect house keeping staff to do.
We need a discussion of how to wean customers off ‘preventative spraying’ (which does not offer any real technical benefit) and move to the proactive inspection model. Phill you may want to pick this up with Ireland. Similarly Alain in France.
And finally – we have had a very good day with the media, in fact Mike felt that the positive PR that has come out of this session has more than justified the expenditure. We have done interviews with the Irish Times (anticipate publication in the Health supplement on Thursday) and a national radio interview for Sean Moncrieff’s News talk programme.
Some interesting statistics from the end of last week (thanks Mal) – In a week when world economies were on the brink, Rentokil’s Bed Bug Week was the most read article on the Guardian.co.uk website (122,000 UK readers). It beat ‘Israel asking for the green light from the US to bomb Iran’ – by over 20,000 readers!
We also got a mention that this on Radio 4’s News Quiz on Friday night / Saturday lunchtime.