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Five ways hotels can minimise pest control expenditure

Pest control is important for hotels on several levels. Customers expect to have an enjoyable stay in a pleasant environment and be safe and secure whether they are in a hotel room, bathroom, lobby, restaurant, bar, gym or other facilities in the hotel.

As a business, hotels have a duty of care to customers, employees, contractors and other people on their premises. This means pest control activities must be carried out safely and legally, by qualified professionals — even if it is by your own staff.

Hotels have to comply with a range of laws and regulations: health and safety laws, food safety laws and environmental laws. In addition, some animals that can be regarded as pests are covered by wildlife protection law.

The most expensive way to deal with pests is to do nothing until an infestation arises! You can minimise pest control expenditure by being proactive:

  1. Have an integrated pest management policy
  2. Monitor your hotel for signs of pests
  3. Prioritise pest prevention
  4. Listen to customers
  5. Use a professional pest prevention and control service

1. Have an integrated pest management policy

The most important step a hotel can take is to ingrain pest control into everyday practices by adopting IPM — integrated pest management. It is actually a concept used across many industries, first adopted in agriculture, as a common-sense approach to controlling pests that emphasises prevention.

IPM controls pests more efficiently, more effectively and with a minimal use of toxic chemicals, so is also safer for people — both customers and staff — and the wider environment. There are four major components to an IPM programme:

  1. Set action thresholds: what level of pest infestation requires action — starting at zero tolerance for food safety areas
  2. Monitor and identify pests: requires proper training and monitoring regimes
  3. Prevent pests: a wide range of practices and procedures to prevent access and deny sources of food, water and shelter
  4. Pest control methods:

Find out more about IPM for hotels.

2. Monitor your hotel for signs of pests

Train staff to recognise the signs of pests and make pest monitoring a part of everyday procedures, especially:

  1. Room cleaners to check for pests such as bed bugs and fleas. They are often brought in by guests, which makes detection a first line of defence
  2. Building maintenance staff to check for potential places of pest entry and signs of pest activity, especially mice, rats, wasps, bees and pigeons
  3. Kitchen and restaurant staff check for pests in kitchens, store rooms, food serving areas, around waste bins: including flies (house flies, fruit flies, drain flies), rodents, cockroaches and wasps

Standard procedures should include taking guests out of infested rooms and closing the rooms until the pest has been eliminated.

For bed bugs this can mean closing adjacent bedrooms — including above and below — to make sure they have not already spread through the building structure. Find out more how to check for and eliminate bed bugs.

3. Prioritise pest prevention

Don’t attract pests!

The best way to prevent pests is not to attract them in the first place. All pests need food and shelter, so if you make food freely available they are likely to smell it and come to eat it — flies and cockroaches see even drips and crumbs as decent-sized meals!

Rats, mice, cockroaches and flies all need to stay close to food sources, so if you keep providing food for them they are likely to take up residence in your hotel and become unwelcome guests.

The major measures to prevent pests in hotels are:

  • Food hygiene practices: including cleaning, food storage, waste storage and disposal — find out more about food safety for hotels and restaurants
  • Building and interior design:
    • ensures there are few points of access
    • suitable lighting, heating, ventilation and drainage
    • construction of floors, walls, ceilings, fittings, etc allows use of hygienic practices to prevent build-up of food material, dirt, mould, condensation
  • Building maintenance, to make sure building structure is kept pest proof, for example:
    • there are no gaps around doors and windows
    • screens are sound
    • pipe and cable entry points are sealed properly
    • roofs and gutters are maintained to prevent holes occurring, birds nesting and damaging the structure or leaks providing sources of moisture
    • brick, concrete and woodwork is kept sound: rats and mice can gnaw holes in a surprising range of materials and some bee species can burrow into masonry

4. Listen to customers

Customer experience and business reputation are all important for hotels and can be damaged in an instant through social media. This can rapidly multiply the overall cost to the business through loss of customers.

Turn a bad customer experience into a positive one by taking extra measures to sort out the problem to the customer’s satisfaction.

Have a plan in place to deal with customer reports and complaints about pests effectively, politely and quickly. It is often not the incident that upsets customers the most, but an inadequate response from the business.

5. Use a professional pest prevention and control service

The most efficient way for a business to prevent pests is to have a good relationship with a professional pest control company.

A professional service can:

  • Help you develop an effective IPM strategy suited to your needs
  • Minimise the need to take expensive and potentially disruptive reactive measures
  • Offer proactive services and solutions and expert advice to prevent pests and control them safely, effectively and legally
  • Offer unique technical capabilities backed up by expert entomologists and field biologists
  • Provide accurate reporting and records of pest activity and control measures for audit compliance
Find out more how Rentokil can support your hotel business — whether a single hotel or multinational chain