Ensuring a pest-free environment is an imperative task faced by all in the hotel and hospitality industry. The existence of a pest infestation will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on an establishment’s reputation, employee relations and ultimately financial performance. Hotels can become susceptible to a number of pest problems including rodents, flies, cockroaches in kitchens and dining areas in addition to bedbug infestations which have become more prevalent in recent years due to an increase in international travel.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a pest control management system focused on prevention and using pesticides as a last resort option so as to minimise environmental damage and compliment health and safety practices. IPM requires a collaborative approach between hotel management, staff and pest control contractors. Essentially it is a set of principles rather than a completely prescriptive model.
Pest prevention can be put into practice by simple measures such as general good housekeeping and cleaning, storing foods securely and having training policies and clear procedures to help identify and record pest problems. Identifying the type of pest is critically important. For example a bed bug problem will more than likely require immediate treatment.
Arriving on guests’ clothing and luggage, bed bugs are no reflection on the cleanliness of a premises, however the damage they inflict can be devastating and it is estimated that four out of five hotels deal with an incidence of bed bugs on an annual basis – requiring costly and disruptive treatment. It is the one pest problem which guests specifically identify as a likely reason for cancelling a booking. Unfortunately, it is often guests who unknowingly bring these other invited guests with them!
It is extremely important to identify bed bugs as soon as possible, providing housekeeping staff the necessary training to help with this process.
A comprehensive inspection of the affected area.
Washing the bedding at a high temperature.
Using a “dedicated” vacuum for beds and other potential areas which may harbour bed bugs.
Once this is done (and if a professional treatment was also carried out) the area should be closely monitored to ensure that the pest problem has been completely eradicated.
Again IPM encourages a “preventive” approach by making hotels unattractive to rodents rather than the standard procedure of using bait and traps with toxic chemicals, some of which rodents are immune to. This can lead to the use of more and higher strength toxins.
It is important therefore to keep all potential rodent food sources securely sealed in containers including materials such as grass seed and pet food which need to be viewed in the same way as human food stuffs. Rats and mice aren’t too discerning!
Rubbish should be contained and emptied frequently. Seal any holes, repair pipes and protect drains and shores with mesh wiring or grates. Traps should be used, clearly identified and checked daily with rodenticide used as a last resort.
There is no universal accreditation for IPM practitioners at this time, but we would advise that as a hotelier that you should quiz potential pest control companies on how they implement IPM in practice, how the communication channels are used between both parties and practical examples of IPM in practice in the hotel sector. This will allow you to make an informed decision on choosing the right contractor for the pest control management activities at your establishment.