When staying at a hotel guests expect high levels on cleanliness and it is extremely important for hotels to ensure that this is the case. Having pests in your hotel can not only be a public health risk but they can also damage your reputation and custom. Having a pest problem in your hotel can affect your guests in different ways including illnesses and irritating bites, definitely not something you would want your hotel to become known for.
Being in the hospitality industry means that pest control should be a high priority as having pests in your hotel can cause damage to the building, diseases can be easily transmitted and unsightly marks and smells can soon become a problem. There is a responsibility that comes with owning a hotel which requires you to fully protect public health by preventing any food contamination that could be caused by pests and making sure that the transmission of pest borne diseases can’t occur. If you are serving food in your hotel the food safety legislation states that businesses must take effective measures to exclude any pests found on the premises in order to prevent any food contamination.
The most common pest problem that hotels face are bed bugs and they are also the most troublesome. It is impossible to prevent bed bugs as they are brought in to the hotel by guests in their luggage and their clothing. They can also enter the hotel by other means such as hotel employees, laundry services, external contractors and can even enter the hotel in electronic devices or second hand furniture. Once they are in the hotel they can be carried via bedding and furniture as well as crawling from room to room via any holes or cracks in the walls. If a room becomes infested neighbouring rooms on the same floor and rooms below or above can very quickly become infested as well.
Once a bed bug has worked its way in to a traveller’s luggage or clothing they have no issues when it comes to surviving long journeys. Bed bugs are able to survive several months without the need to feed so they have the ability to move between hotels across the world and can even survive in a furniture store.
Bed bug infestations have become a lot more common over the past two decades due to the increase in international travel. Any guest who experiences bed bug bites are very unlikely to return to the hotel and with the increasing amount of people leaving comments on social media or review sites, one infestation could be very damaging to your reputation, even more so if the bed bugs travel home with the guest.
When it comes to bed bugs you need to be proactively preventing them by carrying out detailed inspections on a regular basis and implementing bed bug control measures, we would suggest that you have good maintenance practices to ensure that potential access areas for bed bugs through the building’s structure and fittings are removed, make sure you train your staff so that they are able to detect any signs of bed bugs (this should become part of standard room cleaning procedures), make sure there is a solid procedure in place should bed bugs be found in any of your rooms and make sure that there is a procedure in place should any of your guests complain about bed bugs.
As with many hotels there are likely to be food storage facilities which can be very attractive to mice and rats looking for a constant food supply. Rodents don’t tend to nest very far from their food so if you find traces of rodents in your hotel kitchen then you can be pretty confident that their nest will be within the vicinity. If there are poor food and waste handling practices in your hotel you will find that rodent population can be very quick to build up.
A rodent population can also come with a range of diseases which include salmonella, E.coli and leptospirosis which can be quickly spread if rodents have had the chance to contaminate food or any of the preparation surfaces. Not only can they damage your reputation and cause potential illness for your guests, they will also cause issues for you economically due to stock loss and damages to any fixtures, equipment or wiring which will incur repair costs.
All staff should be able to recognise signs of rodents, the most distinctive signs are:
-Noises such as gnawing, scurrying or squeaks
-Smudge marks along any walls, piping and cables
-Teeth and gnawing marks around any holes in the building or on food packaging
The best way to prevent rodents from entering your hotel is by ensuring that access to any food, water or shelter inside and outside the hotel is completely cut off. You should also be making sure that strict food hygiene rules are in place when it comes to food delivery, storage of food produce and ingredients, the preparation areas and the disposal areas to ensure that you are denying any rodents access to food and sustenance.
Property maintenance is also important to ensure any potential areas that could provide access to hotel are dealt with, for example any cracks or gaps that mice or rats could squeeze through, a pencil sized gap is big enough to let rodents in so make sure you are extremely vigilant when it comes to property maintenance. We would advise that any hotel owner should get in touch with a professional pest control company to ensure legal compliance and effective control is carried out to ensure rodent control is carried out correctly and to also protect your reputation.
Fleas can be extremely annoying for hotel guests due to how irritating their bites can be and, unlike bed bugs, they can pose a potential health risk as they can give their hosts a variety of diseases from the bacteria, viruses and the parasites that they can carry. Although fleas do prefer an animal host to feed on there are several types that will bite humans. Your hotel guests can be a high source of fleas, both human and animal, and other pests such as rodents or nearby nesting birds can also bring fleas within the property.
Once the host leaves, fleas will seek another host in the property and they will hatch eggs on animal hairs, human clothing or the sleeping area of the host which is the biggest reason why fleas can end up in hotels. Although it is difficult to prevent fleas from entering a hotel they can be controlled by ensuring a management policy is in place, once you have identified the source of the infestation make sure to carefully remove any infested bedding and either wash on a hot cycle, or if you want to even more vigilant completely dispose of the bedding, make sure you thoroughly vacuum the infested area and treat with an approved flea killer.
Stored Product Insects (SPIs)
Stored product insects include beetles, weevils, moths and mites and are commonly referred to as pantry pests. SPIs will infest food that is in storage, mostly dried foods including cereals, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, spices, powdered milk, tea and preserved meats. You can find all stages of the pest present in food at the same time, the eggs, larva, pupa and fully grown adults.
A stored product insect is most likely to infest products that have already been opened, however they are also able to make their way into packaging that they can chew through or crawl through the folds, for example, paper, cardboard, plastic and cellophane/foil. They are able to make very small holes to crawl through that can prove to be very difficult to detect. Food can be infested at any point but it is more likely to happen during storage so it is extremely important to ensure that any food products are stored correctly whether this is in tightly sealed food containers, fridges and freezers and always make sure that the areas you are storing the food is kept clean as any crumbs or bits of food left lying around in these areas are likely to attracts SPIs and other pests.
Insects can contaminate a large quantity of food which will make the food unfit for human consumption, this can be through physical damage, faeces and cocoons, SPIs can also introduce microorganisms to food which can cause further degradation.
If you find any traces of SPIs in your hotel kitchen it is important to throw away any food that has or might have been infected. We would always advise that you order quantities of food that reflect the amount that is used, this way you aren’t leaving food lying around in storage and minimises the chances of an SPI infestation, make sure that you always use older products first and use opened up packages before opening anything new, we would always advise that you inspect all food and packages upon delivery before storing them away, that way you can identify any problems before you store them in your own cupboards. Make sure that you never use pesticide sprays as these can lead to contaminated food products and if the pests are hidden away in packaging they are unlikely to have any effect.
When it comes to your hotel prevention is better than treatment so it is extremely important that you remain vigilant by ensuring that all areas of your hotel are kept clean, regular vacuuming to hoover up any crumbs that may have been dropped which can attract pests, a high level of cleanliness in food preparation and serving areas, regular room cleaning with all bedding washed on a hot wash, proactive building maintenance to ensure any holes or cracks in the structure are sealed up and training staff to recognise the signs of a pest infestation are all excellent methods of having a pest free hotel.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be completely out of your control if you become the victim of a pest infestation, especially when dealing with pests such as fleas and bed bugs. Here at Contego we provide a full pest control service which we operate in a thorough yet discrete manner so if you find yourself the victim of pests in your hotel make sure you get in touch with a qualified and professional pest control company to ensure the infestation is dealt with correctly and preventative measures are put in place to prevent the pests from returning.