Phase 1, 2, 3, 4… whatever phase we are in or about to be in, they all have created new standards to conform to. But they’re not regulated federally. They can vary by the day, not to mention by state or even by town. The standards placed on hotels are especially difficult since they often house not just rooms but casinos, restaurants, and entertainment venues as well. Each of those operations comes with their own set of expectations, and the fact that they are all under one roof makes it extra difficult and forces hotel owners and operators to be extra stringent.
The most important thing an owner or manager in the hospitality industry can do is to plan now instead of waiting until there’s not enough time to do so. Plan carefully but keep it flexible. Your plans should include “if/then” scenarios so you can turn on a dime if necessary. Focus on the larger issues first – including sanitation and environmental management. Creating a plan for that will ensure you are taking a large step toward opening back up, and the higher standards you set can be a forever thing. We may not need to stay six feet apart for the rest of our lives, but who would loosen up stricter sanitation plans in the future? There’s no need. So, plan the one thing that will stick around forever first.
There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and knowing those differences will help you create a sanitation plan that will make employees and guests more comfortable in your establishment. Here are 3 tips to help:
Disinfecting -vs- Cleaning: Those two processes are not the same. The cleaning crew at any hotel is extremely important. Fresh towels, a sparkling toilet, and crisp, clean sheets are normal expectations, but we can all agree that we are not living in normal times at the moment. Pathogens that can cause diseases cannot be taken care of with cleaning alone. The cleaning crew can and should be a part of your sanitation program. Pathogens can be successfully forced down the drain if you use the correct detergents, but if we have learned anything from Covid-19, it’s that flushing some is not enough. The addition of a disinfectant treatment that not only wipes down areas but includes a mist treatment will help take care of more pathogens than just cleaning would have.
Reducing pathogens is a good start, but a professional disinfectant treatment, if it’s using the correct product, can kill an extremely high percentage of bacteria, fungi (pathogens), and viruses that cause diseases. The EPA has even created a list that has the names of products that meet their criteria to use against SARS-CoV-2 – that’s the causal pathogen of Covid-19. This list, called the “List N,” is comprehensive and includes products that should be used by professionals. The cleaning crew could use a product listed on the “List N,” but they will not be able to get to all the surfaces. Think about where a sneeze can land. All those surfaces should be treated, and the cleaning crew is just not physically able to reach them all. That’s why a professional treatment that also mists the product in and wipes down with the product at full strength can get to 99.999 percent of pathogens, viruses, fungi, and bacteria on non-porous, hard surfaces.
Using the right product: In addition to making sure to use a product on the EPA’s “List N,” you should know that disinfectants are microbial pesticides and are registered and regulated by the EPA. That means there is a certain amount of risk when you use them. Knowing the product that is being used, including its effectiveness and the associated risks, will help keep both the environment and the people around you safer. The product label from the manufacturer usually includes EPA-approved directions. Even though they are there, those directions can be hard to understand. We can lay out just a few important points to remember when you are either selecting a product to use or choosing a company to provide you with a professional disinfectant treatment.
- Understand the product’s toxicity level. The levels are “I” through “IV” (1-4), with “IV” being the lowest toxicity ranking. The EPA considers the toxicity category IV “practically non-toxic and not an irritant.” If you can find a disinfectant with that rating that is also effective against pathogens, viruses, fungi, and bacteria, that’s the ideal product to use.
- If Covid-19 is your top priority, the product should be on the EPA’s “List N” of products that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, like we said above. But Covid-19 is not the only pathogen you should be focusing on. The product should be approved for use against that pathogen – among as many others as possible. For example, the Waltham® UltiClean™ disinfectant treatment kills 99.999% of almost 50 common viruses, bacteria, fungi, and pathogens on hard, non-porous surfaces. And SARS-CoV-2 is one of them
- If your hotel includes kitchens or food preparation areas/surfaces, you will need to use a product that is safe for use on those surfaces. Many products are illegal – not to mention dangerous – if sprayed or wiped onto areas that come into contact with food. Again, we can use the product Waltham® UltiClean™ utilizes as an example. The product that treatment uses is rated “no rinse required on food contact surfaces,” category D2, by NSF International. That means there’s no need to rinse, wipe, or even wash down the area after that product is applied. It also leaves no film or residue behind. It just kills the bacteria.
It can get confusing and cumbersome to figure out on your own. So, bringing in a professional to do a disinfectant treatment is your best bet. Be sure to ask these three important questions before choosing one.
Is the product:
- Included in EPA’s List-N?
- Rated the lowest toxicity ranking by the EPA (remember, IV poses the least risk)?
- Able to be used on food contact surfaces and, if so, is it D2 listed by NSF International?
If they can’t say yes to all of them, continue your search for a company that can provide all 3 assurances – high effectiveness, low risk, and allowable on food surfaces.
Pest management is part of sanitation: It’s not just part – it’s a large part. And while adding disinfecting in addition to cleaning to a sanitation program will help mitigate pathogen risks and improve the overall appearance of your hotel, pest management will help the sanitation program as a whole. In fact, exclusion work and sanitation are the two major principles in pest management to help prevent pests in the first place. That is going to be paramount as your hotel looks to welcome guests back.
Pests are getting bolder since people have been staying inside more. Less people out and about means less food resources (mostly trash) for pests in cities. Because of that, pests like cockroaches, flies, and rats have gotten bolder because of their extreme hunger. Many of these pests have taken up residence inside hotels that are quieter now than they used to be. Experts agree that pest pressure will increase as all businesses look to reopen their doors. Basically, we will just need to find where the pests have relocated to. And once businesses do start to reopen and create normal amounts of trash, those extra hungry rodents and flies will be there in a flash. Flies, rodents, and cockroaches specifically are associated with being unclean. So, if a guest sees any of those pests, it won’t matter how clean your hotel looks. Getting recommendations from a professional pest control company after a technician does a detailed inspection can help you find and correct any pest issues you have before you reopen for good.
Even though bed bugs can survive for months without feeding, they will get super hungry. Right now, they are on the hunt for a blood meal and your guests will look mighty attractive to them. The best thing you can do is have a thorough inspection done specifically for bed bugs by a trained professional so that you can treat before opening. Bed bugs can be a reputation killer.
In addition to wanting to find the pests, you will also want to find out if they have done costly damage in your quiet hotel. If you use the correct pest control provider, their technicians will be able to identify those issues as well. Rats and mice commonly do structural damage as well as causing frayed wires from their gnawing. Structure damage is costly, but frayed wires create a fire risk. That along with the fact that they can make people sick from contaminating food make a rat infestation a serious problem. An inspection prior to opening back up officially will help not only with pests but whatever damage they may have done while left unchecked.
Inside is important but don’t forget the outside of your hotel. Many business owners had to make some difficult cost-cutting decisions during the quarantine. One of the cuts may have been the landscapers. Be sure to start services back up and have them come in to get rid of bridges for pests in the form of bushes that have grown too large and tree branches that may have grown long enough to touch the roof. Tall grass is a rodent’s ideal nesting ground and an insect’s ideal breeding ground. Also make sure the perimeter of your building is free of weeds and mulch by at least 18 inches. This will discourage termites from getting too close to your building, and they will seek easier places to set up shop elsewhere. There may be more cosmetic landscaping you will want done, but starting with these will help with pest control.
Your hotel is going through enough right now. Let’s not add to the struggles by leaving pest issues to chance. Have professional inspections done for pests and the damage they may have done now so they don’t get in the way when you finally open your doors again. But don’t have those inspections done by just anyone. Use a company that can offer proactive treatments as well as inspections for more than just pests. Even better if they can provide a professional disinfectant treatment using a product that answers yes to the three questions we mentioned above. You should also know that the same agency that regulates the pesticides Waltham Pest Services uses also regulates the microbial pesticides that are registered by the EPA for disinfection. There is a natural, logical connection between pest control and disinfectant services. Not only because the products are regulated by the same agency – but they are also both integral to public health and safety.
Waltham Pest Services can do it all for your hotel. We provide discreet pest control, but we also provide a disinfectant treatment you will want everyone to know about. And you can do that with the certificate and window cling you’ll receive telling the world you’ve had the Waltham® UltiClean™ disinfectant treatment done. That’s something your guests will appreciate knowing and just another way we can help bolster your brand.
Your guests and your employees both will feel confident coming into your hotel. A proactive approach will help you get there and work toward the ultimate goal: opening.