A guest’s stay at a five-star hotel ought to be an exciting and enjoyable experience. However, my own visit to one such top-tier hotel—during a vacation in Mexico some years ago—turned out to be a bit too exciting. Inside the first room that I was checked in to, the carpets and the air had such a moldy smell that I could barely breathe, let alone relax. I wound up sleeping on the balcony the first night I was there—before being transferred to another, cleaner room.
I’m not the only one who has encountered this sort of problem. Poor air quality in hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts can be a major issue, especially for those guests who suffer from allergies or asthma. But as bad as the air quality can sometimes be in our rooms, equally stale is the approach that many hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts adopt to battle the problem: namely, with chemicals. Some of the chemical scents that are used to mask the odor of moldy air in lobbies and other lodging spaces can be annoying in their own right. But a much more serious issue involves how traditional chemical cleaners are designed to do their jobs: They aim to kill all of the wide variety of bacteria that are found inside guests’ rooms, whether that bacteria serves to harm or protect the health of the people who are paying to stay there overnight.
Enclosed environments—whether they be hotel rooms or human bodies—depend on a delicate balance of microbes to remain healthy. This helps to explain why the “take no prisoners” approach to combatting bacteria can be counterproductive. By seeking to destroy all of the bacteria in a hotel room, traditional chemicals wipe out a great deal of the beneficial microorganisms that are present in that environment. Worse still, the small percentage of bad bacteria that manage to survive each cleaning—even if it’s a few fractions of a percent—may have their resistance enhanced and may be able to thrive again in a more resilient, harder-to-eliminate form.
Recently published studies in two journals—Environmental Science & Technology and Science of the Total Environment—found that indoor dust is a reservoir for a vast array of chemicals with known or suspected health effects, and that the air we breathe indoors is often more polluted than that outside. So how can hotels create better indoor environments for their guests? Environmental Probiotics can be the key to helping guests have a breath of fresh air when they check into their rooms.
Some have looked to a novel approach to keeping a lodging establishment clean without throwing the good microbes out with the bad. This approach involves integrating substances known as probiotics into cleaning regimens. Probiotics are live microorganisms, long incorporated into certain foods and dietary supplements, that are intended to have health benefits. Whether utilized on their own or in tandem with existing cleaning strategies at hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts, this new technology—known as Environmental Probiotics—may help to ensure that the bacteria levels are kept properly in balance.
Capable of being dispensed into the air at regular intervals during the day, via automated devices that are commercially available in various sizes, Environmental Probiotics can clean wherever dirt, dust mite waste, bacteria and other allergens and pathogens collect. In hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts, these areas can include the inside of mattresses, under carpets, on remote controls, and in areas around the sink and bathroom. The probiotics, once distributed, set up their own zones on every surface they fall onto, thereby preventing bad bacteria from coexisting alongside them in large numbers.
A study in the Journal of Microbiology & Experimentation concluded that cleaning techniques using a probiotic-based solution containing spore forms of Bacillus spp. leads to a significant reduction in microbial load of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Coliforms, Pseudomonas spp. and Candida spp.
Hotels and other lodging spaces can be prone to new bacteria with every new check-in, as not only do bacteria exist in various areas of the rooms as described above, but guests also carry their own bacteria with them into hotels. Environmental Probiotics can be an effective way to keep your hotel protected on a real-time basis.
Can Probiotics Help Your Business?
The use of Environmental Probiotics can be potentially beneficial for a hotel, motel or bed & breakfast for several reasons. First, for owners of independent establishments or smaller hotel chains, it can be critical to differentiate the business from its much larger counterparts. Publicizing the fact that an establishment’s rooms are protected by Environmental Probiotics can serve as a powerful “green” marketing message. In an era in which a single negative online review has the potential to negatively impact business, this represents an effective advantage, especially if some rooms pose musty odors. It can also make an establishment look environmentally aware if a group of “green rooms” are available and set aside for the exclusive use of guests who indicate, when making a reservation, that they suffer from allergies and other conditions.
Second, Environmental Probiotics systems are relatively low in cost, fitting well within the budget of owners of smaller hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts. There are also plug-and-play models, capable of being set up in as little as 10 minutes without any specialized installation requirements. The devices are designed to operate around the clock; the only maintenance they require is changing a bottle containing the probiotics—a task that may be necessary every month, three months or six months, depending on size of the device used and the condition and use of the building.
Third, for lodging establishments of all sizes, Environmental Probiotics can assist in cleaning and maintaining the cleanliness of the air duct system. Traditionally, air duct cleaning has been an extremely costly and labor-intensive endeavor for any hotel or motel. Installing an Environmental Probiotics device to work in tandem with a hotel’s air duct system can not only ensure that the air being circulated is itself clean, but also can serve as a way to lower the probability that a colony of bacteria or other pathogen take up residence within the duct system.
For those hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts that have had positive experiences with their current cleaning strategies and wish to retain them, Environmental Probiotics can be helpful as well as an adjunct strategy. These establishments can now replenish the missing essential bacteria and may find that they wind up relying less on UV lights and HEPA filters, both of which are designed to rid an environment of bacteria without discriminating between the good and bad varieties. Additionally, establishments may find that the filters within their room air conditioners need to be cleaned less frequently, due to the improved environment.
Whether a guest is staying at the most modest bed & breakfast or the most palatial grand hotel, exposure to mold and bacteria should be the last thing on their mind. Environmental Probiotics is a technology that can go far toward making their stay not just happier but greener as well.
Taly Dery is CEO of Better Air North America LLC, market developer of the world’s first probiotic air and surface purifier. The company is dedicated to improving quality of life by bringing balance to indoor living and workspaces by replenishing them with beneficial Enviro-Biotics.