As businesses prepare to reopen their doors and begin operating in the wake of COVID-19, they should consider the new expectations—and concerns—of their customers. Whether your hotel doors have been closed or you have repurposed your rooms to support nonprofit and government efforts, your hotel requires certain measures prior to re-opening to the public. What those measures are, however, may be less clear.
It may be difficult to discern where to begin when making these unprecedented business decisions, especially with 24/7 updates on the virus. Rather than wait to endure the potential consequences of a haphazard plan, consider orienting your re-opening process around key safety concerns, since the usual attention to hotel cleanliness will only intensify.
To better understand what to address when preparing your hotel for reopening, consider these three key criteria:
1. Know the difference—As COVID-19 has taught us, failure to properly disinfect your high-touch points can lead to the spread of harmful pathogens. This requires more-than-usual cleaning efforts. Hotels can boost these efforts by practicing frequent sanitization and disinfection. Knowing the differences between these processes is important, since terms like “cleaning,” “sanitizing” and “disinfecting” have quite different implications.
Hoteliers already know the importance of cleanliness. Cleaning, however, does not eliminate all germs. While cleaning with detergent and water can push some germs down the drain, lowering the risk of spreading infection and viruses, this act alone does not kill germs. A step further, sanitizing, reduces the number of germs on a surface. While more effective than cleaning at removing germs, sanitizing does not eliminate 100 percent of germs. That’s where disinfecting steps in. Disinfecting kills 100 percent of bacteria, fungi and viruses on both surfaces and objects using active ingredients. Disinfectant products destroy harmful microorganisms on hard, non-porous surfaces when applied at the correct strength in accordance with the product label.
Recognizing these critical differences, hoteliers can better prepare the surfaces of their hotel for reopening. Consider disinfecting your hotel’s surfaces after cleaning. Dirt and grime can create a protective barrier for germs, so a surface must be cleaned before it can be properly sanitized or disinfected.
2. Read the label—When selecting products to keep your hotel pathogen-free, read the label to adhere to the product’s intended use for the most effective results. Pay attention to the toxicity levels of a product. It is best to use a powerful, low-toxicity disinfectant to kill bacteria and pathogens that may be living on surfaces. Orkin, for example uses a powerful disinfectant to kill 100 percent of bacteria and viruses on hard, non-porous surfaces.
To help narrow down your product choices even further, follow EPA guidelines. The EPA has yet to officially approve any disinfectant product’s claim to eliminate SARs-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, since the virus is new, and the testing process takes time. In the meantime, however, the EPA compiled “List N,” a list of products that currently meet their criteria for use against SARs-CoV-2. These products are EPA-registered and labeled for use against a wide variety of pathogens. To make the most of your cleaning efforts, ensure the disinfectant used is included on the EPA’s “List N.”
3. Don’t forget the basics—Preventative measures, including pest control practices, are all the more critical now. In fact, closed hotels are experiencing even higher pest risks, since decreased human traffic allows hot spots to go undisturbed and unmonitored, inviting them to multiply. Very quickly, pests can cause expensive structural damage, injury to your business’s reputation and increased health risks for guests—all consequences no hotel needs, especially now.
Fortunately, however, there are steps you can take to help reduce your hotel’s risk of harboring pests. To help keep pests from entering your hotel in the first place, address your landscaping. When left unkempt, tall grass and overgrown bushes can house pests, and tree limbs can act as a ladder to your hotel. Inside, address communal spaces that provide pests access to food and water, such as kitchens, lounges, restrooms, and waste rooms. Since these areas are not experiencing the typical human traffic they usually do, they are at a higher risk. Additionally, adult bed bugs that survived quarantine will be hungry and seeking a blood meal, so consider a bed bug canine inspection prior to reopening.
Involve a Pest Management Professional
To ensure potential pest issues are kept to a minimum, consider involving a pest management professional. Pest control providers have been deemed an “essential service,” and for good reason. Continuing pest prevention services can help keep your property operating smoothly during this otherwise turbulent time.
Concerned over the transmission of pathogens, guests will want to know how hotels address their cleaning procedures. Taking active measures can reassure your employees and customers that you take their safety seriously. Following these guidelines can not only show your dedication to the needs of customers but also help your hotel return to business as usual.
Judy Black is the Vice President of Quality Assurance and Technical Services for Rollins, Inc. A board-certified entomologist and PMP Hall of Fame recipient, she has more than 30 years of experience in the pest management field and is an acknowledged leader in the industry. For more information, email JBlack@rollins.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.