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Pricey Pest – A Debate

[box type=”shadow” ]During the Clean India Technology Week 2017 held at Hyderabad, hotel housekeepers and pest experts engaged in a debate to bring out the issues involving the daunting task of pest management which is not only a battle between the service provider and the pests but also one that involves the hotel housekeeper.[/box]

The panel of hospitality housekeepers, service providers and experts from the pest control industry included (L to R) Sulabha Vidhate, Executive Housekeeper, Ramoji Film City; Yogesh Deshmukh, Executive Housekeeper, Novotel Hotels & Resorts, Hyderabad Airport; Saravan Kumaran, Director- Housekeeping, Oakwood Residence Kapil Hyderabad; Moderator Avril Sule, Assistant Professor, Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai; G.S.S. Prakash, Consultants, Pest & Vector Management; Uday Menon, General Secretary, Indian Pest Control Association; and Sivakumar Somasundaram, Consultants Entomologist & Master Trainer.

There is a clear realization that there are likely to be gaps and shortfalls in the service delivery due to the fact that pests may make an entry into the property via different routes.

The housekeepers claimed that there was no on-site supervision by the service providers and the pest control technicians lacked training. It was therefore left to the housekeepers to deal with the unskilled technicians. The service providers claimed that every technician was put through a structured training because of the health and safety issues involved in the job. They blamed the housekeepers for allowing the quoted price to govern their choice of the pest control service provider.

It was suggested that the guiding norm for choosing the vendor should be that the company is a member of the Indian Pest Control Association and should be able to provide a certificate when it is asked for. Any contract that promises to eliminate pests is a fiction story… the victory of the battle is only momentary and the war goes on. There are many other aspects involving mechanical and civil changes that are required but when these are asked for, it seems as if the blame is being shifted to the engineering and housekeeping department of the hotel. This requires a committed co-operation and a timely co-ordination. It is therefore safe to assume that the word ‘control’ is inappropriate and the better term to be used is ‘pest management’. Housekeepers see this as a convenient excuse and say that the pro-active approach is lacking and that although there are inspections, they do not have the necessary impact.

Since the term ‘pest’ covers a wide variety of insects, rodents, birds, reptiles and animals, the task is fairly diversified. This gives rise to the concept of integrated pest management that covers both preventive measures as well as controlling and monitoring of pests and investigating the causes for their entry and reasons for their survival.

Pin-pointing the fact that Housekeepers seldom bother to update themselves and check the chemicals being used, the service providers suggested that the housekeepers be trained to audit the work of the pest control team. This provoked a quick repartee on the part of the housekeepers suggesting that the IPCA create an awareness about the right way to go about the entire process. The suggestion that pest control should be handled by the engineering department was quickly smothered. As a solution, the pest control providers suggested that the best way to function could be to work out the contract to the exact specifics including monitoring & supervision and including exclusions & restrictions that must be brainstormed and discussed. The discussion briefly diverted to the problem of dealing with snakes which seemed to be prevalent in Hyderabad. Seemingly, there is no chemical that can kill or repel snakes (though it is believed that certain plants act as a deterrent). Dealing with them works entirely on the preventive action of depriving them of food and hiding places.

In conclusion, it seemed clear that hotels must be willing to pay the price to get the correct service provider for their facility. In a generous gesture, the IPCA offered to provide a directory of approved service providers and an awareness program for hotel housekeepers.

The interaction between panel members was followed by a Question and Answer session. Members of the audience shared their experience and opinions.

Indian-Pest-Control-AssociationBy and large, the problem lies in the need for professional pest control execution. The industry demands a particular standard and the property standard determines how well the job is done. The ambiguity is caused by where the pest is generated. Therefore, the tender must be specific with a result-oriented approach in order to ensure that the best providers gravitate towards your company and when this happens you will be happy to pay for those standards.

We live in a world where the standards of hygiene cannot be compromised. With the awareness created by government campaigns and the widespread desire to acquire HACCP certifications, it is clear that even a guest appearance by a pest can completely ruin the reputation of a hotel and be detrimental to the occupancy rate.

Undoubtedly, partnering with the correct service provider is critical to successfully operating a hotel and expanding business.

Contract killing is defined as a form of murder in which one party hires another party to kill a target individual or group. This definition might very well fit the task of pest control. Needless to say, that any attempt to pay less in either case will result in a very shoddy job.

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