people in hotel bar

How your hotel might be checking-in pests without your knowledge

Julianne Bisognini

A typical day in a hotel’s life is filled with people walking in and out of the facility, the housekeeping staff taking care of the rooms, meetings and presentations being held in the conference space, food preparation, social life at the bar, and the fitness room and the pool area bustling with activity.

With such a dynamic environment, hotel managers should be constantly alert to potential issues that could interrupt their operation. Pests such as bed bugs, cockroaches, flies, rodents — just to name a few — can take rooms and other areas out of service due to infestations, treatments, and in some cases, non-compliance with health regulations. 

Understanding the factors that could be conducive to pest entry, harborage, and survival is the first step in preventing pest issues at your hotel.

Concierge service desk counter at hotel

How to prevent pests from checking-in

To help hospitality properties stay on top of pest-conducive conditions, Rentokil mined its hotel service data from 2018 to identify the top pest prevention recommendations made by our specialists to hotel customers. These recommendations include practical steps to build a barrier against pests at your hotel.

Keep doors and windows closed and sealed.

Not surprisingly, doors and windows are the main entry points for pests such as rodents and flying insects. Doors that give access to service areas are the most common ones left open, including those leading to the kitchen, laundry room, and trash area. Consider posting signage that reminds staff not to prop doors open while performing tasks or taking breaks. You can also install automatic door closers and window screens. For customer-facing spaces – the lobby, restaurant, pool – generally served by an automatic door, consider installing door sweeps and air curtains as an additional barrier to keep many insect pests from gaining entry.

Landscaping maintenance matters

Landscaping areas can attract and create harborage for insect and rodent pests that feed on or hide amongst shrubs, flowers, and plants or bury under ground covering. Mulch and pine straw are two common ground coverings that harbor pests when used excessively or not replaced regularly. Also, mulch beds and pine straws should remain pulled back at least 18 inches from the foundation of the structure. Trees, bushes, shrubs, and uncontrolled vegetation must be constantly trimmed away from the building. When it touches the building, it provides an access bridge to pests.

hotel rooftop

Roof and rooftops should be inspected regularly.

While some hotels don’t use their roofs as customer-facing areas, some hotels leverage their rooftops as the pool area for guests, outdoor bar areas, or even rooftop gardens. In these cases, water can be an issue if drainage and plumbing systems were not built accordingly. Leaks can also indicate needed maintenance or repair. Drainage issues or standing water can attract a number of pests, including large cockroaches. Other rooftops serve as the central location for HVAC systems, which can attract bird pests due to the warmth and shelter they offer. Nests, feathers, and droppings that harbor pathogens that are dangerous to humans and can result in air quality issues.

Repair any structural damage.

Water leaks, cracks, crevices, and small gaps on walls and floors allow pests to gain entry, especially when the weather conditions outside are extreme. Proper repair and regular maintenance like sealing cracks and crevices help to deter pests from entering the facility. 

Why pests are not checking-out

Once they make their way inside your hotel, pests will look for places to hide, feed, and breed. Some areas and conditions may allow them to settle and have an extended stay.

beer tap

Available food and water sources.

Fruit flies, ants, and cockroaches are attracted to exposed food, such as fruits, coffee cream, open soda cans, and liquor bottles. When not in use, seal and return those items to the storage or cooler. For beverage fountains, such as soda, coffee, and beer taps, clean up any spills immediately. Keep nozzles, soda guns and holsters, taps, and drip trays cleaned to eliminate the accumulation of sugary substances. Lastly, periodically flush or replace drain lines to avoid issues.

Not performing basic bed bug inspection as part of the housekeeping protocol.

Bed bugs thrive for blood meals, and wherever people are, there is a chance for them to settle in. That’s why proactive inspections are very important for hotels. These can be performed by staff members during routine cleaning to identify any activity at the early stages. If you detect bed bug activity in a room or other area, call your pest control provider immediately. They’ll conduct an inspection, properly identify any suspected bed bug, and determine the best treatment method.

Lack of equipment maintenance.

Standing water in the dishwashing area and under the refrigerator, missing or damaged seals and gaskets on ice machines, missing caulking around appliances and equipment, improper temporary repairs (i.e.,using a block of wood to hold equipment up due to a missing wheel or leg), and infrequent regular cleaning are some of the most commonly cited equipment maintenance issues in hotel environments. When machinery doesn’t get the proper maintenance and cleaning treatment, it creates a favorable environment for pest activity, such as small flies, cockroaches, and rodents.

Poor sanitation practices.

Pests aren’t merely attracted to the appetizing food and meals that humans consume; they can also be drawn in by the “gross” residue, debris, and trash that we leave behind. Any organic build-up might create a breeding site for cockroaches and small flies. Eliminate food debris in the sink, dishwasher, and stove, food spills on the floor, and grease buildup in the floor drains or around pipes. Pests in food environments can cause contamination concerns and even be visible to customers. In the back of the house, always clean under water heater housing, and remove trash at a minimum of daily. Wash trash cans, both inside and out, on a regular basis in order to remove residues.

Incorporating proactive pest management strategies can help you mitigate, eliminate, or address pest issues more efficiently. Partner with your pest control provider to develop a pest management strategy customized for your hotel’s unique needs. 

If you prefer, contact Rentokil today at 800.488.9495 or visit

Julianne Bisognini
Julianne Bisognini

As the Segment Marketing Manager at Rentokil North America, Julianne got the perfect role for an innate organized person: connecting tons of industry information with the business strategy, and understanding how the company can better serve the community. If you can't find her at home during the weekends, that's because she is probably outdoors, enjoying the nature and the blue sky of North Carolina.

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