Accommodation managers have a lot of things to think about to keep their guests happy in a competitive market, and unfortunately smell is one of them.
If guests do not notice any odour to offend their nostrils when they walk into their room, or if there is an attractive scent, all should be well. But if there is something offensive in the air, the reaction could be instantaneous. No one likes that.
In a motel or rented apartment, lingering cooking odours are likely to be the cause, but not necessarily. Even in plush hotel rooms, guests’ cigarette smoke, unfinished or spilt room service meals, vomit, toilet uses, dirty nappies, body odour, personal cosmetics and other causes can leave hard to eliminate unpleasant smells.
But the cause can also emanate from the hotel itself. Cleansers, particularly harsher ones used to try to eradicate a spillage on the carpet or similar guest misadventure, can also attack a guest’s nostrils.
It might well be that neither the guest nor the housekeeping staff are to blame. Malodours can also drift in from outside, through open windows, and that can cause major problems as a number of rooms could be affected.
Either way, guests won’t want to stay there. It might not seem like a major concern to staff, but bad air can mean your guests might simply walk out, perhaps never to return – let alone recommending your establishment to others.
On the contrary, an attractive aroma can evoke pleasant thoughts and memories, and be part of that array of intangibles that might bring guests back again and again, and sing your establishment’s praises. Being alert for problems and taking a proactive preventive approach is likely to pay off.
Fortunately for our industry, help is at hand. Today the science of odour neutralising is very advanced. While the most common method of dealing with malodours was once with aerosol air fresheners, they had considerable shortcomings. Air fresheners often simply mask the bad odours with the use of a perfume. Once the air freshener fades, the odour will still be there.
In contrast, true odour neutralisers actually remove the odorous particles in the air. When you smell an offensive odour, the olfactory organs are actually coming into contact with airborne odour particles.
One particular method for eliminating offensive odours involves using molecules with a particular charge that have an affinity for odour molecules. Once odour-neutralising molecules are dispersed into the air (e.g. via an aerosol spray) and bound to the odour particles, the combined new molecule is much heavier than the odour particle on its own. The combined structure sinks to the ground, thereby preventing it from entering a person’s olfactory organs to be detected as an offensive odour. Odour neutralisers generally have no smell as such, but often a fragrance or perfume is used to leave the treated room smelling clean and fresh.
One of the most important things to remember when implementing an odour-control program in your establishment is that any attempt at odour neutralising will be in vain if you do not remove the source of the odour in the first place. If the source remains it will keep generating new odour particles that will disperse into the air.
Once you have a clean slate, so to speak, having used an odour neutraliser to rid the room of offensive odours and removed the source of the odour, it is a good idea to use a maintenance program that might include a perfume of your choice, combined with an odour neutraliser. Even though you may have removed the source of the odour, odours often remain embedded in fabrics, reducing the chance of the odour-neutraliser particles coming into contact with them.
The maintenance program will also take care of any new passing odours that may arise. Using a maintenance program will also allow you to ‘brand’ the experience of staying in your accommodation with a particular fragrance, rather than simply providing an odour-free experience.
Seek expert advice
As usual in situations that takes considerable expertise, it pays to seek the advice of professionals. With a 25 year record of providing solutions in the area of automatic odour control and fragrancing, Ecomist has become a respected commercial and household brand in New Zealand and Australia. When faced with an odour problem, Ben Payne, CEO of Ecomist, has a solution
“Situations where cooking, smoking, or potential pests have rendered a room unlettable can put the establishment’s staff under a fair bit of pressure, and until it can be resolved, they’re going to lose the revenue from that room. The most critical point for moteliers and other accommodation people is to track the smell to its source.
“However, while the source of the smell may have gone, we now have to deal with the lingering malodours. Our products are very effective. In fairly simple science, the molecules in our formula basically bind with the malodour molecules and effectively trap them, which is why you then actually eliminate and neutralise the smell, rather than just mask it,” said Mr Payne.