What is a hotel guest engagement system

Hotel guests with allergies are no longer the exception

STUTTGART. Especially in spring there is an allergy alarm everywhere, because in the main pollen season the majority of the around 32 million allergy sufferers and allergically sensitized sufferers from the incorrect reactions of the immune system. So far, hotels in climatically favorable locations in the Alps or on the North Sea have benefited from the increase in the target group with the greatest growth potential. But the sensitized guests not only need refuge for the holiday season. Because more and more people, for whom the pollen caused a few unpleasant weeks years ago, suffer from year-round symptoms today. And indoors, the main allergic season begins with the heating season.

This phenomenon is not only a problem for those affected or their relatives, but also for hotels that are not set up for the sensitized guests. Because the growth in allergy sufferers is synonymous with the shrinking of the “normal” guest potential. And not only guests with allergies, but also their relatives prefer offers that offer them a symptom-free stay.

The reasons

Currently, more than a third of all Germans suffer from allergies. The likelihood that their share will continue to increase is great. Because today the human body is exposed to far higher levels of allergens than it used to be. Outside, longer flowering times and more aggressive pollen increase the susceptibility to allergies and within your own four walls there is constant contact with many allergy triggers. The optimized insulation of the building promotes the development of indoor allergies. The reduced air exchange rate leads to an increase in humidity, which means improved living conditions for house dust mites and mold. Synthetic substances such as synthetic resins in chipboard, plasticizers in plastic plastics and paints, odorous substances in impregnating and cleaning agents or flame retardants in plastics and synthetic fibers are also among the triggers.

The main problem for the hotelier: there is no such thing as a clearly defined standard size for allergy sufferers! The interaction of chemical pollutants in a new building can give the immune system just as much a crack as the favorite food or the persistent overdose of pollen. In this respect, there are countless ways of doing something wrong with prevention, but with knowledge of the facts, a hotelier can satisfy a large part of the guest potential with relatively little effort. The first step is to select suitable target groups for allergy sufferers. An example: the hotel initially focuses on the numerically strongest group: the atopics. Consequently, it takes measures that reduce the risk for guests with pollen allergies, asthma or neurodermatitis.

Prevention and prevention

The hotelier cannot change the development on his doorstep, but there are many starting points for allergen reduction within his own area of ​​responsibility. Many hotels have non-smoking rooms or zones, and if the foyer is also nicotine-free, then the hotel already has a bonus for the sensitized target group.

But even supposedly harmless substances can lead to skin rashes or shortness of breath. And in the hotel there are many ways in which a guest can come into contact with perfume, fragrances in detergents and cleaning agents or hair and skin flakes from animals. In particular, the detergent should be free from perfume. The reaction to hair and dander on pets ranges from rash to suffocation, so many of those affected avoid hotels where dogs are allowed (in the rooms).

The house dust mite

The main focus of prevention, however, is the elimination of invisible pets. The house dust mite feeds on flakes of skin and thrives wherever a person spends long periods of time. The small arachnids find optimal moisture and feeding conditions in bed. The microorganisms themselves do not trigger an allergy, but protein substances from their intestines which, after their faeces have dried out, get into the fine dust and thus into the air we breathe. In the case of neurodermatitis, skin contact with the allergen can also lead to reactions.

Upholstered furniture and carpets offer them less abundant living space, but they also require renovation if the location of the hotel is not well above the 1000 meter mark. A new building or a newly renovated building can focus on prevention, houses that were opened or last renovated a year or more ago should carry out mite remediation. There are two active substances that are largely or completely harmless: Benzyl benzoate (e.g. Acarosan) or products based on neem oil. The biological alternative makes every hotel room free of mites within a very short period of time. The annual repetition of the cleaning procedure ensures another year without mites.

Mite-proof covers for mattresses and beds are generally recognized as effective. The starting price for the traditional method is 60 marks, but there are also offers that cost 10 times as much. However, the price is a secondary decision criterion, because if the mite-proof coating does not meet two quality criteria, then it is only of limited use. The covers should let through as much water vapor as possible and at the same time let out as few allergens as possible. Only a few encasings can convince in both disciplines. The price for encasings that meet both criteria is between 200 and 250 marks.

For many hotels, the first and often only step is to purchase bed linen suitable for allergy sufferers. This is primarily intended to keep house dust mites and their excretions under control, but this can only be done to a limited extent with the practice that is common in many places. Because it is usually only opened for the respective night at the request of the guest. But sporadic use in changing rooms at most protects neurodermatitis sufferers from contact allergies; for asthmatics, the room in which millions of house dust mites have been secreting their excrement for years remains a dangerous matter. A hotel that works with encasings should keep the mite-proof covers on the mattresses at all times. If the completely closed version is used continuously, the air cushions may cause surprises for guests without experience with encasings. The hotel specialist Ecolife avoids the problem with models in the form of a fitted sheet. However, only the complete system offers complete security, i. H. In addition to the purchase costs for the encasings, there is the price for a multifunctional cleaning device, as well as detergents and cleaning agents without allergenic substances. All in all, the Ecolife system is an interesting alternative for hotels that want to get to their destination without renovation.

Another cleaning policy

The purchase and proper care of bed linen for allergy sufferers or the use of Bioneem is certainly a step in the right direction, but the optimal approach to sensitized guests also requires a changed cleaning policy. Avoiding harsh or intensely scented cleaners is just as important as retrofitting or purchasing a new vacuum cleaner. Conventional devices without microfilters are dangerous allergen redistributors. Suitable devices have a special microfilter (HEPA standard) or use water as a filter. Some devices not only clean different floor coverings, but also the air. Air purifiers are particularly suitable for removing biological allergens such as pollen, mold spores or mite allergens.

Even the best air purifier cannot provide a permanent remedy against mold in walls, building materials or furnishings contaminated with harmful substances. In these cases, there is often a greater chance of better attitudes towards the highly sensitive target group only after conversion or renovation.

Mold and other toxins

In addition to house dust mites, mold also benefits from the optimized building insulation and the resulting higher humidity. Its toxic waste products lead to sneezing attacks, allergic rhinitis, asthma and headaches. Mold is not limited to cold bridges or damp corners. It also thrives in ventilation systems through which it then gets into the air in buildings. This problem already belongs to another topic, the sick building syndrome, the disease-causing sequelae of modern buildings.

The better insulation increases the humidity and not only encourages mold and dust mites to thrive. Due to the lower air exchange rate, synthetic pollutants also stay better inside the room.

Two toxic representatives are part of the inventory in many hotels: flame retardants and formaldehyde. The latter is usually found in pressboard or veneer furniture. Textiles and plastics contain flame retardants that can cause nerve or brain damage. The nerve poisons in the interior also include pyrethroids, which are insecticides whose use is by no means limited to the garden. They are also said to protect wool carpets from pests. Wood preservatives not only bring neurotoxins such as lindane, but also chlorinated hydrocarbons such as PCP or the irritant gas formaldehyde into the interior.

Another negative factor can cause additional problems for sensitive guests: electrosmog. The dark side of electricity affects sleep and thus increases the level of the allergy messenger substance interleukin. Electrosmog also causes problems for guests that the classic allergens cannot harm. Reducing it is the key to restful sleep, a claim that guests in every price range make. Shielded cables in the sleeping area or the option to switch off the electricity are the safest ways of eliminating currents that stifle sleep. Avoiding sockets in the sleeping area or TV at head height also takes away the worst stress and improves the night's sleep for all guests.

Inventory problems

With many allergy sufferers, carpets have a very bad reputation. When it comes to combating house dust allergies, the textile floor covering does better than originally assumed, but even carpets that are absolutely mite-free may be contaminated with a large number of problematic substances, so that its use is only recommended to a limited extent.

The majority of woolen floors are mostly treated with the insecticide permethrin, not to mention other environmental toxins that have been introduced. Only carpets that have been consistently tested for harmful substances, such as Green Line (wool) or duroflor (sisal, coconut), are relatively unproblematic.

With recognized allergy-friendly floor coverings such as parquet, cork, laminate or linoleum there are risks that make the use of these high-quality materials a bad investment. So reduce z. B. the evaporation of solvents in the adhesive or in painted surfaces the positive properties. Solvents and plasticizers are also among the questionable ingredients in paints and wall paints. Mineral or lime paints mean the least risk. Both do not emit pollutants and also prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.

Undetected pollutants are a major underestimated risk. The determination of any environmental toxins present in the building is not an unnecessary expense, but a preventive investment protection. The problematic substances in the interior include z. B. formaldehyde in particle board, insecticides in wool carpets, flame retardants in textiles and plastics and environmental toxins in wood preservatives. But insecticides in the roof truss can also significantly impair the allergy-friendly value of a house.

There are also aids for determining sources of pollutants and allergens for household use, but the results of the self-directed measurement are more an indication of a possible need for remediation than a comprehensive protocol with clear instructions. This requires an environmental analyst or a building biologist.

Two providers promise not only effective advertising certificates for the entrance area, but also clear instructions and corresponding measurement protocols by experienced building biologists. The prestigious Institute for Environmental Diseases (IFU), Bad Emstal, awards a certificate with a high reputation among the target group. Strict controls guarantee compliance with the demanding standards; violations may result in the rating being withdrawn. The alternative comes from the same place: the Allegro allergy catalog offers suitable houses not only a certificate and a corresponding advertisement in a medium tailored to the target group, but also a measurement log with clear instructions for optimizing their own offer.

Cost as a decision factor

The acquisition of new guests is associated with investments. The only question is whether the commitment actually aims at the constant needs of the guests. For hoteliers who are looking for long-term security, responding to guests with allergies in good time is an opportunity with a future.

At most, a hotelier who saves in the wrong place is quickly out. Experienced hotel fitters put the additional costs for an allergy-friendly room at 10 to 20%. The individual allergy-free room can be calculated relatively easily, but with regard to current developments, the decision to design an entire floor that is allergy-friendly has better prospects. Because one thing is certain: the number of allergy sufferers will continue to rise in the next few years.