The consequences of failing to meet these standards could result in temporary or permanent closure, a fine or even a prison sentence.
But even if your hygiene practices are good enough to meet basic legal requirements they may not satisfy your guests, who are by now used to thinking with their feet if they are unhappy with their surroundings.
First impressions count
Research by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and P&G Professional, who recently teamed together to launch an industry-wide campaign to improve hygiene practices in hospitality, showed that the cleanliness of hotel rooms and public areas are vital to the enjoyment of a guest’s experience.
Nine out of 10 people questioned claimed they would not recommend a hotel, pub or restaurant that did not appear to be clean and fresh, while half said they would not return somewhere that delivered a poor first impression as far as hygiene is concerned.
With many hospitality businesses still reeling from the effects of the recession, Bob Cotton, chairman of the BHA, says that operators need to do all they can to attract and retain custom, starting with a customer’s first point of contact.
“Initial perceptions are vital to attracting and retaining business,” he says. “Those (businesses) that don’t pay attention to their customers’ first impressions may never get a second chance. It’s not enough for an establishment to be clean, to offer people a warm, welcome and happy guest experience. It has to smell pleasing too. A fresh and clean first impression can drive revenue, and spur business growth.”
While word of mouth recommendations are undoubtedly vital to a business’s success, a bad reputation can be equally damaging. Visitors to TripAdvisor.com recently slated the Grosvenor Hotel in Blackpool so badly that it topped the review website’s list of the top 10 dirtiest hotels in Europe.
When the Food Standard Agency launched its Scores on the Doors hygiene scheme last year, Michael Caines’ restaurant at the four-star Abode Canterbury hotel was notoriously given just one star out of five, ranking lower than the city’s Age Concern day centre.
Good hygiene plays just as an important role in a businesses’ success as service and food quality. As, bizarrely, 90 per cent of consumers would question the overall cleanliness of an establishment based on the state of the toilets, it is vital that operators consistently monitor cleaning procedures and adhere to food safety standards. Not only may they find themselves hit with a hefty fine or jail sentence, but as customers begin to notice flagging standards, business will begin to drop off too.
Tomorrow on BigHospitality we’ll be looking at what practical steps your business should be taking to comply with food hygiene legislation.
Read more articles in this series here.