Complexities of Temperature Monitoring
Hotels provide comprehensive or all-inclusive services and lodging for a simple price. We assume, as guests, that all of the services are properly maintained. Nobody enjoys stepping into a ‘heated’ swimming pool as advertised, to discover that this is not the case. The bottom line for hotels and hotel owners is that these provided services must be both well maintained and constantly monitored.
But this is hardly an easy task, particularly for large-scale hotels with hundreds of rooms, multiple restaurants and other amenities that require a certain level of quality control. Refrigeration/Freezer systems are specific examples that shed light on the complexity of hotel services and upkeep; owners and facilities managers may have many temperature points to monitor for these units and many of them need to be checked on a daily basis. We recently spoke to one particular customer that listed 4-5 walk-in freezers, 3 reach-in refrigerators and a long list of monitoring points, all spaced out between two separate restaurants. This is the complexity: all “unmonitored” points represent the potential for sick guests (who subsequently document their experience on a review site), piles of wasted food in the trashcan (money wasted), or both.
A Walk-In Refrigerator: Who's eating those vegetables?
(photo credit: osha.gov)
A Walk-In Freezer: How much is at risk?
For hotels with multiple restaurants, the failure of even one refrigerator or freezer can have severe consequences. Food safety is the first issue. You may be harboring bacteria in your supposed ‘storage units’. This (sometimes) invisible bacteria from your units (from salmonella to basic mold) may survive the trip onto a guest’s dinner plate, and frankly, sick guests don’t make for repeat stays.
This is an issue of reputation, your ability to prevent sickened guests is directly tied to the success of your hotel overall. The actual taste of the food is a different animal and cannot be addressed until food safety measures and monitoring devices are properly installed and implemented. As a general rule, guests will rave occasionally about a great dining experience at your restaurants, but will almost always publicize their ‘sick’ening experiences in the worst way possible. A failure to monitor temperature (that leads to a sickened guest) can drive a sour review, even if their overall experience with the hotel was otherwise positive.
The other concern is loss of product. If your engineering team is checking temperatures once daily, you may be waiting 24 full hours before you discover that a unit is out of range. We recently spoke to a customer that described the painful and frustrating routine of checking temperatures in the early morning, only to discover the next day that the refrigerator/freezer had failed in-between the routine checks. By the time they discovered the failure, the meats and vegetables had been exposed to inadequate temperatures. As a result, the customer described tossing ‘thousands of dollars in the trashcan’ after getting rid of the affected food. This is a cost issue: your budget sheet should not contain a list of ‘losses’ that are related to inadequate monitoring.
In the end, both problems are focused around the same issue. Hotel owners and operators must recognize that there are many refrigeration/freezer points to monitor, and that each ‘unmonitored’ point can bring devastating consequences to your budget, or even your guests. Be sure that you’re outfitting all of your restaurants (under your hotel’s name) withtemperature monitoring devices and proudly list ‘food safety’ as an amenity.
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