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Operations / Maintenance / Above Floor Cleaning
September 2013 Feature 2

One Foul Odor Can Impact The Bottom Line

Losing any part of the cleaning battle can have major financial consequences.

September 06, 2013
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From hotels to restaurants to fitness centers, most successful businesses employ aggressive cleaning strategies.

Despite this, it’s all too common these plans don’t always include preparations for dealing with unpleasant odors — proactively and reactively.

In today’s ultra-competitive market, losing any part of the cleaning battle can have major business consequences, and companies simply cannot risk losing customers due to risks that wind up being so easily mitigated. 

There are a variety of ways in which all manner of businesses can be aided by effective odor management strategies, including:

  • Reduced expenses associated with service call-backs
  • The elimination of costly customer service complaints
  • A reduced need for extensive outsourced cleaning
  • More efficient realization of desired results.

To understand how this works, let’s look at a few key business sectors.


Cleanliness is extremely important for hotels, so it’s no surprise that the most popular and profitable hotels employ the most stringent of cleaning practices.

But when it comes to odors from trash collection areas, food service stations or fitness centers, perception is reality, and the perception is “this hotel isn’t clean.”

If you browse online travel review sites, hotel reviews are full of complaints from guests who state how foul odors — cigarettes, mustiness, even cleaning solution — negatively impacted their stay.

The result is predictable: guests who will not return to a property, and perhaps worse — because of the importance of word-of-mouth business — guests who would not recommend the property to a friend.

And unlike a printed review with a finite timeline, the Internet is forever: Reviews left on these sites can cause irreparable damage, and in today’s economy, no hotel can afford that.

So as smell is so innately tied to the perception of cleanliness, effective odor management strategies can help hotels improve their brands and drive more repeat business.


Higher education has become a competitive business, and as with any business, foul odor can absolutely impact the bottom line.

The sheer mass of square footage encompassed by a typical college campus — classrooms, offices, cafeterias, stadiums, housing complexes, etc. — can be daunting.

These spaces, which may house any number of large student populations (with sometimes questionable hygiene), science experiments gone awry and fast food establishments, can be breeding grounds for nasty odors.

Odors of any kind can spell disaster across the whole of the university.

Imagine potential students touring a campus with their parents — who are now paying a high premium for their child to go to college — or potential donors coming head to head with unpleasant odors.

Chances are they will remember these unpleasant odor experiences.

If donors, students and parents are the revenue engines that keep a university running, think of foul odors as the gunky buildup that can slow the flow of money.


It doesn’t matter how many Michelin Stars a restaurant has, diners want to remember only one smell from their experience — the tasty food.

But no matter how clean or well maintained a restaurant is, some smells invariably make their way around: rank odors from wet kitchen mats, the lingering smell of burnt oven delights, even stale body odor from double shifts behind hot stoves.

According to a Harris Interactive survey, 85 percent of U.S. adults would never return to a restaurant with an unpleasant odor.

That’s a big number, and one to be taken seriously, especially in the age of social media.

No restaurateur wants to risk a bad review because of a foul odor, and in the merciless world of the restaurant industry, one bad review could seriously jeopardize an establishment’s reputation.


In casinos, gamblers are confined to a closed space that offers a mixture of odors from tobacco smokers, food consumers and sweating customers playing through a heater.

The mere fact that so many Las Vegas casinos continue to allow people to smoke indoors is astounding enough, but regardless of the cause, even the most aggressive cleaning strategies cannot counter such a volatile cocktail of foul odors.

Casino managers looking to keep their clientele pulling levers for as long as possible can’t risk having players walk out early because of foul odors.

To help combat these odors, casinos are known to add “custom-designed scents” to the pungent, smoke-filled air — trademark, tailor-made additives for which they become known.

But this does nothing to treat indoor air quality.

In fact, because of the toxic chemical compounds contained in most air fresheners, it makes it worse — especially for people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory issues.

To top it all off, the added scents are just layering a new strong smell into the mix creating a noxious mix of scents that make the air even more unpleasant to breathe.

Mitigating foul odors in casino settings cannot be left to chance: Sound odor management strategies are necessary to keep the high rollers coming back.

Fitness Centers

Fitness centers constantly court new members with slick marketing campaigns, special offers and one-time-only discounts.

While these promotions can certainly drive new membership, foul odors can overshadow even the flashiest of efforts.

The reality is that people smell, especially when they sweat.

Toss in the added moisture and steam from the showers — not to mention wet towels — and the smell factor dramatically rises.

Then there’s the odor left behind on equipment that hasn’t been properly wiped down, or the perfume and cologne, known to trigger migraines or allergic reactions, that some members may use in an effort to cover up body odor.

It is challenging enough to get people to work out in the first place; adding rancid air to the mix is just another barrier to getting people into the gym.

Employing proper odor management strategies is imperative for the success of most businesses, as odors can create business and PR headaches.

Creating odor-free environments, on the other hand, can provide tangible commercial and health benefits to customers and end-users.


Amanda Daluga is the national sales manager for the Fresh Wave IAQ family of natural odor eliminating products. Fresh Wave IAQ is a division of OMI Industries, which has been providing odor abatement solutions for industrial, commercial, and consumer markets worldwide.

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