Well hello, good morning, and welcome to what will be my final posting of this tour.
Just when you thought things could not get better…they did with a day that certainly matched if not surpassed our best effort in Europe. Prof Mike Potter was kept busy from about 7 – 10am with a series of about 6 press interviews and one lengthy piece to camera to round off what has been probably our most successful public awareness campaign to date. We have clearly had quite remarkable reach – for example when asked by a shop-keeper ‘what brings you to South Africa?’ and the answer ‘a seminar on bed bugs’ was given – the questioner immediately responded ‘hey that was on TV this morning and in my newspaper’ – certainly heightened public awareness on both this pest and indeed the role Rentokil has played in providing the education on this now very public pest.
At the seminar we had about 40 attendees from very diverse backgrounds including hospitality management (both big and medium sized brands), house keepers, public health workers, bed manufacturers, high end hotel auditors, and …wait for it… a representative of the local operational organisers of the FIFA world cup. This was perhaps the most engaged audience we have had anywhere in the world with all speakers really on form. The Prof did his usual ice breakers and warm up and then Pam and Terry played a blinder with the audience gasping in astonished concern when they heard the facts on bedbug growth around the world and in South Africa in particular. Terry then had them roaring with laughter at his Robbie Williams and Johnny Cash impressions (don’t ask!). By the time I got on to conclude, the audience was so warmed up it was the first time (except at the PC Board) where I have been heckled before I started speaking (by a bunch of rowdy but very much engaged housekeepers from a big brand hotel chain). As you might expect the Q&A was very lively and extended to almost an hour with all of the usual questions which then carried on over the lunch table.
A couple of very interesting things to emerge.
1. A detailed side bar conversation with the local government official representing the local organising committee of the World Cup highlighted some real issues and concerns about bed bugs in the large number of small B&B establishments which are being created to cater for the number of visitors to South Africa during the cup.
2. The inspector of high end hotels for Africa, Australia, and the US spent some time grilling me on the symptoms of bed bug bites. It transpired that she had almost certainly been bitten at one of the highest class hotels in Cape Town and this in her mind served to highlight that the purpose of the seminar was just and the content about growing issues true – she will be spreading this view to her editors.
Well that’s about it; the rest of my week will be spent on much more mundane matters as technician assessment, the job content of QA managers (including showing them the QA forms I pinched from John’s team last week – yes you can take the man from Liverpool but not etc etc) and finally discussions on H&S and implementing procurement savings.
I think we have had a really successful week laying some great foundations with a great team. Until the next time – this is your foreign correspondent signing off one last time.