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Bed Bugs & The Problem with Optimism

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Optimism may be defined as a mental attitude, a hopefulness and even a confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. While it is a wonderful character trait, an overly optimistic attitude can prevent you from planning for the unexpected. For hoteliers, a bed bug infestation is something you may wish to consider its unlikeliness optimistically. You may even adopt the position that “it won’t happen to me” attitude because you believe your hotel is: clean, high-end, expensive or doesn’t attract unclean guests who may harbor bed bugs.

When optimism prevents you from planning for the unexpected it can be extremely detrimental. Bed bugs are one of those unexpected problems that no hotelier wants to experience. Finding yourself besieged by a bed bug infestation in your hotel without a standard operating manual detailing how you and your staff should be dealing with the issue can be a recipe for disaster.

Dr. Michael Potter, a University of Kentucky urban entomologist, and his team conducted a study on the financial impact that bed bugs can have on the travel and hospitality industry. The research team set out to understand consumer preferences when choosing a hotel for business or pleasure travel and how the risk of bed bugs influences their decision. The results showed on average that a single report of bed bugs in traveler reviews lowers the value of a hotel room from $38 per night for business travelers and $23 per night for leisure travelers.

The impact of a bed bug infestation can go far beyond affecting the value of a hotel room. Other ramifications of a bed bug infestation may include: brand degradation (particularly if the infestation makes the news or is reported on social media), lower stakeholder value, higher operational expenses to treat the infestation, and lower hotel operating efficiencies.  One horrific scenario is when a hotel finds themselves in the midst of a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in relief.

Having a bed bug prevention program in place that includes an active mattress liner can act like an insurance policy against bed bugs. This 2-year case study of a preventive bed bug program in a large Metropolitan Hotel demonstrates how an initial up-front investment in preventive bed bug protection can save a hotel a significant amount of money over the long-term. An anonymous In-House Pest Management Manager for a National Hotel Chain commented, “…We get the necessary residual control for up to two years and we catch the majority of activity before it gets out of hand. I can honestly say we don’t call it a bed bug infestation any more, we just call it bed bug activity. I know it’s saved our hotel a lot of money by preventing additional bed bug treatments, taking rooms out of service and providing customers with complimentary rooms after they’ve encountered a bed bug infestation in their room.”

When it comes to bed bugs it literally pays dividends to be a realist. Bed bugs can be introduced at any time starting with the next guest to enter your hotel or the inadvertent entrance by your own staff. Be prepared for the unexpected. Get started with a bed bug prevention program today!