Bed Bugs in Hotels

//Bed Bugs in Hotels
By |2019-07-24T17:36:46+00:00July 12th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Bed Bugs in Hotels


How to Get Bedbugs to Check Out Permanently

There are two words that can send a chill down most of our spines. No, I’m not talking about a ‘tax audit’. I’m talking about bed bugs.

Bed bugs are tiny blood-sucking parasites that like to hide in the corners and crevices of beds and feast on us while we sleep. While they are an absolute nuisance in our homes, bed bugs in hotels can be particularly challenging and can create legal issues for hotel chains.

The History of Bed Bugs in America 

Bed bugs used to be very common in the United States in the early part of the 20th century. But, with the introduction of potent insecticides in the 1950s, most of the bed bugs in this country became a thing of the past, and millions of Americans could go to sleep without reminding each other, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

But in the early 2000s, we began to see a resurgence of bed bug infestations in the United States. And they weren’t just creeping back into our homes; they were making headlines while making appearances in NBA players’ hotel rooms.

How bad is the recent bed bug problem? According to the 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association, 97% of respondents treated their environment for bed bugs within the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25% of respondents said they had encountered a bed bug infestation.

Bed Bugs in Hotels and the Legal Ramifications

If you own or manage a hotel chain, the last thing you want is a bed bug situation that can ruin your reputation with the public. That’s why it’s absolutely necessary to have a bed bug prevention and action plan in place.

Not long ago, the hospitality industry did not want to adopt bed bug action plans. To hotel management, this was akin to admitting you had a bed bug problem. But, in the last decade, numerous hotels have had to find out the hard way that not having an action plan can result in litigation and losing your good reputation with consumers.

In fact, legal experts have noticed a rise in bed bug litigation cases where guests sue hotels large sums of money. Consider some startling statistics from Orkin’s recent “Behind the Cost of bed Bugs – Hospitality Industry Report”:

  • Nearly half of the hotels surveyed had been subject to litigation because of bed bugs.

  • One in five were party to a lawsuit in the past year.

  • The average cost of litigation costs were, on average, $17,177 per incident. Combine these costs with the cost to remediate a bed bug infestation and a hotel could find themselves shelling out upwards of $23,000 per bed bug incident.

All it takes is a single report of bed bugs for your good name to become tarnished and the value of your hotel rooms to drop significantly. Consider another report on the economic impact of bed bugs in hotels that found bed bugs can reduce the value of a hotel room by $21 for leisure travelers and $38 for business travelers.

But these are only some of the costs of a bed bug infestation. You can also expect:

  • Lower stakeholder value

  • Increased operational expenses

  • Cost of replacing inventory

What is a Hotel’s Legal Obligation for Bed Bugs?

Currently no federal bed bug laws exist, but several states have passed legislation concerning bed bugs in hotels and management’s obligations to keep guests safe. So far California, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia have enforced some form of bedbug-specific law that outlines cleanliness measures to prevent infestation.

However, under common law, all hotel managers share a responsibility to use “reasonable care” to promote guest safety. Since bed bugs pose well-known hazard to health and safety in the form of bites, allergic reactions to those bites and permanent scarring, hotel management is expected to clean, fumigate, disinfect and exterminate any known bed bug infestation.

And that is an important word right there: known – a known bed bug infestation. But management can’t wait for guests to point out bed bugs, because at that point your reputation and revenue is already at stake.

Let’s take a look at how hotel management, staff and the professional extermination companies they use can do a deep dive investigation to spot bed bugs before guests do.

Bed Bug Steamers Fill the Gap: Heat Treatments vs Chemical Treatments
*Average daily rate of hotels in the United States from 2001 to 2016 in USD. Statista, 2017.

How to Spot Bed Bugs in Hotels

No matter how clean you think your hotel, motel or resort is, it can be impossible to keep bed bugs out of your guest rooms. With the number of people from around the country, and potentially the world, that may visit your location on any given week, it will be next to impossible to ensure a bed bug never steps their disgusting little feet into your establishment. For this reason, you’ve got to be proactive and routinely search your premises for a potential infestation.

They can be hard to spot, because bed bugs’ bodies are flat and easily fit into small spaces and the folds of carpet, bed linens and upholstered chairs. The good news is, bed bugs always leave clues of their presence if you know what to look for.

Start by looking around the baseboards and along the bottoms of walls for signs of bed bugs. You’ll want to look specifically for black or rusty-colored smears on the wallpaper or plaster.

Next, shine a flashlight into all the small crevices between the baseboards and wall to see if you can detect any of the critters themselves. Bed bugs resemble ticks, are reddish-brown in color and are about 1/5 of an inch in length.

You’ll want to then move to the bed and pull back the corners of the linens to get a look at the mattress. Again, look very closely for any brown, black or rusty discoloration on the mattress as well as sniff for the smell of bed bug excrement. It has a sweet almost mildew-like scent.

Next, look underneath the mattress for bugs and bug excrement/stains.  And give the area underneath the mattress another smell test.

Finally, lift any cushions on chairs and sofas to look in the crevices and fabric folds for signs of bed bugs. A flashlight will most likely be necessary to see well. The light will also cause bed bugs to scatter. Sometimes it’s easier to see bugs in motion than when remaining still.

This bed bug check should be done each time a room is serviced by cleaning staff. If no bugs are found, you may breathe a small sigh of relief, but don’t become complacent. One single guest can bring in bed bugs and before you know it, you can have an infestation that can ruin your reputation and cause you to lose revenue. Keep in mind that ONE SINGLE female bed bug can lay HUNDREDS of eggs, which means generations of bed bugs year after year if not found and exterminated.

Seek Professional Help

It is important to note that no hotel employee should ever attempt to treat a bed bug infestation themselves. Applying pesticides inside of a hotel without a certified applicator can get you fined and sued. On top of that, if you don’t know what you are doing, you will most likely not make the situation better and may even make it worse. Always seek the professional help of an exterminator who has experience treating bed bug infestations.

Bed Bugs in Hotels – Prevention Tips

We don’t want this blog post to come across as all doom and gloom. There are some things you can do to actively prevent and/or eliminate bed bug infestations in your establishment. Click the boxes below to read more!

Educate Staff

Train your first line of defense

Your absolute best line of defense in the fight against bed bugs is your staff. Take time to educate your employees on how to spot bed bugs and best practices to prevent an infestation.

Use Preventative Measures

Catch Problems Early

Beyond daily room checks, there are other preventative measures you should look into. For example, consider using sealed mattress and pillow casements that can inhibit a bed bug infestation taking hold. Again, work with an experienced extermination company who can offer more preventative strategies to implement.

Document Everything

Keep careful notes

When it comes to protecting your establishment from an infestation, proper documentation is critical. You’ll want to track reports of customer complaints as well as inspections and treatments by professional exterminators. Keeping track of previous incidences and areas of infestation can help you develop an effective strategy to eliminate the problem.

Careful Elimination

Employ effective elimination methods

Beyond frequent extermination treatments, you’ll want to have cleaning staff give extra attention to vacuuming each room. Also have them carefully check vacuum brushes to ensure no bugs are caught in rollers and moved from room to room. You can also use the Polti Cimex Eradicator to both sanitize sheets and kill any adult bed bugs or eggs. A professional exterminator can offer other cleaning pointers.

Bed bugs in hotels is nothing to take lightly. One guest complaint, let alone legal action, can tarnish your reputation for years and cause revenue loss. Creating and diligently following an action plan will help you prevent an infestation and keep you in good standing with consumers.

Interested in learning more about the Polti Cimex Eradicator?