If you were paying attention over the last couple of weeks, you probably noticed that bed bugs are still a hot topic for news headlines across the country. Thankfully for the hotel industry AND it’s guests, the focus has shifted from the lodging industry and headlines are now discussing the growing bed bug problem in our nation’s schools. Even in the nation’s capital, a school had to be closed for bed bug and rodent issues.
At the same time, as Spring approaches and we start to make plans for our Summer vacations, focus will undoubtedly shift back to bed bugs in hotels, motels and resorts. They may already be a factor in your travel decisions. The concerned traveler may be familiar with Orkin’s annual list of the ‘Top 50 Bed Bug Cities‘, and may try to avoid destinations on the list. The pest control company based the ranking on treatment data collected from the areas it performed the most bed bug treatments between December 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016. Before you go changing travel plans, however, remember that this list includes residential as well as commercial treatments. You might want to ask yourself this question instead: Where do the people who live in the cities on this list travel? Where do they take their vacations? Are they taking bed bugs with them?
Whether you are a concerned traveler, a hotel owner, or a property manager, certainly you are aware of the growing bed bug epidemic. In fact, 1 out of 5 Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel according to a 2011 study. More than likely, those numbers have increased in the 5 years since. Yet as our previous blog stated, this epidemic does NOT rest firmly on the shoulders of the lodging industry. Hotels did not invent bed bugs. Bed bugs are in hotels because guests bring them in, plain and simple. Responsibility lies on the guests AND the lodging industry to help halt the growth of the epidemic.
We have all heard horror stories about dirty hotels, complete with filthy sheets, broken appliances and front desk staffs that didn’t seem to care. As we mentioned in our 1st blog, bed bugs are steadily becoming a mainstay in these stories. For many guests, bed bugs are a cleanliness issue, with the perception being that a clean, upscale hotel would not have bed bugs. After all, THOSE types of problems are much more characteristic of smaller motels, and cheaper roadside inns. Although that perception IS starting to change, the process is slow. In the meantime, hotels with reported bed bug issues, such as those listed on the Bed Bug Registry, are fighting to save their reputation, and in some cases, their businesses. Even our President Trump’s OWN Doral Hotel is being sued by a guest over bed bug bites. The decision was expected by inauguration. The Miami Herald published photos of the guest’s bites:
As you well know, there has been a rise in bed bug infestations in the United States. Hotels and the lodging industry as a whole are on the front lines in the battle against this determined pest. In fact, according to the 2015 “Bugs Without Borders” survey conducted by the University of Kentucky and the National Pest Management Association, 64% of pest control professionals report that bed bug infestations continue to be on the rise, and 74% encountered infestations specifically in hotels and motels. Several sites now act as a bed bug registry, listing consumer’s reports of bed bug encounters at hotels throughout the country. Often, these sites offer little or no recourse for the hotels. The posts stay on these sites indefinitely, causing damage (sometimes irreperably) to the hotel’s reputation. Concerned consumers stear clear of hotels on a bed bug registry, even when the problem may have been remedied. Now, those same consumers will have a new site to help alleviate the growing concerns of encountering bed bugs during their travels. And finally, the hotels listed on a bed bug registry will have some recourse.