Educating Your Hotel Staff on Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

NATIONAL REPORT—Bed bugs have been a pest of significance for literally thousands of years. Within the last 10 years, however, they have become a major challenge for hoteliers across the country. This nocturnal parasite feeds on the blood of humans, causing itchy bites and irritation to victims. Further, this insidious pest can damage a hotel’s reputation and negatively impact bottom line revenue when reports of an infestation are posted online, particularly social media.

It’s important hoteliers empower themselves and staff with education on this blood-sucking pest. Ensuring that your housekeeping staff can quickly identify the signs of a bed bug—including an infestation—is a great defense against the pest. Staff should regularly inspect guest beds, as well as the surrounding sleeping areas for signs of bed bug activity. Don’t forget rollaway and pulldown beds as they are often overlooked during inspections.

Prevention and early detection of bed bugs are keys to faster control, less expensive treatment, and ‘peace of mind.’ Ensure that your staff is well-versed on the following signs to uncover a bed bug infestation:

  1. Dark spots 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in diameter or red spots from a fresh feeding or crushed bed bug. These can be either small spots of dried blood remaining from a feeding or even fecal spots from the bugs. Some spots appear dark and others look faded as though a magic marker had made the spot and the ink bled somewhat.
  2. Bed bug eggs which are tiny, 1 mm long white and elongated or eggshells, that may appear glued to a surface.
  3. Cast skins that nymphs (young bed bugs) shed as they grow through their five stages of development.
  4. Live bed bugs themselves that can be seen by the naked eye, although they are small (adults approximate the size of an apple seed). Bed bugs are flat and often hide in tight areas near the bed and their human host. When bedding is being changed, staff should slide a credit card through any thin gaps near the bed that may disturb the bugs and increase their chances of seeing them, if present.
  5. Another sign of a bed bug infestation may be the report of unexplained bites by guests or even staff. Note that although two or more guests may sleep in the same bed it is possible for only one to react to bed bug bites.
  6. If the infestation is large, signs of bed bugs may be found beyond the bed and bedding and a sickly-sweet odor may be detected.

While quickly identifying signs of an infestation is critical, having a solid, field-proven bed bug prevention program in place can stop infestations from happening in the first place. And it will certainly stop a bed bug incident from turning into an expensive and embarrassing situation.

Proactive bed bug prevention saves hoteliers a great deal of money, preserves brand reputation and reduces legal exposure. A 2017 research report entitled “Behind the Cost of Bed Bugs: Hospitality Industry Report” indicated that hotels spend on average $6,383 per bed bug incident. This cost includes the expense for pest control remediation, the loss of room revenue during the inspection and treatment process, guest compensation and discarding of soft goods. The report continues that over a five-year period, bed bug-related costs to hoteliers could catapult to more than $160,000.

Up until recently, the additional financial impact of bed bugs on hotel brand reputation was considered an unmeasurable metric. However, a University of Kentucky study found that just one negative report of bed bugs on an online review site can cost a 300-room hotel catering to business travelers $274,000 per month in revenue. When looking at a similarly sized hotel catering to vacation travelers, the costs approached $166,000 per month.

Prevention equals savings.  You save on direct and indirect expenses connected to an incident; you save potential legal and insurance costs; and you “save face,” protecting your brand and reputation in the market. 

About Allergy Technologies
ActiveGuard Mattress Liners kill bed bugs. Easily installed on mattresses or box springs, these liners offer two-year continual prevention and control against any adult bed bugs, nymphs or eggs. ActiveGuard has no cautionary signal words or use restrictions on its label. Only four sizes—single/twin, double/full, queen and king—fit almost every available mattress or box spring and accommodate up to extra-large in length and 17-in. in depth. Underlying is ActiveGuard’s formulation; a unique and proprietary delivery system that offers sustained bioavailability of permethrin for two years. Newest research supports that after a short exposure to ActiveGuard of only 10 minutes, bed bugs regardless of their level of resistance, begin to show significant reductions in feeding (biting) and a dramatic inability to lay eggs. This results in discontinuation of population growth thereby halting progression of an incident to an infestation. If you are seeking a pro-active preventative approach, ActiveGuard should be considered as the centerpiece of your long-term solution to keep bedding from being infested. ActiveGuard Mattress Liners are covered under U.S. Patents 5,916,580, 6,214,365, 6,440,438 and pending patents.

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