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Bed Bugs out of Control!!

The scourge has not ended, just the major media talking about this problem stopped. Here is what’s really going on.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Christian Buckhout
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Bed Bug infestation is a common dilemma that is dealt with discreetly; however, it is a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored. These little black, very resistant, parasitic insects can affect the bottom line of every hotelier from the owner of a Ma and Pa motel to a Five Star luxury property. Since 2000, the incidence of bed bug complaints has increased by 95%. Due to increased travel, the little insects, also called “hitchhiking pests,” have made it around the world. Heavily populated areas such as New York City, Denver, Cincinnati and Chicago are key areas of exposure. During the past eight years, complaints within New York City have grown significantly. The hospitality industry is engaged in an all out war. Due to the steady stream of guests checking in and out of a hotel each day, it has become a monumental challenge to control these parasites. The havoc it can wreak on a hotel is devastating.

Financial impact on a hotel

The magnitude of the damage to the hotel industry is hard to determine. New York City alone spends between $10 million to $40 million per year on bed bug control, but it is a crucial investment necessary to prevent greater financial repercussion.

The range in cost to exterminate bed bugs can vary between $400 up to several thousand dollars a room, depending on the severity of the invasion. Ironically, there is no guarantee that these little insects are gone – through inbreeding, one pregnant female bed bug can create a whole new plague. In addition, the infested furniture, carpets and beds must be replaced in order to control the influx. Bed bugs can live up to a year without feeding on blood, which makes it extremely complicated to terminate them. Aside from the cleaning costs, the hotel will face loss in revenue, as well as room refunds to affected guests.

Moreover, social media channels share these outbreaks with hundreds of thousands of people within seconds of discovery. Websites such as Trip Advisor, Bed Bug Registry and Bed Bug Database provide guests with an opportunity to share their experiences. The lost revenue suffered due to the damaged reputation is hard to determine, but the success of any business is based on client satisfaction in today’s society. It is a grueling and expensive process to rebuild confidence and good standing for any hotel. 83% of holiday travelers are influenced by customer reviews and 55% of US customers trust a local business more if they read a positive review online, which demonstrates the importance of a positive reputation.
In addition to all the expenditures, the emergence of bed bugs can lead to lawsuits. These costs can escalate to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on each case. As you can see, though these diminutive bugs can have a tremendous financial impact on a hotel.

How to prevent greater risks

What can you do to prevent greater risk and expense? Firstly, you must realize that ignoring bed bug infestation is not a solution. Early detection is key for exterminating hotel bed bug infestations. If the issue is not addressed immediately the invasion can spread through the entire hotel. Bed Bugs can deposit between one to three eggs daily, which makes it crucial to eliminate them as soon as possible.

In order to keep the risks under control, it is important that the property comes up with a bed bug action plan. Work together with Pest Management Professionals (PMP) that will be able to install monitoring devices such as “climb ups” and “mattress monitors”. These traps will not eliminate the problem but they will assist with early detection. The PMP can also help you to educate your staff about these little pests. Many hotels in the New York and New Jersey are making use of K9-Bedbug detection services, which incorporate trained beagles that sniff out bedbugs. The cost per inspection varies between $900 and $1500. From viewing the picture, one can see that the bedbug infestation has spread throughout the United States. Therefore, it is vital to take precautions in order to minimize the risks.

Observing the current rate of bed bugs expansion, we can assume that in time many hotels will face this horrific challenge. Therefore, it is essential to come up with a bed bug action plan to deal with the hitchhiker. Collaborate with your employees, guests, and professionals in order to overcome these pesky tribulations. If you are not proactive, bed bugs will not just be a nightmare for your guests, but a reality.

Christian Buckhout
Analyst, HVS New York
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Christian Buckhout is an analyst at the HVS New York office. Christian earned his bachelor's degree from the Hotel Management School Maastricht, Netherlands and gained work experience in hospitality and financial services. Contact Christian at +1 (516) 248-8828 or cbuckhout@hvs.com
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