Bed bugs are an obvious concern for any hotelier, as they are difficult and time-consuming to deal with and any infestation will diminish the operational efficiency of your establishment, especially if you’re preparing for the UK Staycation and Summercation surge.
Recent research by Travelodge, shows this summer, 69% of Britons are taking their summer holiday in the UK (an increase of 12% on 2018). The research also indicates we are ditching the traditional two week holiday, as 85% of us are splitting holiday into a seven day break, with three short breaks throughout the year. There is also a growing trend for taking three locations Summercation that includes a beach, rural and city stopover (a cost effective way of creating three holidays for the price of one). This also provides great content for social media news feeds.
What you don’t want is those social media posts to be full of complaints about bed bug bites obtained in your premises. Social media has transformed the relationship of customers and hospitality brands. For example every month, 456 million people visit TripAdvisor.com to leave a review, plan or assess a trip. Bad word of mouth can, and does, spread faster and further than ever before
How bed bugs spread into hotels
It is very difficult to prevent bed bugs being transferred into your premises. They are expert hitchhikers, entering via guests’ clothing and luggage, external contractors, laundry services or potentially from neighbouring properties. No city, town or hotel is safe, particularly during warmer summer weather, when they are more active.
An initial infestation might only consist of a few bed bugs however; with an adequate food supply a female bed bug can lay 200-500 eggs every month. These hatch and the young mature into adults over about five weeks, which can lead to a rapid increase in population if not treated quickly. Early detection and prompt action is needed to contain and eliminate a bed bug infestation before it spreads.
The impact of bed bugs
Due to the very nature of hospitality, when there is frequent, high guest turnover, the risk of bed bugs increases. The more visitors there are to a hotel, the greater the risk. Our research* has found that 35% of businesses in the hospitality sector have experienced at least one instance of bed bugs in the past two years. Rentokil research also suggests that most businesses (whether large hotels or family run businesses) would likely suffer both reputational and business impact from a bed bug infestation. Most respondents agreed that the occupancy rate of their establishment could decrease up to 20% within four weeks of a bed bug outbreak if it were made public.
Take a proactive approach to bed bugs
While there are no fail safe methods to avoid a bed bug infestation hitchhiking its way into your premises, there are proactive measures that hoteliers can take and some that are not as effective as they may seem. It can be tempting to try and quickly deal with a bed bug issue by a bit of vigorous vacuuming, an emergency wash of the sheets and a quick steam clean. However, these short term panic measures could prove to be ineffective, allowing the bed bug colony to become established.
Introducing a responsible, integrated pest management programme (IPM) will help to ensure any infestation is detected early, contained and treated effectively. There are three key steps to improving awareness of potential issues: know the signs of bed bugs, train your staff and understand how best to deal with an infestation.
Your employees need to be the first line of defense, encourage a proactive approach to spotting bed bugs so any outbreak can be dealt with before it has a chance to spread. Rentokil’s online Pest Awareness training, gives easy access to relevant information to help minimise the risks of a pest infestation. Training your team to recognise the warning signs and know what to do as soon as they find evidence of a problem.
We understand any infestation will diminish the operational efficiency of your hotel, reducing room availability (whilst the bed bug issue is treated) and your need to be back to full capacity as soon as possible. Our innovative Entotherm heat treatments are completely chemical free and eliminate all bed bug life stages – from eggs, larvae and nymphs to adult insects. The added benefit of this solution to treating bed bugs is that disruption is minimal and guest areas can be reused quickly after treatment with no residual side effects.
*2018 Rentokil Initial pest control services in hotels research survey