Bed bugs are back
In the 1940’s bed bugs (or bedbugs) were thought to have been all but eradicated from the western world. In the past 20 years they have made a startling resurgence which shows no signs of slowing down. Importantly, the rise in both infestations and guest complaints is spread throughout the UK, US and Europe. While New York’s problems might have attracted the most media attention, hotels all over the world are suffering significant financial and reputation damage.
The damage you see and the damage you don’t
Bed bugs cost hotels money in several ways. There are the direct costs of pest control, moving rooms, compensation and lost revenue from having rooms out of service. For many hotels these run to several thousand dollars per year. These costs scale with the severity of the infestation and large outbreaks that have spread throughout the room can be extremely difficult to deal with. Many such infestations keep coming back, despite repeated treatments. If the initial infestation had been detected earlier, before it took hold, then the problem could have been dealt with at the first attempt.
Less immediately obvious is the time burden these problems place on the staff, particularly the on-site management, who need to drop everything to deal with extremely unhappy guests and do so discreetly and promptly.
However, by far the most damaging aspect of having a bed bug infestation is the reputation damage. Although industry insiders know that bed bugs are a problem for all hotels from luxury to budget, guests are usually not so understanding! An infested room is often reported on one or more travel review sites, usually accompanied with gruesome pictures of bites. Research has shown that negative reviews as a result of bed bugs directly impacts the sale price of rooms for the entire hotel, usually by tens of dollars per room, for several days. An increasing number of hotel owners, operators and managers are recognising this issue and are taking steps to protect their revenue.
What you can do about it
There’s not much you can do to stop bed bugs arriving in your hotel, but what you can do is monitor for infestations so that you can treat the infestation early and, most importantly, intervene before guests get bitten. The options until recently were to either have housekeeping staff inspect common areas in the room as part of their cleaning routine, or to have trained bed bug sniffer dogs come around every few months. Neither method has a high level of success and both add to operating costs.
Bed bugs hide during the day, when housekeeping staff are in the room and come out at night when the guests are asleep in the room. This makes inspecting for bed bugs difficult, in addition to being time-consuming and error prone, making an issue more likely to be picked up by a guest than by housekeeping staff.
Bed bug sniffer dogs are too invasive and expensive to have more often than every few months. Whilst they are quite effective, they cannot come often enough to catch an infestation in the early stages. One bed bug can become 500 in a period of three months and 31,700 in six months!
Fortunately, technology is set to change all this. Smart pest monitors are active 24/7 and can alert you within hours of a bed bug entering the room. They use bed bug pheromones to attract bed bugs to the monitor.
Things to look out for when choosing a smart pest monitor are:
● Does it require a power outlet nearby?
○ These devices are best positioned under the bed and guests may be suspicious of wires leading under the bed
● How does it connect to the internet?
○ If it requires wi-fi then you may need to get in touch with your wi-fi provider to get all the new devices approved on the network. This can be quite troublesome.
● Does it determine what the object is and if it is a target pest?
○ If your “smart” bed bug monitor reports spiders, dust and loose change you’ll quickly be inundated with useless notifications.
● How often does it need servicing and how much work is involved?
○ The point of automatic monitors is to be just that: automatic. They should be fit-and-forget. If a product requires regular intervention, clearing of false detections, has an involved setup or service procedure then you should take this into account when assessing the value of the system to your property.
Here at omma.tech, we are leading the way in smart monitors for bed bugs. We offer a battery-powered smart monitor which connects to our own long-range, wireless network. We use sophisticated algorithms to identify whether the object in the monitor is a bed bug or not and the setup process is as simple as taking placing a monitoring device under each bed. Thanks to our patented technology, our devices last for a year between servicing and are swapped for replacements at the end of their life.
If you want to find out more about the highest standards of bed bug monitoring and protect your guests, your revenue, and your reputation from the rising tide of bed bugs, get in touch with us using the links below.