Hotels are under attack by bed bugs, with most major hotel chains reporting bed bug cases in many of their properties. We deal mainly with independent hotel owners looking to treat their rooms. We wanted to share how these hotels handle bed bugs and their perspective on this epidemic.
It’s an unfortunate reality that many of the hotels we stay in have been or are, in fact, partially infested with bed bugs. Hotels are prime victims and carriers of bed bugs because of the constant turnover of guests, exponentially increasing the odds of at least one room being exposed to bed bugs. There are many states across the country that we deal with. Still, most hotels with infestations reside in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Georgia, and California. In our opinion, these states continue to be hot spots where the probability of staying in an infested hotel would be the greatest.
In hotels infested with bed bugs, it’s not uncommon for guests to complain about bed bug bites to the front desk or even to not have any bed bug bites and inadvertently bring bed bugs back to their home on their suitcases or clothing. Being attacked by bed bugs while on vacation can detract from enjoyment and cause increased stress and insomnia.
So who's to blame, and how do hotels deal with complaints of bed bug bites and accusations that home infestations originated from their properties?
Hotels are for-profit private entities that rely on high occupancies to drive the bottom line. This makes dealing with bed bugs costly not only for the treatments of the rooms but also for the lost revenue they lose when infested rooms cannot be used. Hotels offer a valuable service in providing spaces but fall victim to guests carrying bed bugs into the property, where they, in turn, infect other guests. Lovely, I know.
Will a hotel with bed bugs shut down a floor or even an entire hotel infested with bed bugs? The answer is probably not. With issues in the current economy and fewer people traveling for business and pleasure, hotels need more revenue than ever. Hotel owners look out for their patrons and take extensive steps to prevent bed bug infestations. Still, it's a losing battle in many cases.
So, if you're in a hotel and you're bitten, what can you expect from the hotel? In most scenarios, hotels refund your money or move you to another room. With most hotel rooms booked on credit cards, you are eligible to be in dispute, especially for bed bug reasons. You can be sure that they will attempt to satisfy you. Based on the property owners and managers we've spoken to, they do not place people in rooms they know are infested. This, too, is bad for business and not ethically correct.
One issue that is becoming a growing issue within hotels is guests falsely reporting bed bug bites to gain free stays in hotels. It's challenging for hotels to fight false claims of bed bug bites, especially with the widespread coverage in the news about hotel infestations. Some people even think they are being bitten by bed bugs when it's just an allergy to the hotel's lotions, soap, or shampoo. This can be a problem as guests quickly accuse the hotel of bed bug negligence.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from guests who recently stayed in a hotel is that they now have bed bugs. I can tell you from experience that hotels will state that it's impossible to prove that bed bugs from their property infest the guests' homes, so they are not responsible. The guest could sue the hotel in small claims court for damages, but this is rare. There are steps to reduce bringing bed bugs home from hotels. Such as using the Packtite heat treatment device, drying clothing on high heat, and using bed bug luggage sprays before and after the hotel stay.
What are the hotels doing to control bed bug infestations?
Most hotels regularly treat their rooms through the use of a pest control operator or by treating the rooms themselves using residual chemicals known to treat bed bugs for 4-6 weeks. Regular applications can treat bed bugs in infested rooms and help prevent bed bugs from infesting rooms that have none. Treating bed bugs in hot spots across the country is good for business and can reduce customer complaints and refunds.
From our experience, hotels quickly respond to customer complaints and refrain from knowingly placing new guests in infested rooms that have not been treated. Typically, hotels will keep a room out of commission for at least a day while the room is treated. The issue with this practice is that it usually takes several treatments to treat an outbreak fully. The dilemma is the need for the hotel to stay in business, which means occupying the room. Waiting six weeks for three treatments to be conducted and monitored is often not an option.
As long as people continue to bring bed bugs into hotels, it will continue to be a losing battle for hotels, which is why it’s unfortunately up to the guests to protect themselves from bed bugs and to reduce the chances of bringing bed bugs back home.
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