Hotels are under attack by bed bugs with a majority of major hotel chains reporting bed bug cases in many of their properties. We deal mainly with independent hotel owners looking to treat their rooms and wanted to share how these hotels handle bed bugs and what their perspective is 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, which exponentially increases the odds of at least one room being exposed to bed bugs. There are many states across the country that we deal with, but the majority of hotels with infestations preside in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and California. These states continue to be hot spots where the probability of staying in an infested hotel would be the greatest in our opinion.
In hotels that are infested with bed bugs, it’s not uncommon for guests to complain about bed bugs 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 bitten by bed bugs while on vacation can detract from the enjoyment and cause increased stress and insomnia.
So who's to blame and how do hotels deal with complaints of bed bug bites as well as accusations that home infestations originated from their properties?
Hotels are of course for-profit private entities that rely on high occupancies to drive the bottom line. This makes dealing with bed bugs very expensive 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 offering rooms, but fall victim to guests carrying bed bugs into the property where they, in turn, infect other guests.
Lovely, I know.
If you are wondering if a hotel with bed bugs will shut down a floor or even an entire hotel that’s infested with bed bugs the answer is probably not. With issues in the current economy and with fewer people traveling for business and pleasure, hotels need revenue more than ever. I genuinely believe that hotel owners look out for their patrons and take extensive steps to prevent bed bugs infestations, but 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 will refund your money or move you to another room. With most hotel rooms booked on credit cards, you are eligible to be in a 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 as 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 bugs bites to gain free stays in hotels. It’s very difficult 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 in fact it's just an allergy to the hotel's lotions, soap, or shampoo. This too can be an issue as guests are quick to accuse the hotel of bed bug negligence.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from guests, that recently stayed in a hotel, is now they 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 infested the guests' homes and therefore they are not responsible. I’m assuming the guest could sue the hotel in small claims court for damages, but this is rare. There are of course steps to greatly reduce bringing bed bugs home from hotels including the use of 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 are quick to respond to customer complaints and do not knowingly place new guests in infested rooms that have not been treated. Normally, 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 normally takes several treatments to fully treat an infestation. The issue here is again the need for the hotel to stay in business and this means occupying the room. Waiting 6 weeks for 3 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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