Bed bugs are nocturnal, small, pest insects that feed on exposed skin during the night. Although they do not carry any infectious diseases, they can fast become a nuisance both in homes, as well as businesses in the hotel and hospitality sector. Bed bugs can infest any room and spread to others quickly due to multiple factors, including how many eggs female bed bugs can lay in their lifetime.
Finding a bed bug infestation can be difficult to begin with. - If people get bitten, their first thought is often mosquitos or fleas, if they have pets in the home. Once you know what you’re looking for - the signs of bed bugs become clear. Without this knowledge, the signs are easy to miss. Start in the most common place: the bed. Are there spots of dried blood? Dark spots on sheets or mattresses? By using these identifiers, you can start to fix the issue.
There are also lots of questions as to how bed bugs can spread room to room so easily: can they fly? Or: do bed bugs jump? The short answer is no, they don’t jump and no they can’t fly.
How Do They Spread?
While they can’t jump or fly, they do spread fast, they are experts at silently seeking out food (your guests) in the dead of night. They home in on the heat and exhaled breath and can use this to move from one room to the next. At less than 1mm thick they are extremely good at crawling through tiny cracks and finding routes between rooms. Conduits, electrical sockets, and even cracks in a wall are all favorite ways for them to access an adjacent room. They are also very good at hitchhiking and spread between rooms can be on guest’s bags, cleaner’s trolleys or anything else that’s moved up and down the corridors. This is how they get into hotels to begin with: by coming in on travelers’ personal belongings or clothing, before ‘disembarking’ in the hotel room.
The fact that bed bugs can come into hotels on travellers’ luggage means that it is a massive challenge to keep them from coming into the hotel in the first place.
Even with an extensive cleaning routine - they can come into close proximity with any furniture item, and then latch onto cleaning supplies (such as bed linen or vacuum cleaners) to then move into another space undetected.
Left untreated, the infestation can keep spreading and cause detrimental effects to your business, losing your custom and therefore revenue.
What Problems Bed Bugs Cause
Despite common stories about hotels with bed bugs being deemed “unclean”, having a bed bug problem is not indicative of the cleanliness of a hotel room, as bed bugs are human blood-feeding insects, rather than feeding off of dust or dirt. Most hotels have an extremely rigorous cleaning routine, but if you’re not cleaning specifically for bed bugs, they are easy to miss during a standard cleaning.
Once a bed bug infestation is discovered, revenue loss is inevitable due to having to close the infested area for extermination and cleaning - to ensure all of the bed bugs are gone before another guest stays. There is a chance that staff will be the first to pick up on it - which would limit the fallout and therefore the financial repercussions.
The main issues arise when guests complain about bed bugs - due to the reputation of being ‘unclean’. Since the hotel industry has re-opened fully to both internal and external travelers after the COVID-19 pandemic, guests hold high expectations for cleanliness in where they stay. Guests would rather berate brands and call out brands on social media first, than look for a solution.
Lawsuits due to bed bug injuries can be relatively common - and can come with large payouts from hotels. This financial damage, mixed with the backlash that can happen from the media - can break your business.
Treatment and Prevention
Bed bugs don’t just go away of their own accord. The best course of action is early detection and swift treatment. Depending on the size of the infestation, extermination can be costly and time-consuming but is the most necessary step to getting the room reopened. There is a possibility that the extermination process wouldn’t be 100% effective, and therefore you must be vigilant for re-infestation and may also have to replace the furniture, linen, or even the flooring (if carpets), which adds to the cost further.
Once the treatment for the bugs has finished, how cleaning is done will have to be updated and become more rigorous - initially to ensure that any remaining bed bugs are removed from the room/linen, and then to protect the rooms as much as possible going forward.
Detection with Smart Monitoring
The best time to prevent bed bugs is before a problem starts. Spotta is an easy-to-use smart system that helps you detect bed bugs as soon as they arrive in your hotel. That means you can react before your guests ever see a bug, arrange treatment and stop the outbreak before it grows. Spotta’s service uses Pods -smart devices that contain pheromones that only bed bugs can smell which lure them inside.
Once a bed bug is detected - the device takes a photo, which gets analyzed to determine if it is a bed bug or not. If it is, the system sends you an email, with the image and the necessary information for you to take action. By getting in and solving the problem before your guests are even aware of it you can avoid all the negative impacts of bed bugs.
Spottaworks continuously, so both you and guests can sleep well at night knowing that Spotta will let you know of a bed bug sighting before it turns into an infestation.