It’s one of those ‘nightmare’ scenarios that everyone in the resorts business has heard of, but hopefully few of you have been unlucky enough to experience. Such incidents do occur and no, they are not urban myths.
It can, and does, happen. Even in 2018, the days of bed bug are a problem. In fact, studies suggest that due to global warming, the problem of bed bugs and other pests may get worse. The good news is, however, that bed bug infestations are manageable and there are many actions you can take as a resort owner to protect your guests and yourself ‒ both to prevent bed bugs from showing up and from eradicating them if they do arrive.
So we return to our question: What does one do when one of your guests is bitten by bed bugs at 2am?
From the point of view of the hospitality industry, there are two problems here: the critters themselves (including how to get rid of bed bugs permanently) and the impact that this ‘news’ can have on your business. The fact is that these days many guests book their accommodation online, which makes sense, since it’s quick and easy. But those same potential guests will probably look up reviews written by other folks who have stayed at your hotel/motel/B&B/resort etc. And needless to say that even a single bed bug bite can lead to an onslaught of bad reviews.
If your resort does get a bad review ‒ and all it takes is one ‒ your business can take a real hit if there is mention of bed bugs. In fact, research1 has shown that reports of bed bugs lowered the value of a hotel room by $21 for leisure travelers and $38 for business travelers. The researchers also discovered that bed bug infestation was the number #1 concern for those selecting a hotel. Worse still, the report also revealed that were a guest to actually find a bed bug they would they would leave immediately!
Of course, there is a big difference between a stay at a hotel and a visit to a resort, which usually entails a longer stay. An overnight stay at a motel that is interrupted by bugs might mean be as easy to fix as a change in rooms for the night. However, a bed bug bite during a vacation at a resort is an entirely different matter.
How to recover your lost reputation online is a subject for another time. Your most pressing issue is how to eliminate those bed bugs.
Priority #1: Getting Rid of the Bed Bugs
Before you do anything, you want to make sure that your guest’s bed bug bite is the real thing. Unfortunately, bed bug bites bear some resemblance to scabies, although they are different. Here’s how you differentiate scabies bites from those of bed bugs:
- Bed bug bites are raised, flat red welts, usually in rows of three.
- Scabies bites have a more rash-like in appearance.
- Scabies burrows look like grayish-white, raised lines and are usually located on the wrists, joint areas, finger webs and the back, but can be found anywhere on the body.
Once you’ve established that you do, in fact, have a bed bug problem, you must treat it immediately.
- Meticulously clear the affected rooms: vacuum beds, carpets, chairs, desks, drapes and window blinds, then throw away the vacuum bag. Do not put it in a trash container or kitchen receptacle. Instead, remove the vacuum bag from the building, placing it immediately in an external trash container.
- Wash all the sheets and bedding (from the infested room or rooms) in the hottest water possible (at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and finish them in a hot dryer. If it can’t be washed, dry clean it or put it in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. Tip: commercial dryers in laundromats reach very high temperatures and are especially good for pillows, bedspreads, and bulky items.
- Keep in mind that steps #1 and #2 above are only temporary measures, especially if you haven’t treated the infected rooms and areas with an insecticide or bed bug spray. Vacuuming, cleaning, and washing will certainly reduce a bed bug infestation, but the bed bugs may not be completely gone.
Keeping the Bed Bugs Away
At this point we suggest that you deploy Sterifab as your first line of defense. You want to spray all affected (and potentially affected) areas. The benefit of Sterifab is that it is both a disinfectant and insecticide, which kills bed bugs, as well as ticks, fleas, mites, roaches and other pests. It is easy to use, won’t stain, and has no added perfume or unpleasant odor. Plus, it’s fast drying, completely clear and does not harm fabrics or carpets. And, Sterifab is one of the only non-residual products labeled for use on mattresses and upholstered furniture.
Finally, if you find that you do have bed bugs, don’t immediately reach for whatever insecticides and/or disinfectants you have at hand. Neither should you visit your local Home Depot (or local hardware store) and buy bug bombs and foggers.
The fact is that these over-the-counter products have been shown to have little, or no, effect on bed bugs. They are very sneaky and will almost always find places to hide ̶ protected places where the fogging mists can’t penetrate
Better to rely on a proven, reliable bed bug spray like Sterifab.
- Carl Nathe, UK Research: Bed Bugs ‘Bite’ the Wallet of Hotel Owners, Campus News/UKNow, University of Kentucky, 2015. http://uknow.uky.edu/campus-news/uk-research-bed-bugs-bite-wallet-hotel-owners