We know all too well there is always a risk that hitchhiking bed bugs will be introduced into one of your hotel guestrooms. Catching bed bugs ahead of a guest sighting/attack is clearly the best possible outcome.
Unfortunately, there will still be the occasion where a guest comes forward with a bed bug report. With endless media reports of bed bugs, there is little doubt that travelers are on heightened alert. Add to this that guests will often confuse other insect activity with that of bed bugs.
Basically, there are two possibilities for bed bug reports: a guest reports having seen what they believe to be bed bugs (but is not complaining of bites), or a guest is complaining they have received bed bug bites at your hotel.
Under either scenario, there are common “response” and “action” steps to take.
Whenever a guest complains of sighting a live bed bug (and/or bed bug indicators) or comes forward with a complaint of bites, it is important for the staff to take quick and decisive actions. As part of my efforts with B3G (a company whose mission is to eradicate bed bug infestations at hotels), I have developed an easy-to-remember response protocol. This approach starts with using the response acronym “LOCATE.” Think of the bed bug epidemic as a battle against tiny terrorists. Before you can take proper actions, you need to locate the enemy’s base of operations. “Locate” as our acronym helps you remember the six elements of the proper response.
Step 1: Listen. Listen completely to the guest's bed bug report without interruption.
Step 2: Offer a different room. As soon as you have completed listening to the guest’s bed bug account, let the guest know that you are prepared to offer them an alternative room.
Step 3: Comfort. Comfort the guest and provide reassurance that bed bug prevention is taken very seriously at your hotel.
Step 4: Ask. Ask for the details that led to the guest reporting bed bug activity within their room. Fact gathering basics include: what did they see; where did they see it; how much did they see?
Step 5: Tend to needs. Typically, the guest will request an alternative room. Relocating the guest should be seamless via the help of hotel staff.
Step 6: Explain. Explain the steps that the hotel will take as a result of a guest report. Continue to keep the guest informed throughout the process.
Responding to the guest is important but without taking quick and appropriate physical action, the hotel will lose credibility.
Just as there is an acronym for the appropriate response, B3G has developed an easy to remember list of actions to be taken by the staff following a report of bed bug activity in a guest room. The easy to remember acronym is “ACTION,” which was selected in order to help your staff remember the six steps that need to be completed.
Step 1: Attend to guest. Attending to the guest is synonymous with the response protocol, LOCATE (Listen, Offer, Ask, Comfort, Tend, and Explain).
Step 2: Contain. Avoid cross-contamination. Do not relocate a guest reporting activity without completing an inspection. If the inspection results are positive for BB activity, take appropriate steps regarding the guest’s belongings.
Step 3: Treat. Any report of bed bug activity will result in treatment and taking extra preventative maintenance measures.
Step 4: Impart seamless service. Imparting seamless service means that the staff is aligned to tend to the guest's needs and provides timely and appropriate assistance.
Step 5: Offers. Follow your hotel’s protocol for problem resolution. Then, follow-up with the guest to ensure that they are satisfied with the hotel’s response to their bed bug report/complaint.
Step 6: Notes. After taking care of the guest and all steps to inspect and treat a guestroom, properly reporting the situation is the final action.
THE FOUR “DON’Ts”
1. Don’t delay in responding to the guest (best practice is to extend an immediate response by GM or MOD).
2. Don’t be defensive about the possibility that the guestroom has bed bug activity.
3. Don’t disregard the inconvenience the guest will experience as a result of making report.
4. Don’t drop the ball—complete all the following steps:
a. Do your fact gathering
b. Tend to the guest's needs at all points of the process
c. Keep the guest informed along the way
d. Complete an incident report and make entries into your hotel’s bed bug log.
Greg Miller is president and CEO of PM Hospitality Strategies, Inc. For more details on B3G & the B3G Method, visit www.b-3g.com.