It’s one of every traveler’s nightmares—happening upon bed bugs while on the road. In fact, according to a survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), nearly 80 percent of people surveyed are most concerned about encountering bed bugs at hotels. The risk of a bed bug infestation is increased in commercial lodging facilities, due to the constant flow of people and frequent turnover of rooms. Diligent attention to preventative measures and quick reaction to signs of an infestation can make all the difference in preventing a storm of bad publicity.
Having a written action plan in place, with clearly designated roles and responsibilities for staff members, will make coping with bed bugs a much smoother process than dealing with it on the fly. This should include policies, directions, and responsibilities for detection of bed bug evidence, responding to bed bug complaints, responding to guests interested in the hotel’s bed bug practices, eliminating bed bugs, returning a room to service after treatment for bed bugs, and managing public relations around a bed bug infestation, in both traditional and social media.
All relevant members of the staff, including front desk, maintenance, and housekeeping, should be trained in various bed bug topics. These topics would include how bed bugs can be introduced and spread, how to inspect for and identify bed bugs, their habits, what to do if the bugs are found, how to prevent spreading bed bugs to other rooms, how to respond to guest complaints, and how to satisfy a guest with complaints.
To prevent widespread infestations and catch them early on, consider regularly scheduled inspections of all guestrooms and public areas by a pest management professional. Housekeeping should also check rooms during every service, including furniture, curtains, and behind picture frames. Maintenance staff should also periodically check behind headboards and under box springs.
Other preventative measures to consider are enclosing mattresses and box springs with bed bug-proof encasements and eliminating hiding places such as peeling wallpaper and paint, cracks, or holes in walls and floors; crevices around headboards and along baseboards; and the molding around heating and A/C units. Take bed bugs into account when furnishing rooms as well. Avoid using reconditioned furniture or furnishings—or at least have them inspected and cleared before bringing them into a room. There are also decorative elements to consider; fewer fabrics, less clutter, and white bedding will all contribute to easier detection.