In order to mimic the way bedbug information would be discovered in real life as travelers booked hotels online, Penn explained, the information about bedbugs required a couple extra clicks from the participant. They found that bedbugs were at the top of people’s lists of concerns when picking a hotel. Further, if an actual bedbug was found—participants reported it as the number one reason they’d leave the hotel immediately.
In 2010, it seemed all but impossible to escape bedbug infestation and paranoia in New York City. Almost everyone knew someone that had to deal with them; I remember guilt-ridden conversations of how to politely escape social gatherings at the homes of friends who had had them.
That year was the peak of bedbugs in New York. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development reports that infestation cases have been falling since then; last year’s case number—2,268 —is less than half of what it once was.
Nevertheless, bedbugs are still a huge concern for the hospitality industry. The reason isn’t merely the bugs themselves, but how travelers choose their accommodations these days: online, guided by the reviews of their fellow travelers. And those online reviews can do real damage to a hotel if there is just the slightest hint of a bedbug infestation.
That’s the finding of three researchers—Michael Potter, veteran entomologist, and agricultural economists Jerrod Penn and Wuyang Hu at the University of Kentucky—who teamed up to look at the economic impact of bedbugs for the hotel industry. Their forthcoming report was funded by Protect-A-Bed (a company that makes mattress protectors), and it shows that bedbug reports lowered the value of a hotel room by $21 for leisure travelers and $38 for business travelers.
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Bed Beg infestations at hotels can result in guilty verdicts against hotel owners if conscious and deliberate behavior led to infestations going untreated.
Bed bugs are very sensitive to heat in all stages of their development. The thermal death point for the common bedbug is 115°F. There are two common types of heat treatment for bed bug eradication, steam and thermal remediation.
Steam – Steam is very effective at killing bugs on contact and requires no harmful chemicals. A trained hotel staff member, a commercial steam cleaner, or pest management professional can perform the task however, all areas of the infested room need to be cleaned. If hard to reach areas are missed, an infestation can reoccur. The cost per room for steam cleaning can be inexpensive.
The drawbacks: no residual effect, high pressure steam can blow adults and eggs from their hiding places before the heat has had a chance to kill, and steam is not 100% effective if areas are missed.
Thermal Remediation – Propane generated heat or electric heaters are used to raise the temperature inside the room to approximately 140°F. The heat is monitored by sensors and circulated within affected guest rooms for several hours. Controlled application of heat ensures there are no cold spots. Higher temperatures do not mean a more effective treatment, but can actually cause damage to the guest room and its contents. If employed correctly, thermal remediation is the only 100% effective solution at eliminating all bed bugs and their eggs
The drawback: A typical treatment for multiple rooms can be expensive and time consuming (6-8 hours).
The following are good first steps:
VACUUMING – If an infestation is discovered in a guestroom, vacuuming the preferred hiding spaces, such as box springs and mattress seams can eliminate the immediate threat by removing the adult bed bugs. This is one of least expensive green options and can be performed by in-house housekeeping staff. However, it is not 100% effective. Bed bug eggs are coated with a sticky surface to keep them where they are laid. It is very difficult to remove them from their hiding places. Vacuuming is a good first step, but it only postpones inevitable reemergence if it is the only option employed.
ALL NATURAL & ESSENTIAL OIL INSECTICIDES – In many instances commercial exterminating agents may contain neurotoxins and other dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to sensitive populations. As an alternative, ask your Pest Management Professional (PMP) about non-toxic exterminating agents. Most botanical insecticides made with essential oils can be just as effective as conventional insecticides. Examples of essential oils are peppermint oil, clove oil, citrus oils, lavender oil, thyme oil, and rosemary oil.
All-natural insecticides are employed as knock down and residual sprays. The knock down sprays kill on contact. The residual sprays are designed to interfere with the lifecycle to kill over a number of days. The costs of all-natural alternatives are in-line with traditional chemicals in most cases. Both applications have minor drawbacks. Knock down sprays are not effective against bugs that are not sprayed directly. Hidden bugs can re-colonize a guest room quick. Due to their natural composition residual sprays evaporate faster than traditional commercially applied chemicals, thus losing killing power. All-natural residuals need more frequent applications by a PMP to maintain effectiveness.
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