National Bed Bug Resurgence
Currently, bedbugs (Cimicidae as they are referred to in medical and veterinary entomology), rank the Number 1 pest in America. According to data provided by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) the prevalence of bedbugs confirms a national epidemic; with Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Chicago being the most bedbug-infested metropolitans in the United States.
The1940s were the apotheosis in bedbugs’ eradication for the first time throughout human history, lasting until the1990s; when suddenly the blood-sucking parasite came back and with a vengeance. Currently, one in every five Americans either encountered bedbugs or knows someone who has.
Equal Opportunity Pest
In a survey conducted in 2015 by the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, from a group of 2100 individuals who regularly travel for business or leisure, more than 50% didn’t factor Cimicidae into their lodging reservations. In fact, Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA, suggests that the public “awareness and knowledge about these pests is alarmingly low.”
The general assumption is that bedbugs infest only cluttered and unsanitary spaces. But this isn’t the case. The pest is an expert hitch-hiker, adept in relocation and excels in reproduction. For example — it’s enough to simply place a piece of luggage on a contaminated floor, then take it with on an Uber ride, maybe onboard of an airplane, and finally into a hotel room where you plan on lodging to cause bedbugs populating all these locations.
These bloodsucking mites follow the trail of carbon dioxide we exhale to find their victims. So as long as we’re breathing, bedbugs do not discriminate. In fact, in 2018 Victoria’s Secret model, Sabrine Jales St. Pierre, brought attention to a major hotel chain for allegedly being “massacred” by bedbugs during her stay there. She turned to Brian Virag, of My Bed Bug Lawyer Inc. firm, to represent her in a lawsuit filed in California’s Riverside County Superior court.
The Cost of Renting Bugs with Your Beds
Virag prides himself for bringing “apartment owners, hotel operators, and furniture retailers to justice for exposing our people to bedbugs.” According to the firm’s site, My Bed Bug Lawyer Inc. won the largest Bug Verdicts in US History against an apartment complex, totaling in $3.4 M, and against a hotel with $546.5 K settlement.
Although Virag is one of the famous in the field, bedbug defense attorneys occupy a prominent niche within the national legal system and are on the lookout for properties’ liability due to inadequate inspection and treatment. According to Hotel Business magazine, “a confirmed ‘one-night bite’ case may well involve a substantially higher cost for legal fees, expert witnesses, and court costs than the actual value of the case.” Nonetheless, $8K – $15K is the national average for a bedbug settlement.
Yet a case doesn’t need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law to detrimentally damage a hospitality provider’s reputation and future profitability. A single post about a bad, bedbug encounter on an online board like the Bedbug Registry, or a negative review on a domain like Google Reviews or TripAdvisor, will significantly impact travelers’ consideration to stay on the property, as Michael Potter, a UK entomologist, and Agricultural Economics Professor, Wuyang Hu, suggest. Furthermore, in their research on the influence of bedbugs on consumer preferences, when choosing to lodge for business or leisure, they’ve discovered that a value of a hotel room will further decrease with a second mention of bedbugs in recent reviews by travelers.
The Economics of Prevention & Treatment
The first means of prevention is education. Bedbugs shed their skin often, leaving pepper-like spots along the edges of mattresses and furniture, and may seem like debris between fixtures and on the floor. People may react differently to bedbugs bites, but generally, they appear as multiple itchy red welts on the skin.
To avoid legal action and unflattering public opinion, Hotel Business recommends getting your staff trained by a pest management professional (PMP), as well as scheduling routine PMP inspections, while documenting all implemented treatment protocols and property evaluation.
Post-infestation treatment costs may range from $200 – $800 per room, depending on the square footage and the extent of the infestation. However, the authorities often demand treatment of rooms above, below and to the side of the infested area as well. Some hotels paid up to $60K for the treatment of a single bedbug incident.
Solutions for the Independent Hospitality Provider
Needless to say, prevention strategy is a crucial save your hospitality business’s wallet and its face. If you are an independent owner of a smaller property and are concerned about preventing bedbug infestation we got great news for you! We recently added a new exterminator and repellant bed bug spray, by Freedom Organicides that is 100% natural. It is DEET free and is designed for on-a-budget commercial, indoor, and outdoor treatment that is fully safe around children, pets, and plants. In addition to exterminating and keeping bedbugs gone, it is effective in repelling mosquitos, spider mites, whiteflies, and fleas. Data provided by the manufacturer proves this product to be highly effective, with a 100% average mortality rate of bedbugs within 15 minutes of application.
This oil-based spray remains on the treated surface for up to 9 weeks, increasing the residual value so that the routine prevention treatment is generally required only once per quarter and is administered during standard room inspections. Freedom Organicides also offer an easy to follow video tutorial to effectively apply the product indoors and on furniture that you can find on our product page as well.
Mayfair Hotel and Restaurant Supply Company is a single-source supplier, servicing the hospitality industry since 1946. With hundreds of nationally recognized brands, as well as economic brand alternatives in the hospitality, janitorial, paper and foodservice categories, we also offer over 900 nationally stocked “green” options.