It’s the end of 2021 and traveling is back in full force after almost two years of less travel. With the rise of travel comes the reemergence of bed bugs, making it important to learn how to protect your business and reputation this time of year. Recent research has shown that pest control operators have seen service frequency for these biting, blood-sucking pests increase this year—with bed bug activity doubling since summer of 2020! Bed bugs are a year-round threat to hotel properties. They are hitchhiking pests that are introduced to properties on people and their belongings. Over the last several years, reports of bed bug encounters in airports, on public transportation, at schools and colleges, at movie theaters, and even in offices have ticked up. When travelers arrive at your hotel, they could unknowingly be bringing bed bugs from any of these places with them.
With travel spiking in the coming months, the chances of a bed bug problem developing can increase. And with the holiday season here, now is the time to make every effort to prevent bed bugs from infesting your hotel. Bain Pest Control is here to help.
Hotel Occupancy Predictions During the Holidays
According to Statista, hotels showed decreased occupancy rates for November and December 2020 due to the pandemic. Although not yet equal to the pre-pandemic peak occupancy rates, hotels have already experienced increases over the past year as travel restrictions have lessened and families are planning to gather again. A report by experts from Rentokil showed a 148% increase in bed bug activity in January and February 2021 compared to the earlier months of 2020. But what do these upward trends mean? Unfortunately, it signals that more and more guests will be coming through hotels in the winter months, which leads to the increased risk of a bed bug infestation.
For this holiday season, the biggest concern is the recent reports that indicate reduced room cleaning protocols that may be here to stay as hotels across the country look for ways to save money and deal with a short staff.
How to Prepare for Peak Occupancy Periods
The bad news is bed bugs can truly be introduced to your hotel at any time. The good news is that there are several ways you can help protect your property against an infestation:
- Analyze your chain or individual property’s occupancy trends in November and December from the last two or three years. If you can detect a pattern, think about scheduling a bed bug inspection with your pest management provider ahead of the trend. This can help you catch any potential problems before your flux of guests begin to arrive for the season.
- A visual inspection will be provided by your pest control expert, which involves a technician visiting each room designated and performing a check of high-risk areas for signs of bed bug activity. While incredibly accurate, this method is time and labor-intensive.
- Another option provided by some pest control companies is canine inspections, which use specially trained and certified animals to detect and alert to the presence of bed bugs. This is a discreet, accurate, and highly effective way to perform inspections.
Bed Bug Activity
If you are experiencing lower occupancy rates, you may think you are safe from bed bug infestations. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In the absence of a human host, however, bed bugs can go into a state of dormancy. In fact, various research done on bed bugs has shown that at average room temperatures, bed bugs can survive for up to 2 to 3 months without feeding. This means those bed bugs can easily hide out in a room until it’s occupied once more.
Even worse, bed bugs that are lacking a host to feed on can and will travel to find one. In addition to hitching a ride on people and luggage, bed bugs can crawl from room to room. This mean bed bugs in one hotel room can eventually make their way to a neighboring room, entirely of their own volition!
How Your Hotel Staff Can Help Prevent Bed Bugs
Your first and best line of defense in preventing bed bugs is your very own staff. In the course of their daily responsibilities, housekeeping and maintenance staff can help by doing quick spot-checks for bed bug activity. You should enlist your staff members to always take note of the following:
- Inspect for signs of bed bug activity on the mattress, box spring, bed frame, headboard, and sheets. This may include any living or dead insects, bed bug fecal smears, cast skins, or small blood spots. When inspecting the bed frame, check the slats, rails, and platforms.
- Look closely at the floor and baseboards around the bed before vacuuming, as well as around any outlets near the bed. Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices and may be seen wedging themselves into outlets or behind baseboard coverings during daytime hours. There may be living or dead bed bugs in these areas, or even cast skins.
Protect Your Customers From Bed Bugs This Holiday Season
Bottom line: no one wants the unexpected gift of an encounter with bed bugs as they are traveling this holiday season. It’s imperative to protect your brand and customers from bed bugs by ensuring that you have a bed bug defense plan in place year-round, even in off-peak travel months. Have your property routinely inspected, and schedule those inspections ahead of peak holiday travel times as an extra defensive measure. Finally, be sure that your staff understands bed bug behavior, the signs of a potential bed bug problem, and how to report a potential issue. With these simple steps, you can reduce the chances of a bed bug issue at your property. At Bain Pest Control, our bed bug pest control experts are happy to help keep hotels in our community pest-free. Contact us today to get started!