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Behind the Scenes Sept. 1, 2012

Bed Bugs Be Gone
Bed bugs are what a hotel manager’s nightmares are made of, especially as reports of guests finding bed bugs in hotels make news on a regular basis. A 2011 National Pest
Management Association and University of Kentucky survey of U.S. pest professionals found 80% had treated bed bugs in hotel and motel environments. Hotels are particularly vulnerable to bed bug problems due to the steady stream of guests who can bring these pests in their luggage or on their clothing.

While bed bugs are certainly not something for which a hotel wants to be known, hoteliers can rest assured that being proactive and following a set of guidelines will go a long way in safeguarding the property’s reputation and possibly avoiding lawsuits in case of an incident.

The National Pest Management Association recommends hoteliers develop a bed bug action plan. These guidelines can be used as a foundation to help recognize and effectively respond to bed bug problems:
• Provide training for housekeeping, front desk and maintenance staff on bed bugs, including how they spread, what they look like, what to do if they find evidence of bed bugs, how to respond to a bed bug complaint, steps to satisfy affected guests and other related information.
• Mandate that housekeeping staff perform a bed bug check during every room service and maintenance staff to periodically remove and check behind headboards and under box springs.
• Follow proper laundry handling practices to reduce the risk of spreading bed bugs by keeping clean and dirty laundry separate at all times and by keeping carts in the hallway during room service.
• Consider scheduling regular bed bug inspections by a pest management professional of all rooms and public areas.
• Cover mattresses and box springs with bed bug-proof encasements.
• Consider ways to make bed bugs easier to detect when redesigning guestrooms, such as fewer or lighter fabrics, less clutter and white bedding.
• Respond empathetically to a guest complaint and treat it as the highest priority. At a minimum the guest should be moved to a new room.
• If bed bugs are reported in a room, don’t simply move guests out of the room and leave it empty for weeks in hopes the bugs disappear.
• Don’t ignore the rooms adjacent to or directly above and below the possibly infested room.
• Arrange for an inspection by a pest professional experienced in bed bug control (if not already under contract).
• Don’t put a room back into service until your pest professional has given you the all clear.
• Previously infested rooms should be regularly inspected for two to three months after they’ve been placed back in service.

Missy Henriksen is the vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, a non-profit organization that supports the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For a guide to Bed Bug Best Management Practices, go to AllThingsBedBugs.org.

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