Bed Bug Worries Making Americans More Selective About Hotels

Two independent polls of hotel consumers and hotel managers released today by pest control company Orkin, Inc. show that the bed bug resurgence is making a majority of Americans more selective when choosing hotels.

More than half (59 percent) of poll respondents said they are more selective when choosing a hotel as a result of the bed bug resurgence.

The poll also showed that bed bug problems in one hotel can affect the entire chain. If there is a bed bug problem in one hotel, 38 percent of travelers surveyed would be less likely to stay in another hotel in the same chain. Seventeen percent would consider forgoing a hotel completely. The problem is even more acute among higher income groups, who tend to be the most frequent travelers. These travelers are significantly less likely than others to choose a hotel if they have heard about a bed bug infestation anywhere in the same hotel chain.

According to Orkin Technical Director Frank Meek, B.C.E., bed bugs do not cause any direct health threats, but their bites can result in itchy, bloody welts. “There has been a rise in international travel in recent years, which has helped contribute to the increase in bed bugs being seen,” Meek said. “Bed bugs are great hitchhiking pests and can travel in luggage and other personal belongings.”

The poll confirmed what most hoteliers fear – that many victims of bed bug bites will react swiftly and negatively and spread the word, too. If bitten by a bed bug while staying at a hotel:

  • Nearly nine in 10 respondents – 88 percent – would complain to the manager,

  • 58 percent would never go back to that hotel,

  • 51 percent would notify the health department,

  • 50 percent would leave the hotel, and

  • 50 percent would tell five or more people about their experience.

Hotels Preparing Well for Bed Bug Issues

Seventy-four percent of hotels surveyed have an action policy in place to respond to a guest who claims to have been bitten by a bed bug. For those with a bed bug action policy, 64 percent say they would immediately move the guest to another room in the hotel and then call in a professional to inspect the room. Sixty-one percent would quarantine the room and surrounding rooms. Meek said quarantining surrounding rooms is an important step to keep bed bugs from spreading throughout the hotel.

Nearly 70 percent of hotel managers are confident that their housekeeping staffs could accurately identify the signs of a bed bug infestation during their regular room cleanings. Meek suggested that hotel managers work with a reputable pest management company to train their staff to recognize the signs of bed bugs. He also recommended that travelers come prepared to inspect the room themselves.

"Bed bugs can multiply quickly, and hotels must be vigilant in their monitoring efforts to ensure their pest management program is working,” Meek added. “These results show that bed bugs can have a negative impact on hotels, especially hotel chains, and shouldn’t be ignored.

Poll Methodology

Hotel consumer data is from a survey conducted by Acromatics using FGI Research service from March 30-April 4, 2007. The online survey polled 1,052 adults (aged 18 and over) in the contiguous United States. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3 percentage points. Hotelier data is based on the responses of 289 hospitality insiders to an online poll.

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