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BED BUGS, THE COST OF DOING NOTHING

Bed bugs are more than just a nuisance for hotel guests – they can spell disaster for a business, both in terms of reputational damage and litigation costs. 

Bed bugs aren’t scary. At least according to a recent survey carried out by Orkin and Georgia Tech in the US. But their presence can spell financial disaster for businesses.

A report by Orkin ‘Behind the Cost of Bed Bugs’ released last year, revealed some startling statistics on the impact of bed bugs in the US hospitality industry. In 2016, 82% of hotels treated for bed bugs at an average cost of US$6,383 per incident. These costs included lost revenue and disposal of affected items, as well as the bed bug treatment. Some 45% of hotels faced litigation as a result of the infestations, with the average litigation costing over $17,000. And with an average 7.1 bed bug litigations over a five-year period, the potential financial hit to an individual hotel was over $165,000.

If you factor in the ruined reputation and subsequent loss of business, the real costs were much higher. When one negative online review can deliver an instant hit to a business, especially those that rely on good customer feedback like hotels, an active bed bug management plan is imperative.

Although most hotels had some preventative programs in place, with 85% using staff inspections at the very least, the number of bed bug incidents that still occurred showed there was clearly room for improvement. The story is likely the same in Australia, which creates potential business opportunities for pest managers.

Of course, it’s important to remember that bed bug issues are not confined to hotels or homes. Wherever infested people or luggage travel, bed bugs go with them. In July, Air India grounded two aircraft operating between India and the US, when a number of passengers were bitten during flights. Social media posts by affected passengers showing their bites meant the airline’s reputation was negatively impacted which in turn resulted in a decrease in bookings and loss of revenue.

The fact that the passengers in question were business class passengers only magnified the issue. It also illustrated that bed bugs don’t discriminate – whether you’re a five-star business or a budget backpacker hostel, you need a bed bug management plan. And that means plenty of opportunities for pest managers!

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