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The Threat of Bed Bugs in the Hotel Industry & How to Mitigate Risk

hotel hallway with a red carpet and brown doors

Hotel managers face a common conundrum when it comes to the dreaded b-word: bed bugs. The challenge is that they must address any issues swiftly, while at the same time keep them under wraps (which is not to be confused with sweeping the issue under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist.) 

While transparency may always seem like the best policy, in many cases it’s been proven to have the opposite effect, and many hotel managers find themselves in the familiar predicament of doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t.



The financial impact of bed bugs in the hotel industry cannot be understated. From negative publicity to diminished brand value to the loss of business, infestations are not something to be taken lightly. Bed bugs are a serious issue, and the problem can’t simply be chalked up to unsanitary conditions (in fact, this has been shown to be incorrect).

In fact, something as simple as word-of-mouth can make an enormous impact, such as the report funded by Protect-a-Bed, a mattress protector company, which showed that bed bug reports lowered the value of a hotel room by $21 for leisure travelers and $38 for business travelers.

Other often “hidden” costs arise in out-of-court settlement cases, such as when a hotel is sued for bed bugs and the property owner decides to settle the claim out of court. These settlements have ranged anywhere from $8,000 to a whopping $150,000, depending upon the victim’s level of mental anguish.


Aptly named the “public health pest” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these pests aren’t generally considered dangerous, but the effect of their bites can range from a small bite mark to itchy red welts to severe allergic reactions requiring medical attention. In addition, excess scratching may lead to infection in extreme cases.



Bed bugs are typically brought into a hotel room from a guest’s luggage. To keep these pests at bay, housekeeping staff should be properly trained upon hire on how to detect and control bed bugs so that they may address any problems should they arise.

Training should consist of:

  • Teaching staff members to properly identify a bed bug both by appearance and behavior
  • Thorough laundering and room-cleaning techniques
  • Equipping staff with flashlights so that they may thoroughly inspect dark areas in and around the bed, closets, drawers, etc.

In addition to being properly trained upon hire, staff should also be required to undergo a refresher course to sharpen their skills over time.


Negative online reviews can be downright debilitating to the hotel industry, and that’s especially true if those reviews are centered around bed bugs.

The issue is due in large part to the fact that most travelers decide on their hotel accommodations online, and then weigh their decisions heavily on the reviews of other travelers. Even so much as someone commenting that a hotel is “bed bug free” can cause concern and panic among would-be guests. In fact, according to a 2015 survey, bed bugs were rated at the top of people’s list of concerns when picking a hotel.

To keep these negative reviews at bay, it’s a smart idea to have a staff member regularly monitoring hotel review sites (such as Trip Advisor) to keep on top of what is being circulated around about the hotel and ensure that guests will find your hotel to be a safe, comfortable choice. Instilling confidence and peace of mind in your guests is key to fostering this environment.

It’s not hard to see that bed bugs pose a serious threat to the hospitality industry. If you’re struggling with a bed 
bug infestation in your hotel or facility, you can’t afford to wait. Get your free bed bug control estimate so that you can swiftly address any issues before you lose business.