Ten Tips for Creating a Hotel’s Bed Bug Complaint Action Plan

A negative experience by a guest, like uncovering bed bugs, can quickly go one of two ways: it can be a non-event if handled correctly or it can turn into a public relations nightmare resulting in your appearance on the local news, bedbugregistry.com and tripadvisor.com.  Bed bugs are unquestionably one of the worst complaints any hotelier wants to experience!

The thought of a guest uncovering a bed bug infestation before an employee may keep you awake at night. But preparing your staff to handle such a situation is one of the most important proactive steps you can take. Establish a written action plan so your employees are prepared to handle a bed bug complaint and reduce your chances of it turning into a public relations nightmare.  Make certain that once established, this action plan is followed precisely as deviations/omissions can result in significant legal consequences.  However, nothing is worse than the absence of a cogent action plan addressing a bed bug issue. The following tips can help you create your own unique bed bug complaint action plan to ensure that as the hotelier you are empowering your employees to properly handle the situation when it arises.

1. Guests reporting a bed bug complaint will likely approach the desk angry and concerned.  Always empathize with the guest(s) and be prepared to answer their questions honestly and confidently.  A prepared Q&A sheet on bed bugs will help employees be prepared.  Discuss these questions and answers with your pest management professional and practice responses with your Housekeeping and Front Desk staff.  It should contain questions such as:

Do bed bugs transmit disease?
No, according to the Center for Disease control; bed bugs are not known to
spread disease.

Could I take bed bugs home with me?
Drying all of your clothing on the hottest temperature available for 20-30 minutes will kill bed bugs and their eggs. Vacuum the outside of your luggage well upon returning home and dispose of the debris. Do not return your luggage to a sleeping area of your home.  Store it instead in the garage, attic or basement.

2. Interview the guest about what signs of bed bugs they have found. Have a plan in place for the in-house pest management or other trained personnel to thoroughly inspect the hotel room for bed bugs. If evidence of an infestation is found, ensure that the inspector places a sample in a sealed container to confirm the identification of the pest found by a pest professional.

3. If the guest has unpacked, offer to securely bag all clothing and have them washed and dried to ensure that no bed bugs or eggs remain on the clothing. Have their luggage inspected and vacuumed to ensure that no bed bug remnants are left behind.  Ensure they are aware of the precautions you are taking to protect them from taking home bed bugs.

4. Have staff handle the packing and movement of all of their belongings at not charge.

5. Assure the guest(s) that they will be relocated to a room at the very opposite end of the hotel.

6.  Seriously consider compensating (‘comping’) the room for their entire stay.

7.  Always apologize profusely for the inconvenience. Gently remind the guest that bed bugs do not discriminate and while you have a best management practices pest control protocol in place (mandatory requirement) they may have been introduced by the guest immediately before them and missed by housekeeping.  Assure them that you are taking every precaution you can to protect them and their belongings from bed bugs.

8. If evidence of bed bugs is confirmed in the room, immediately take the room out of service and contact your licensed pest control professional to service the room and the surrounding rooms for bed bugs.

9. Follow the advice of your pest management professional to determine how long each room (target and surrounding) should be taken out of service and when it is safe to rent the room back out.

10. If bed bug infestations are of high concern, costing you money in lost revenues and high pest control costs, and you fear loss of brand reputation, consider how a proactive preventive measure such as an active mattress liner might positively impact your bottom line. Our savings calculator can help determine your best installation solution.

While some of the above precautions may seem extreme and expensive for a hotel to adopt, just imagine how news about the hotel having bed bugs could impact the bottom line.  Internet sites like bedbugregistry.com and tripadvisor.com make it extremely easy for guests to speak to the masses about a negative experience, truth notwithstanding.  Having trained personnel ready to handle a potential bed bug incident/infestation will pay enormous dividends and support hotel profitability.

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