Whether you are a concerned traveler, a hotel owner, or a property manager, certainly you are aware of the growing bed bug epidemic. In fact, 1 out of 5 Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel according to a 2011 study. More than likely, those numbers have increased in the 5 years since. Yet as our previous blog stated, this epidemic does NOT rest firmly on the shoulders of the lodging industry. Hotels did not invent bed bugs. Bed bugs are in hotels because guests bring them in, plain and simple. Responsibility lies on the guests AND the lodging industry to help halt the growth of the epidemic.
In particular to the traveler, there are now a number of sites where guests can both view AND submit reports of bed bugs in hotels and motels. A few of the most popular of these sites are:
At first thought, these so-called "bed bug registries" may seem like a great way to avoid bed bugs in your travels. After further consideration, however, there are also several reasons to avoid hotel bed bug registries altogether:
1. They allow users to submit reports about bed bug events in hotels, motels, condos, resorts and apartments.
This is a user-friendly platform, for sure. On most sites, you can enter the hotel name, a zip code, or even just a town name to get a report. These reports show up directly on the site. This may seem like a great way to inform the concerned traveler, until you realize that...
2. The sites DO NOT check for the validity of the report from the user and do not guarantee their accuracy. Each site clearly explains that.
When looking over the information (report) from these sites, you have NO WAY of knowing whether or not the information is accurate. As stated, the sites themselves do not check for accuracy. Deciding whether or not to trust the information is somewhat of a crap-shoot. There could be a myriad of reasons why someone would WANT to report a hotel, or give a particular establishment a bad name. In fact, as reported by Paula Bolyard in the LIFESTYLE section on PJ MEDIA, the Bed Bug Registry's own Maciej Cegłowski, a writer and computer programmer, says that he administers the site "as a way of getting vengeance against bedbugs after a traumatic experience in a San Francisco hotel." His motivation was not to start a conversation, not to try to help the industry or even to help the traveler. His point was to make a point for retribution. Period. And an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
3. The sites MAY contact the hotel to dispute the claim. More often than not, the hotels need to seek out each report, and file a dispute with that website on their own.
Again, these sites simply act as a listing, comprised of statements and claims made by anybody who wants to make a claim. Undoubtedly, some of these claims are true. Undoubtedly, some of these claims are false. Without these sites doing any fact-checking on their own, how are you to know? And WHO expects a hotel to spend their time and employee resources going site to site, registry to registry, to fight a claim made from every corner of the internet? This is an unrealistic expectation.
4. The websites do not automatically provide information about the hotels attempt to rectify the situation. Again, the hotels carry the burden for providing proof of treatment to clear the claim.
If the sites themselves do not check for the validity of a bed bug report, do you really expect them to contact the hotels to see if the situation was cleared? Only 1 of these sites stated that "when possible will contact all hotels for their responses regarding reports." We could not find an instance where this happened. Most hotels take reports of beds bugs seriously, and want to correct a situation where their guests' safety, health and well-being are concerned. It is their lifeline. And again, it is unrealistic for the traveler to expect every hotel to be able to go to these same registries and fight the claim OR state where the problem was cleared.
5. The reports stay online indefinitely, EVEN IF a dispute has been filed.
I have not found a single registry site where claims were removed. Hotels DO fix their issues with bed bugs (and with other pests, too!) There is no reason why a claim made from 2007 should still be online. And yet EVERY site we visited leaves the reports on their site indefinitely. So, while the hotel very likely corrected the situation, the report, and the damage done to the hotel's reputation because of the report, remain on-line. Simply put, THIS IS NOT FAIR!
We believe that cooperation between the guest and the hotel is the BEST way to help stop the spread of the bed bug epidemic.
Hotels need to adopt a standard operating procedure to deal with bed bugs, including advanced training of their housekeeping and front desk staff.
Guests should conduct their own room inspections BEFORE checking in. Guests need to report what they find TO THE HOTEL. Guests can download their own hotel inspection checklist here:
At KnowBedBugs.com we train hotel housekeeping and front desk staff on the identification of bed bugs AND in dealing with their guests should an event occur. After training, each employee is tested. Finally, the hotel is awarded a certification based on the percentage of full-time staff that has trained and passed the testing.
For their part, guests can learn how to identify bed bugs, conduct their own in-room inspections, and even book rooms with certified locations, all from our site at KnowBedBugs.com
We are trying to get out in front of the issue, and understand that it takes cooperation between the hotels and their guests. We are trying to start the conversation.
Check With Us Before You Check In
We Have A Plan!