|The Small Guests Who Do Not Pay.|
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 23rd September 2013
Exclusive Feature: For a few years now, the global hospitality industry is being confronted with a problem that we nearly had forgotten.
In the downward open scale of negative hotel publicity there is an ultimate ground zero – far beyond cold coffee, dusty bedside table drawer and nightly parties at the corridor. It is the reliable fundamental explosive, the killer criticism for a hotel from which it will not recover soon. If at all.
There are bed bugs, an absolute taboo in the hospitality industry. To write this word alone, does demand enormous self-discipline. Others have apparently not these qualms: In hotel reviews bugs serve regularly as a last resort, to get out of the - real or imagined - inferiority of the accomodation.
You may agree with us: Bugs just don't care, whether a hotel is spotlessly clean or filthy, whether it has five-star plus standard, or even no star at all. Whereas our grandparents do know the little guests unasked-for from the hard times, our generation is completely consternated. The hospitality industry owes the new infestation especially the paying guests: bugs are introduced from other hotels in clothing and luggage of travellers. Once arrived in a room, they spread rapidly.
There have always been bugs, but in recent years they lived on much better conditions: on the one hand, the unsavory travellers have developed resistances to poisons. On the other hand, the strongest toxins such as DDT were taken from the markets, to avoid health hazards for humans. Not only the hotel industry have been promoted by the growth of freight transport and tourism.
For hotels, it is essential to deal offensively with this six-legged, nasty reputational damage - in the double meaning: On the one hand, the parasites must be tracked down and destroyed quickly, on the other hand the problems should be communicated openly, before they start to circle as fatally exaggerated rumours over the hotel review portals. As with all unpleasant things: silence cannot clear up the mess, but makes things only worse!
The existence of an efficient system of crisis reporting is necessary for the first step. This task is especially with your housekeeping, as quickly as possible to register the infestation. A protesting guest you have to examine accurately and always seriously. Carefully examine his evidence. Unfortnately this is not so easy.
Ask the guest to go for a closer discussion of his appeal to a separate room so that other guests would not listen. Log all details of his complaint. Of course, the guest will require a new room - he may obtain that but only if his luggage has been proved bug-free.
Wash all clothes and bedding with at least 60 degrees. Bags and shoes are treated in the dryer for at least 20 minutes at maximum temperature. Freezing helps with other things such as books or wooden objects: According to University of Minnesota, it needs ten hours to kill bugs at -18 degrees Celsius. Infested rooms shall be heated to 45 degrees with special furnaces, the bug breed is destroyed after 30 minutes.
But first the parasites must be identified. An international pest exterminator names bed bugs as "Kings of the hiding game". They are not only extremely small (between 0.1 and 0.7 inches), but also photophobia and nocturnal. During the day they hide in tiny crevices and can survive up to two years without food there. As soon as they find a host more, they start to wander around.
So leave the infested hotel room and looking for food. Within a year, 1 single bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs - these descendants spread rapidly. The distinctive sweet smell like the the even tiny droppings and skinning remains display the bug infestation. Hiding places are often found near beds, heat and drought. Joints, outlets, drill holes, skirting boards, picture frame and panelling serve as a hiding place.
In three months an introduced bug can contaminate a whole hotel - with dramatic consequences for your reputation. Is a room recognized as a disease, it must be locked rigorously. This also applies to the staff. Also old linen, trolleys, trolleys of the housekeeping must be checked meticulously.
This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.
Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info: www.4Hoteliers.com/itb.
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