A new study in American Entomologist has revealed that although travellers are very concerned about them few can recognize bed bugs. When shown a line-up of bug pictures only 28% of leisure travellers were able to correctly identify which was a bed bug; while performing slightly better only 35% of business travellers were able to recognize bed bugs.
Although seeing any bug in your hotel room would be alarming this study is important because the same study revealed that 60% of travellers would avoid a hotel based on a single online report of a bed bug sighting. For hotels and those in the travel industry this represents a huge problem: if one person sees a bug in their hotel room, even an innocuous one that could have flown in while the door was open, is unwilling to stay in the hotel afterwards, and drives away future visitors, then revenue will be negatively impacted. But despite that more than half of the survey respondents said they aren’t worried about bed bugs when they travel. That response makes sense: for years bed bugs were almost non-existent in the USA and unless you or someone you know has had an infestation they’re probably not on your radar.
If you are a frequent traveller it’s important to be able to recognize bed bugs. We have an entire reference page devoted to this, and it’s worth taking a look so you know what the various life stages (from egg to adult) look like. If you do find a bed bug in your hotel it’s important to judge the hotel on what their response is. Although this sounds alarming almost every hotel will have had a guest bring bed bugs with them at one point: what matters is how proactive they are in treating the room. As one reporter recounted when her colleague found bed bugs in her hotel room she was immediately moved into a new room, had her belongings sent for cleaning and had her stay comped. When a hotel reacts like that you know that the infestation will be taken care of promptly.