Bed bugs are problematic. Not only are they likely to be costly to eliminate, but the cost to your reputation could be far worse.
Take the Hilton's Palm Desert Embassy Suites in Palm Springs, California. When Victoria's Secret model Sabrina Jales St Pierre discovered bed bugs in her room in 2016 she immediately took to the internet to showcase her bites and shame the hotel. She is also suing the hotel for loss of earnings as the (approximately 90) ugly red welts meant that she could not work for close to two months. As a result, the hotel's reputation was certainly negatively impacted. But could the hotel bounce back from this? Definitely.
What sort of reputational damage could a bed bug infestation cause?
Hoteliers say that the occupancy rate of a hotel can decrease up to 20% within four weeks of an outbreak going. There is a loss of earnings that accompanies the publicity, not to mention the possible cost of damages if your guests decide to take legal action. Brian Virag (representing Jales St Pierre) is an Encino-based attorney who specializes in suing hotel and apartment owners when guests or tenants have been bitten by bedbugs. His string of jury verdicts in bedbug cases has made him a leading expert on bedbug lawsuits.
Of course, the ideal situation would be to avoid the bed bug epidemic altogether, but it is impossible to prevent these pests from entering your hotel. They are avid hitchhikers, and even with the best housekeeping practices in place, they can arrive with your guests. It's also easy for housekeeping employees to miss a spot. Bed bugs can easily go undetected until it is too late - and they are noticed by a guest. A professional pest control provider knows exactly where to look for these unwanted guests.
Damage control for bed bugs:
So, in the unfortunate case of a negative review or comment on TripAdvisor or Twitter, here is what we propose you do:
1. Deal with negative comments head-on. Don't ignore negative comments, rather ensure that your hotel personally and promptly replies to said negative tweet or review.
2. Acknowledge, apologize and gift. Don't deny the claims: accept the comments and apologize for what the guest's negative experience. Wherever possible, try to gift the guest with a voucher or perhaps a refund if appropriate.
3. Provide reassurance. Publicly reassure your customers that your hotel endeavours to maintain the highest standards of pest management possible. Reassure them that this occurrence was an anomaly and that you have already dealt with the problem quickly and professionally. Then make sure you have a professional, reputable pest control operator in to treat accordingly.
Hire a professional pest control service:
Over time it IS possible to regain any lost reputation. However, to avoid an epidemic and any further potential negative customer reviews, we strongly recommend that you have regular professional bed bug treatments and prevention measures put in place to detect infestations early on. If you think you may have a problem, read our post on how to know if you have bed bugs or visit our website for more information on getting rid of bed bugs. Alternately contact Rentokil for a free survey of your hotel.
In light of the fact that it's World Bed Bug Awareness Week, we are offering all our residential customers a 15% discount on bed bug treatments booked between 3rd June 2019 - 7th June 2019. Call us on 0800 77 77 88 for a quote.
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