Bed Bug Research Focuses on Hotel Business


October 16, 2015

New research from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has revealed findings about the financial impact bed bugs can have on the travel and hospitality industry.

The research was conducted by University of Kentucky entomologist and Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Famer Dr. Michael Potter, a Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor; Agricultural Economics Professor Dr. Wuyang Hu; and doctoral student Jerrod Penn, Department of Agricultural Economics.

“The goal of the research was to understand consumer preferences when choosing a hotel for business or leisure travel, and how the risk of bed bugs influences their decision,” says Penn, the lead author of the study, which was funded through a grant from Protect-A-Bed, a global producer of protective bedding products.

The research reveals that on average, a single report of bed bugs in recent traveler reviews lowers the value of a hotel room by $38 and $23 per room per night for business and leisure travelers, respectively.

When presented with various problematic issues encountered in hotel rooms, finding signs of bed bugs had the largest proportion of respondents choosing to switch hotels. Reactions to other concerns (smoke odor, unclean bathroom, dirty sheets, etc.) mostly involved reporting the concern to the front desk and requesting another room.

On the bright side, information about some protective services received positive reactions from travelers. Both business and leisure travelers placed the greatest economic value on protective mattress encasements as a form of bed bug protection, followed by periodic (semiannual, for example) room inspections by professional pest management companies.

“But travelers placed a relatively small dollar value on regular inspections by housekeeping staff,” Penn points out.

The study also found that business travelers are better at correctly identifying bed bugs, have more personal experience with the pests, and have reported them in online reviews much more often than leisure travelers. About 33 percent of business travelers and 20 percent of leisure travelers either know someone who has encountered bed bugs or had encountered them themselves.

For more information, visit the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.


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