They're the night-time companions that nobody in the business wants to recognise. And when guests wake after a night with them they are usually less than impressed. I'm talking, of course, about the parasitic elephant in the room - bedbugs.
Historically the UK has held the fearsome bugs at bay, but increased international travel has facilitated their continued spread. Every hotelier will tell you they don't have a problem with bedbugs, but the very fact that none would talk on the record to Caterer and Hotelkeeper about the issue speak volumes about the fear they strike in operators.
Housekeepers have long known the scale of the problem, which is why the UK Housekeeping Association has held workshops demonstrating detection methods and best practice cleaning solutions.
And with the tourism influx created by the Olympics, the need for housekeepers to be on their guard is greater than ever. When Sydney hosted the games in 2000, Australia saw the bedbug population double (although some put this down to resistance to chemical treatment that saw worldwide figures swell).
No matter what calibre a hotel is, the chances are it will have experienced bedbugs at some point. This week we take a look at the scale of the problem and what can be done to control the risks (Profiting from 2012 - The bedbug menace).
Fortunately, with a thorough bedbug strategy in place, and well briefed housekeeping teams, the menace can be minimised. But it certainly won't go away if ignored - bedbugs can quickly spread and become more costly. By identifying and eradicating an infestation as quickly as possible, operators can save extermination costs - and their reputations.
By James Stagg
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