Wednesday June 14, 2017
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Most business and leisure travelers in the United States can’t identify a bed bug, and yet the pest evokes a stronger response in hotel guests than any other potential room deficiency.
In a survey of U.S. travelers conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, 60 percent said they would switch hotels if they found evidence of bed bugs in a guest room. In the same survey, however, just 35 percent of business travelers and 28 percent of leisure travelers correctly identified a bed bug in a lineup of common insects. The survey report is soon to be published in American Entomologist, the quarterly magazine of the Entomological Society of America.
“Considering all the media attention paid to bed bugs in recent years, the fact that most travelers still have a poor understanding of them is troubling,” says Michael Potter, Ph.D., extension professor in UK’s Department of Entomology and co-author of the study.
It is particularly problematic given the central role that online reviews play in travelers’ selection of where to stay. Even just one erroneous review could unduly harm a hotel’s reputation, as more than half of survey respondents said they would be very unlikely to choose a hotel with a single online report of bed bugs.
Other findings include:
• More than half (56 percent) of respondents said they either never considered the threat of bed bugs while traveling or considered it but were not worried.
• If a hotel provided information on steps it takes to prevent bed bug infestations, 46 percent of respondents said they would stay at the hotel and would appreciate knowing about those measures. The second most common response, however, was “do it, but don’t tell me” (24 percent).
• An overwhelming majority (80 percent) of respondents said hotels should be required to tell guests if their room has had a prior problem with bed bugs.