The Vicious Circle Continues
Bed bugs plague the hospitality industry with repeated and continued re-introduction. Although many attempts are being made to eliminate the pest; there is still a lack of communication and education for a significant behavioral change.
The biggest problem with the hospitality industry is that they can treat a claimed or suspected bed bug problem one day and bed bugs are on the feet or luggage of the next guest that enters their door. That causes another “reactive” treatment soon following the last. This is repeated over and over costing the industry thousands of dollars, less than acceptable results and the probability of a patron taking a hitchhiker home that turns into an infestation and possibly a law suit.
Another and real concern I hear about is the exposure to repeated application and buildup of pesticides which adds to and has been known to cause more resistance over the years.
The IBBRA Bed Bug Crisis Hotline receives hundreds of calls monthly from people all over the world asking about bed bugs. Some people have traveled and brought them back with them to infest their homes. Some never knowing where they picked them up or if it was a hotel or lodging facility they could have gotten them from. And there are others who woke in the middle of the night being bit and call asking what do I do?
At this time I usually call the hotels front management and help them so that the patron is satisfied and dealt with properly without giving away the house. Examining the perils and possible repercussions the management often says to me “what would I have done if you had not called me? Thank you”
In the interest of compiling statistics for our global public bed bug awareness each caller is asked questions pertaining to their travels and what is expected of their lodging. In most all cases people respond since they now have experienced bed bugs to some degree and know what they know about them; they would rather search for a hotel that has a protection plan in place than stay at a hotel that doesn’t.
If I only knew then what I know now…
Most people had heard about bed bugs in the news but knew nothing about them and never expected that they would fail victim to them. But a whopping 94% of the people surveyed didn’t know the signs of bed bugs or what to look for, what to do when they go into a hotel room, how to pack or what to pack. It is only after they brought the bed bugs home that they started to research and find out about them.
This brings us to realize a very serious problem that continues to grow daily. For how long can these lodging facilities continue to treat and over treat on a suspicion of bed bugs? Do you take the word of the patron or could they have brought them in from home? Could they have gotten bitten at another hotel, in a taxis or limousine? Maybe they picked a few up on their luggage in the overhead bins of an airplane. What does it take to keep them off the ever growing lists of disgruntled guests writing about their experiences on the internet and from being known as bed bug hotel from hell? How can a hotel redeem their reputation after all this?
There actually is a simple yet logical explanation and process that can help to change this behavior in the industry as we know it. It entails an upfront investigation on their recent process and then a significant behavioral change; but in the long run can help to cut down on the unnecessary and constant pouring out of monies over and over that the industry is now paying.
People deserve to have a safe, clean environment that protects them against bed bugs and has their best interest in mind at all times. It’s a process that needs to be customized for each hotel but well worth the time spent in the long run.
The IBBRA is working closely with several hotels helping them put a preventative bed bug program in place. No longer do hotels need to hide from or feel the need to be secretive as they will be able to speak it out loud, be proud and advertise it and assure their clients a safe protected environment in which to stay.
Although an outline of their program is in their Bed Bug Hospitality and Risk Management book to learn more about their program call 888-966-2332
Are you being “hooked” into buying products you “think” can help because of fancy marketing gimmicks and claims? Twenty bucks here and ten buck there and once the moneys in their hands and without any regard they move on the next victim leaving you with the false sense of security and the remains of a larger infestation.
As quoted by one of our IBBRA Advisory Team Members William Curry of B R Pro Service in Glenshaw, Pa, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“Most discouraging are those in business promising results, giving unrealistic guaranties and ultimately taking clients’ money without regard to the outcome of the service promised.”……. William Curry
Dating back to when the “bed bug frenzy” really started to take hold, media grabbed story after story about people facing a new super tough bug in their lives. The industry touted the fact that these blood suckers were the toughest pest to get rid of and in a short matter of time people’s wheels started to turn to developing products for quick fixes.
Trusting Souls and Savvy Marketing
We have seen some of these products come and go but many are still here preying on the innocence of those who fall victim to bed bugs. In the minds of the consumer we still think that all products found on the shelves of stores are regulated and telling the truth, “they must be or they wouldn’t be on the market” right?
We couldn’t be more wrong.
Is compliance failing? No, because there is no compliance when it comes to these types of products.
Entrepreneurs beat feet to their local contact manufacturers to mix up a magical potion, label it for bed bugs and ran to grab their market share. Savvy marketing skills coupled with a great idea that anyone desperately searching for relief would be sucked into because it sounded good and figured “what the heck” let’s try it.
These types of products have no responsibility to provide for any efficacy claims of their products. Most of them fall under an ingredient exempt list holding no one accountable for efficacy. No accountability – put anything on the market that you want, create a “story”, make up false claims with no testing, give the consumer a false sense of security, and be the cause of the spread of and greater infestations – pad your pockets with lots of jingle – and get away with it.
I had actually confronted an owner of a company who said to me, “Look it can’t hurt anyone so why shouldn’t I be able to make a few bucks?”
What about the stores that carry these types of products? When applying to be a vendor for some stores one must go through the channels and fill out forms which get reviewed by corporate. The bottom line in for most of these products to make it on the shelves is the return on investment (ROI). I know this because I used to provide a product to the general public and had to go through the channels of acceptance myself in order to become a vendor.
Fortunately the stores in which I sold had a Scientific Regulatory Division and I had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt with clinical evidence and testing (which stripped me to the bare bones financially) that my product development did exactly what it was purported to do.
I filled out legal and insurance forms, jumped through a million and one hoops and finally after a year and a half was accepted for placement on their shelves. Anyone could see full disclosure of each and every ingredient, where the ingredients were derived, the country and manufacturer they came from, the chemical composition, shelf life, any possible side effects, final composition of ingredient mixture and long term clinical studies that accompanied the product.
An exhausting and arduous task, being completely transparent and held responsible helped me sleep at night knowing I put something into the market that had a proven benefit to the consumer.
Swimming in a Tank of Sharks (not the TV show)
On the other hand, it’s unfortunate that the products listed on the exempt list are left to the ignorance of the buyer. Unless the product injures, wounds, cripples, disables, incapacitates, impairs, mars, mutilates, lacerates, disfigures, deforms, mangles, maims or kills a person, no proof or studies need to be done.
Regulatory stance toward this for me is unconscionable in light of the harm it wreaks, and its weakness makes being proactive on a personal level all the more important.
These tanks consists of hungry corporations sucking up the product that best give them their return on investment. I have nothing against looking for the best return on investment but not at the risk of hurting people or taking advantage of their ignorance. So for the contract manufacturer the risk is virtually eliminated, their costs are miniscule and returns for volumes of products sold are great. Why wouldn’t anyone want to sell to these tanks?
Excellence in Evidence
I encourage the public to ask more questions and not fall for a “story” or packaging that looks good. Let’s use the popular soy bean claims as an example. The sudden upsurge in the recommendation of soy as a health food has been nothing more than a clever marketing gimmick to further reduce the cost and nutritional content of your food. 
Did you know that almost 98% of all soy beans are manufactured here in the US and grown under GMO conditions? When is the last time you looked at the packaging of that product you purchase because you heard that “soy beans” were good for you? Soy might be hiding under in ingredient lists — words like “bullion,” “natural flavor,” and “textured plant protein.”
Genetically modified soybeans are designed to be “Roundup ready.” That’s right. They are chemically engineered to withstand heavy doses of herbicides without killing the plant! What does this mean for your health and the health of your unborn or yet-to-be-conceived children?
Most soybean, corn, cotton and canola crops in the U.S. are genetically altered. Some experts argue that these crops could pose serious health and environmental risks, but the scientific picture is currently incomplete — deliberately so.
Agricultural corporations have restricted independent research on the crops. They have refused to provide independent scientists with seeds, or else have set restrictive conditions that severely limit research. This is legal because under U.S. law, genetically engineered crops are patentable.
I insist on Buyer Beware with anything you purchase! Pick it up from the shelf and ask yourself, do I need, want or desire this? If it becomes a need or necessity then ask as many questions about the product you can. Find out where the ingredients come from, ask for studies that back it up and most certainly ask about efficacy testing before you spend your hard earned money. As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself, and don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with family and friends.
Here is a product that was brought to my attention today to take a look at and ask questions about. By using this as an example, hopefully I can help in explaining how marketing claims with these types of products are done. Let’s look at the “buzz” words used. Within the Federal Trade Commissions (FTCs) regulatory labeling guidelines for products are many “grey” areas that one can make a statement but “dance” around the truth just enough yet be able to get away with it on their packaging. Using the words “may, might be, has been known to, when used in accordance with are just some statements used.
Benefits: (Marketing Claims)
The Bed Bug Patch delivers up to 36 hours total body protection to reduce or prevent Bed Bug bites. The Thiamin B 1 – based formula is completely natural and provides convenient protection without the smell or mess of sprays. Commonly taken orally as a vitamin supplement with recognized health benefits, Thiamin is eliminated not only in the urine but is excreted through perspiration as well. Using the skin’s unique ability to absorb and release, The Bed Bug Patch delivers a far more efficient dosage of the B 1 supplement, maximizing protection from Bed Bugs.
- Natural & Organic – Each patch contains 50 mg of Thiamin B1
- Safe for Adults & Children – Children under 2 year olds need supervision
- Uses the B1 Vitamin – vitamin supplement with recognized health benefits
- 36 Hour Relief – 36 hours of total body protection to reduce or prevent Bed Bug Bites.
- 100% Money back Guarantee
First, it states it’s natural and organic. I say show me! What’s “natural about it”? What do they mean by natural? Natural what? Is the vitamin B derived from a natural source? If so which source?
How can you say it is organic? What’s organic about it? The patch or the Thiamin B1 that is infused into the patch? If so, where did the Thiamin B1 ingredient come from and where are the forms and certifications showing me that it is grown or produced in a certified organic environment?
Where are the tests showing me that the exact amount of 50 mg of Thiamin B1 was studied and tested in order to come up with this particular formula that works? How did you know that 50 mg is what was needed?
Being that Vitamin B1 does have health benefits and is recognized for that, for what form of Vitamin B1 did that study come from? And what are the health benefits when put into your particular product?
Where are the studies showing me that your product actually gets absorbed into the skin? Were there “baseline” tests done? Let me see the before and after’s.
Was a test done on sensitive skin issues? How does it react?
Did you do an accelerated shelf life study on the product? If so what was the conclusion?
Show me the study concluding and proving that you actually get 36 hours of relief from bed bugs.
As you can see, I can go on and on with many more questions but as risk of making this blog way too long for the attention of most I won’t. It was these types of questions and proof that I had to go through before I placed my product on the market.
And for those who understand bed bugs and their nature, assuming for discussion sake that the product works as stated. If so, couldn’t the Bed Bug Patch actually spread an infestation by “masking the food source” resulting in bugs dispersing to other areas looking for a blood meal?
We are asking the company to show us the proof that this product has been tested, is efficacious and will prevent or protect against bed bugs as they say it does.
We are always here to help! www.ibbra.org
Bed bugs – A Growing Issue of Real Concern for All
When bed bugs leave their calling card, people tend to blame anyone around them in order to deny any correlation to possibly being the one that introduced them. I’ve heard stories from people that insist that their infestation is the fault of the person next door, a friend that visited, the landlord, their child’s friend, a maintenance worker and everyone else but themselves. Fingers are pointed every which way but back at themselves.
Face it; bed bugs are a people problem. With their cryptic nature and ease of hitchhiking they can be picked up anywhere by anyone without noticing. It has nothing to do with whether a person is clean or dirty, what creed or race, or economic influence. It’s just a fact of life.
It is at this time that whether you find just one or several, bed bugs need to take precedence at the earliest discovery over fixing the screen door or repairing the carpet. The screen door will remain broken and the carpet isn’t going anywhere but the bed bugs will continue to reproduce causing more issues as time goes by.
This isn’t just for Landlords or property management, it’s for everyone! So how can people work together “collectively” to help eliminate and best control the re-introduction of bed bugs?
It’s time to get educated! The first step in being able to understand the long term ramifications of bed bugs is learning all you can about them. As a landlord that wants to keep their property and tenants safe and units occupied, you need to call in a bed bug professional management company to assist in training you and all staff members first. Then each of your tenants’ require a comprehensive training in acknowledging signs of bed bugs, prevention techniques along with a copy of your bed bug addendum, and policies and procedures.
Stressing the importance of all working together as a team is an obstacle that many landlords have problems with. It begins with people that just “can’t find the time” to do the proper preparation, ignore the preparation process or don’t want to do it, to people that can’t afford the processes (drying all clothing and items, totes) or are physically challenged.
Unfortunately when the “process” lacks cooperation from all tenants, the money spent and the success of a bed bug treatment goes right down the tubes. The bed bugs spread into adjoining units creating more suffering and anguish for all; and of course repeated but more unresolved treatments.
As a landlord the problem runs deep because the costs involved in constant failed attempts to eliminate bed bugs in a building can literally bankrupt them after repeated tries. Keep it simple but have a plan of action before problems occur.
The IBBRA 3 Step Process – Educate * Evaluate * Initiate
Since 2010, the IBBRA has built upon these protocols and established an industry first “Three Step Program” for anyone from property owners, consumers to business owners to follow to properly address and solve their bed bug issues.
- The three steps allow them to “Educate” themselves about bed bugs, their nature and behaviors and to learn about companies and or products that can assist them.
- Secondly, they are able to “Evaluate” their overall situation and not have to combat it blindly or without the proper tools.
- Lastly, we enable them to “Initiate” a plan of action steps to utilize the best possible resources to relinquish their problem and set a preventative protocol in place for future possibilities of infestation.
Landlords, Property Managers And All Staff Must Be Fully Educated.
- Doing so will eliminate “not knowing” the facts when a suspected problem should arise.
Create A Relationship And Contract With Professional Bed Bug Experienced Pest Control Company.
- Attempting to handle a bed bug problem without professional help is like swimming against the tide. You will soon be washed right back up on shore starting all over again.
Create A Relationship And Contract With A Scent Detection Dog Company.
- These companies can find any evidence in the early stages thus causing expedient removal of bed bugs before they get a chance to spread.
- They can “pin point” the areas for treatment. More often than not when only one bed bug has hitchhiked its way back with a resident and you catch it early you don’t have to pay for treatment for the whole unit thus saving you money.
- They are often used for follow-up after treatment as well, knowing that your treatments are successful and you got them all.
Educate All Tenants
- Expecting your tenants to know what bed bugs are, the signs of or that they even exist is an assumption that you don’t want to take. And if you are expecting them to pay for treatment without having your act together you will soon notice it backfire on you.
- All tenants get trained (residing and new). Yes it is your responsibility to teach your tenants the rules of your building parking lots, garbage, mail, laundry rooms and just like anything else, bed bugs.
In order to establish a protocol for bed bugs you must evaluate all of your units and buildings first. Creating a baseline to work from helps acknowledge any problems that need to be dealt with first.
Here’s where it all comes together. Proper paperwork, training materials, policies and procedures, prevention protocols, addendums and all that is needed to keep a safe and well organized bed bug program.
Let the IBBRA and their members help you get moving in the right direction. Call on one of our members to get you set up before you have to deal with a bed bug problem. Bed bugs are NOT going away anytime soon and somewhere down the line you will need the services of a professional.
Why not do it now! Contact the IBBRA for your program www.ibbra.org 888-966-2332
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A quick look at the meaning of “Sensationalism” will find the definition [of an event, a person, or a piece of information] causing great public interest and excitement. A shocking event that’s scandalous or appalling. (In journalism) it’s the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement. The content of which is often insignificant and irrelevant relative to the macro-level day-to-day events that occur globally.
The media no longer has to sensationalize and hype up the fact that bed bugs are happening. Stories hit the news drawing attention to people or places that have experienced the bed bug drama as we continue to see more and more of it each day. What was once an article here and there is now the constant exposure of businesses, hospitals, senior care homes and housing facilities that are realizing the financial and emotional impact of bed bugs. They pull people out on the rug, point fingers and shame them. People that fall victim are finding ways to extort monies and find themselves written up in the news.
For years the concentrated presence of bed bugs was that in hotels and one certainly heard about them in the news but now they are rearing their ugly heads and destroying people’s lives in all walks of life and properties.
Six months ago I spoke to a reporter and asked that they used the talents and influence of the paper he worked with to create a weekly or by-weekly article addressing bed bugs in a way that would help cause a massive public awareness. The circulation of this particular paper is 250,724 daily and 311,982 on Sunday. Although it’s a far cry from the 300 million people in the US, can you imagine how many people would have been saved from the expense and trauma of having bed bugs had they known about them BEFORE they fell subject to them? How about if every large circulated newspaper across the nation did the same just once?
This reporter told me that they had already written an article on bed bugs and unless it was – get this “news worthy” they could not do any more.
Did you get that? News worthy!
Ya, tell that to the guy that knew nothing about bed bugs and picked them up on his recent business trip and brought them back to his family home. He reads this paper daily! If he had known to be on the lookout, his families experience and hole in his pocketbook could have been avoided…and how many others lives could it had impacted?
Tell that to the lady who bought secondhand clothing for her children at a Salvation Army store that she “thought” was safe. Tell that to the family that had visitors during the holidays and the cousin that allowed his friend to move in after being evicted from an apartment that had bed bugs.
Now I don’t know about you but I can find nothing more news worthy than bed bugs invading innocent people’s lives causing huge emotional and financial deficits in their lives. We live in an economy where people can hardly afford daily expenses and when bed bugs are thrown into the mix people can’t pay for remediation thus causing more of the spread of them.
Why is it that this story that affects every person that has blood running through their veins can’t hit the front page just once? How hard would it be to create a simple follow-up with a weekly educational formatted article that addresses bed bugs and the issues they raise to inform as many people as they could?
Ok, so the story wouldn’t be all that exciting and wouldn’t get a feather in the cap of the reporter, but how many people’s lives could it affect? Instead, people would be thanking the reporter for making a difference in their lives. He or she then would become the Hero in the eyes of many.
Now let me ask you, do you think that an article on the front page of the New York Times, Wall street Journal, Register or the Daily News would help more people know to be on the lookout so that they don’t get bed bugs? Hum, there’s some food for thought. And then a 2” X 8” article weekly helping people be more aware.
These pests are difficult to detect and control and more people deserve to know about what to do to protect themselves. Maybe when these “news worthy” touting reporters experience bed bugs themselves they then will realize the need for massive public education.
If there is just one newspaper or reporter out there that has a heart and reads this and wants to make this happen, don’t hesitate to call on us. Together, we can make a difference! www.ibbra.org
Samuel Marks just happened to notice furniture curb side one day and was “inspired”. Little did he know that what he did with this couch is exactly what needs to be done with any piece of furniture or personal belongings riddled with bed bugs that get tossed to the curb. Sadly, many people pick a perfectly good piece of furniture from the streets and take it home to introduce bed bugs to their own homes.
Recently I visited a Goodwill Store and asked to speak to the manager. I asked him what their [bed bug intake procedure] was for truckloads of furniture and bags of clothing or anything that people drop off for all that matters. He looked at me with a puzzled look and stumbled through his words as he said “we check everything that comes into the store before we put it out on the floor”. Of course I asked where they got their bed bug training from, are all employees trained and how was this done?
Another blank stare and silence came over him.
I knew the guy was lying through his teeth to me so I responded “Look, I am here to help you”.
Shopping at a second hand store is a treasure trove for many people and in many cases their staple for their life sources. Articles that cost more than many people can afford can be easily found as some else’s discards. I myself have purchased items in the past from secondhand stores for school projects when buying new just didn’t make sense.
But what happens in today’s world where people are dropping off bed bug infested items and the general public has no clue what to look for or even that they need to look for anything? These stores can easily become a cesspool of bed bugs.
Sadly enough people are bringing home their newly found treasures and a few hitchhikers as well. The reason I know this is through calls I receive on our Hotline. I often go through a process of elimination with people trying to figure out the source of their infestations. Surprisingly some say “Oh! I forgot I bought a real cute jacket for my daughter at the secondhand store!” It’s is then that I ask what they did with that item when they returned home? The answer is normally, I hung it in her closet.
Whoa! Bed bugs crawled off the item and because no one even knew about bed bugs they now are facing a cost that exceeds a month’s mortgage payment to eliminate them.
And what about those who are working at the shop that handle these items? Do they know about the possibilities of bringing home bed bugs with them? Has management taught them what to look for and what to do if they are found? Are they bringing them back to work with them?
As time marches on and more people continue to discard their bed bug infested items (and not tell anyone they have bed bugs) this is going to continue to be a significant problem and something has to be done. Not only do each of these stores and all employees have to be trained to recognize the signs of bed bugs but all clothing and items have to be pre-treated before they are placed for sale to the general public.
Can you imagine what it would take for a pest management company to treat just one of these eight to ten thousand square foot stores?
Only with a proactive and conscience intake procedure can we ever begin to protect those who shop at secondhand stores. Only through education and public awareness can we collectively help to make a difference in the spread of bed bugs for years to come. Without it they will continue to spread into our society through more than just secondhand stores and into our regular stores as well.
Consumers need to reach out to places they shop and businesses they frequent and start to ask questions to avoid the possibilities of bringing home bed bugs.
Together we can make a difference! www.ibbra.org