Bed Bugs Can Be Found Anywhere: Is Your Hotel Protected?

By Christopher Bolger Senior Risk Manager, Venture Insurance Programs | May 31, 2015

When a family checked into a venerable New York City hotel a few years ago, they didn’t expect to encounter bed bugs. But even this hotel, whose rooms start upwards of $300 a night, wasn’t immune to the pests.

The family complained to management about bed bug bites during their stay and continued getting bitten even after management moved them to a suite. The family maintained in their subsequent lawsuit against the hotel that they inadvertently brought bed bugs home with them in their luggage, and they had to vacate their home for six weeks while the pests were exterminated.

Many bed bug lawsuits are settled for undisclosed sums and don’t make headlines. But the combination of economic and non-economic damages can result in five- and six-figure settlement amounts.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) feed on humans and warm-blooded animals and are spread by travelers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attributes the resurgence of bed bugs over the last decade to increased domestic and international travel, lack of knowledge about how to prevent infestations and ineffective pest control practices due in part to bed bugs’ increased resistance to pesticides.

Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease but are considered a “public health pest” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Their bites raise itchy welts that are painful but not dangerous, according to the agencies, although some people do have allergic reactions to the bites.

However, a persistent belief about bed bugs is that they thrive only in dirty conditions. This is false. “Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide,” says the EPA.

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Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.