Hotel housekeeping staff offered $25 bounty per head on bed bugs

by nobugsonme on April 4, 2008

in bed bugs, bed bugs in hotels

The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Tropicana has offered staff $25 for each live bed bug they find and capture.

The owners of the embattled Tropicana hotel have placed a bounty on bedbugs, offering housekeepers $25 a pop for each one brought in alive.

The offer was posted in the hotel’s housekeeping offices, raising eyebrows among workers wondering whether they should pull out magnifying glasses while changing sheets.

“Don’t forget to check for bedbugs!” one flier exclaims in English and Spanish. “Check every room — every day.” The posting features enlarged images of the minuscule bloodsucking menaces.

The union suggests staff need training in how to find bed bugs, but the management say their pest control firm Ecolab already provides such training to housekeeping staff. The hotel denied there was a bed bug “problem:”

The Sun’s inquiries to Tropicana parent company Columbia Sussex drew a stiff rebuke, including the implied threat of a lawsuit.

“There isn’t a problem. Period,” spokesman Hud Englehart said in a statement.

The incentive program is part of what the Tropicana calls its “Five Star Awards” program, he said, and is intended simply to keep housekeepers on the lookout for potential problems.

“No hotel is immune from (bedbugs) and every hotel takes precautions to ensure that incidents are detected so that infestations are prevented,” Englehart said. “We are no different.”

It is true that bed bugs are a possibility in any hotel, anywhere.

So far, no Tropicana housekeepers have cashed in on a bed bug:

Despite the incentive program, no live bedbugs have been brought in for cash redemption, Englehart noted. (Nor, apparently, has anyone brought in bedbugs from outside sources to see whether they could game the system.)

Gregg Wears, supervisor for the Las Vegas Strip office of the Southern Nevada Health District, said the Tropicana gets an average number of bedbug complaints, but wouldn’t elaborate. The health agency receives two or three such complaints districtwide a week, and complaints are more frequent in residential properties, he said.

I am glad hotels are training housekeeping staff to look for bed bugs, and glad they are getting some kind of incentive to look.

However, staff need careful training and I hope they are getting it.  It needs to go beyond photos of bed bugs; they need to know how to look.

And they also need more time to do such inspections, and cannot be expected to get through as many rooms as they did in the past when they were only charged with cleaning tasks.

Finally, hotels should find ways to combine this incentive program with other detection methods: bed bug dog walk-throughs and careful PCO inspections should be considered.

Housekeepers eyeballing the bed can help but bed bugs are designed and programmed to hide by daylight, and so staff are unlikely to detect bed bugs with a cursory inspection unless cases are quite serious.


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