Post-mortem on 2011 North American Bed Bug Summit

by nobugsonme on October 6, 2011 · 8 comments

in bed bugs

Those who attended the 2011 North American Bed Bug Summit hosted by Bed Bug Central in Chicago  last week have been sharing their impressions in this Forum thread entitled “Chicago 2011”.

A forum user going by the name of “Patrick,” Sean Rollo, and Jeff White are among those sharing their helpful impressions and details of some of the research shared in the conference (which is the second such annual event) in the same thread.

Now David Cain has published a highly critical review of the event — and by extension, of the US bed bug industry as a whole — in the industry magazine Pest, entitled “In Bed Bugs We Trust, Inc.”

David assessed the conference as follows:

Although I am sure there is need for a global bed bug focused meeting, I am no longer convinced that this is the format that it should take and will certainly be encouraging an event independent of the supply chain. An event where speakers are not given a stage to promote their own inventions and where products are discussed based on their efficacy and merits, rather than who gets a kickback on global sales.

If you attended the event, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts in the forums (which requires a login) or below (which doesn’t).




1 laststrawsue October 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm

David Cain’s hinting reference to capitalism gone astray in the bed bug eradication industry, coupled with the fact there’s a Terminix ad on this page I’m viewing right now… brings me to point out something that was said that made me think.
Last week when the Terminix inspector (ie: sales rep?) came to my apartment building, he said, and I quote, “When your building is burning down, you call the fire department, when your building has a pest infestation, you call the exterminator.”

I now see a huge problem with that metaphor/comparison comment.
When your building is on fire, you call the fire department and they douse the flames as best they can. You can be the landlord, or the tenant, or a neighbor, or a passerby – you call the fire dept, they come & douse the flames.
When your building has an infestation of bed bugs, you have to pay possibly thousands up front to an exterminator to even begin to have the problem taken care of – and as a tenant – you can’t even do that on your own (without landlord involvement or at least permission).
It’s not comparable at all, and in my opinion, a rather stupid thing for an exterminator sales rep to say to a tenant living in an infested bldg.
Am I suggesting that pest control be socialized or volunteer funded like fire depts? We don’t even have socialized medical care in the U.S., because, apparently, most people (voters) believe matters of life & death (health care) should be decided upon capitalist principles of those who can afford to pay get the best medical care.
So I think anyone suggesting that poor people have the right to bed bug eradication they can’t afford via government tax subsidized pest control, would surely be labeled the most lunatic left-wing communist radical.
But here’s the thing, even privatized fire departments in the U.S. are publicly funded. In other words, you don’t have to pay up front when the private firefighters arrive – you’ve already paid for their services in your taxes. (So it’s not truly privatized fire dept.)
So the point is, that this comparison between calling a fire dept & calling an exterminator, is hugely flawed.
And I’m wise enough to know that no one but someone who’s suffered bed bugs is going to see any sense in paying taxes for protection, extermination, & eradication.
And living the bed bug nightmare, I realize that people with a bed bug infestation are generally stressed & living in a harrowing desperate situation, so the target market for bed bug services is incredibly ripe & vulnerable for taking advantage of for profit.

2 bedbugsuptown October 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I think BB industry exploitn’ sharks have a special reservation in hell – and it ain’t in
the bed…. yeah you got it, it’s in the kitchen.

3 Sam Bryks October 7, 2011 at 1:43 am

I just read the most useful post by Patrick outlining some of the material from the Bed Bug Central “bed bug university” summit in Chicago.. Great stuff.. Well written!!! much appreciated..
I also read David Cain’s article on this event. I was at the first one last year and it was most interesting, but I agree with David about the over-done commercial focus. Last year we had to hear exhibitors give their product promos between sessions. I, for one, found this to be irritating as I could get my fill in the exhibitor hall and had the choice of listening or attending at a booth rather than having to listen to an overly long sales pitch that was one of the attractions for exhibitors. If an exhibitor sponsors some aspect then the fact that they did it as a gesture for attendees should be sufficient.
This is a huge event, and with a few hundred attendees with a substantial registration fee, and the exhibitors fees, attendees should be spared these commercial presentations.
The EPA Bed Bug Summit was much more focused I thought with many of the same speakers in attendance and with little commercial exposure though some of the 25b promoters were there but even they could not push their products much.
Getting the information out is key..
again, thanks to the postings in the forum on details.. lots of interesting information.

4 Tyler LeCompte October 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

As a bed bug solution provider and product salesperson I can say that I both agree and disagree with David Cain’s editorial about the recent 2011 Chicago Bed Bug Summit presented by Bed Bug Central, and the subsequent comments above mine and in the BedBugger forums. (Disclosure: I/BBFS did not attend or exhibit during this event, so opinion of professional outsider here…). From a business perspective, there are hundreds of companies currently trying to develop a range of products that help to monitor, identify, eliminate/eradicate, protect and prevent these resilient pests; and we need to have the attention and support of the scientific community and general public to produce the most effective, convenient and affordable solutions in a timely manner.

Trade Shows/Summits such as Chicago Summit 2011, the upcoming NPMA PestWorld in New Orleans, or the 2011 New York Pest Expo on 11/11/11 in Manhattan; should be a healthy mix of both valuable research, open dialogue/communication between presenters and attendees, and a wide range of hands-on introductions to the newest/brightest and most trusted products/solutions/treatment options. This insures that event planners are covered for the cost of the event, the attendees have a large % of the event costs covered by trade show exhibitors, who in turn understand they have bought a pre-determined amount of time with potential customers/partners.

I have supported, and presented, at optional course tracks within these events where attendees could elect to sit through a product/treatment “roundup” where each exhibitor had 10 minutes to present their service (ours being Vikane Fumigation) and then event planners identified all exhibitors that offered that particular service as well (we had three others exhibiting, but we got asked to speak). Roundups were well attended and received in my opinion, but left others to pursue what they wanted from other sessions/shows. We have also hosted 2 hour “happy hours” at local location(s) the day after an event to allow more direct communication without disrupting trade show attendance.

I am hoping that more direct research is released/introduced at the Pest World or NYPE as it seems that most people weren’t overly impressed with amount for the Summit. Thanks, BBFS

5 Micah Nix October 8, 2011 at 12:26 am

Well said, Gentleman. I truly feel that David Cane is on the right track. More good dignified research needs to be done before we have new information to present. Limit the vendors to an area that you can approach only if interested in the new products. These gatherings need to be more about Bed bug trends, research and how pest companies are responding. Open forums with qualified individuals to actually share information rather than simply pass along old data. I did not attend this time, for I had a sinking suspicion that it would be all product marketing, product placement and patent arguments rather than what it should be, an educational ‘Think Tank” experience that leaves the attendees quite happy that they learned something for their money.
Looking at it from a business standpoint, We understand that the organizers can’t pay for the venue without the vendors, So these types of meetings and symposiums seem to be in a catch 22.
It’s time for a new type of gathering, one where anyone with good treatment experience or a PHD that researches Bed bugs actually spends some time to put forth their best work and show a glimpse of the future of the industry that effects so many.
As Tyler said, The NPMA gathering in New Orleans should be a healthy mix. Lets see how it goes, I am just a little depressed that very little changes the industry at these symposiums, but yet we pay for them as though we will learn some new information that will change how we do our Pest Management jobs.
NPMA it’s time to shine in New Orleans, The Philadelphia Canine Symposium was extremely helpful to many that I interviewed. The lineup of speakers were great and all informed with some great data that made the attendees rethink their programs and training records. NPMA Good Job on that one! Now do it again in New Orleans.
Education is our best Weapon. Let’s Educate at these conferences rather than it be a sales meeting to move products.

Micah Nix
National Bed Bug Association

6 bedbugresource October 8, 2011 at 7:22 am

I am not an organizer of this event, nor am I in any way affiliated with Bed Bug Central. In fact, I work for a competitor.

I was however a speaker at the conference and attended the sessions.

1) There were no advertorials (sales pitches) during the conference presentations this year.

2) The vendors on the trade floor are NOT selected. If a company wants to exhibit and they submit their info and money then they MUST be accepted, irregardless of what the organizers think of their products. This is all part of Fair Business Practices. There was not one speaker that did not openly state during their presentations that the Exhibit Hall is full of products; some proven, others new … do your homework and ask the tough questions (i.e. show me the data) before buying in to the marketing.

3) A conference of this magnitude and diversity of speakers from all over the world costs a lot of money to put on. That money has to come from somewhere … (exhibitors, sponsors, and registration fees).

4) New content … It is IMPOSSIBLE to host a conference with entirely new content. At least half of your audience is likely to be first timers (this is due to turnover in all industries attending). You need to present the basic building blocks (biology, products available, treatment options, legal, etc.). In my estimation I saw about 30% new info and new presentations at this conference over last year; and some of it cutting edge.

If you are looking for strictly research presentations which will give you the newest of the new then you need to attend the ESA and Urban Ent. conferences. This is where entomologists/scientists present the findings of their research. Bed Bug Central has NEVER claimed that this was what their conference is or will be about. The program is published well before you need to pay for registration … clearly looking through it gives you a general feel for what to expect.

How many of you attend the NPMA conference every year (this is the best of the best)? Are you really learning earth shattering new facts about cockroaches, termites, rats, and mice each year? Nope … You are there for the experience and for the few tidbits of new info that you will glean.

I have never been to a pest control conference and not learned something new. Whether this is from the presenters, exhibitors, or from an attendee at the bar over a beer ….


7 David Cain October 9, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hi Sean,

Thanks for your comments, yours was actually one of the better presentations as it highlighted some interesting points from around the world and why bedbugs are a common enemy but also why there are different regional issues that also need to be faced.

However I cant agree about the advertorials when one of the speakers failed to disclose his association with the product while presented what was claimed to be unbiased results indicating why one product worked better than others.

If you stood on stage and promoted intellectual property developed by your organisation without a declaration I would make the same call of shenanigans because that is what it was. I will be making enquirers as to how those papers passed peer review without that declaration, if the data stands up there is no reason not to make the declarartion.

It is rapidly approaching the time when consumers will quite rightly be asking why after many years of focus the pest control industry has still not gotten a grip on bedbugs. Part of this is because they are a complex pest but I am sure the media will have a field day with some of the conflicts of interest which have been allowed to develop.

Last night I decided to drop out of the NPMA meeting as I don’t think it will add value to my work but I will try to attend the EPA meeting and the ESA session in 2012.

Sadly I suspect another year will pass before the industry rises to the challenge of presenting itself as a consumer supporting industry where products and processes are tested independent of the supply and service chain as it should be for due diligence and clarity.

I can promise you it will not be more than a few weeks before we drop the next bomb shell illustrating the promotion of a fraudulent service offering. This is not my role within the industry to do but since others are too busy with their fingers in the cookie jar I have taken it upon myself.


8 nobugsonme October 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

This conversation continues in this Forums thread.

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