Every International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show has a theme. One year, it was flat-screen TVs. Another year it was upgraded bedding. Clearly, the theme of this year's show, which was held last week in New York, was the bed bug. I counted at least 10 booths offering solutions to this growing operational, legal and image problem facing the industry.
Unfortunately, a few of the exhibitors seemed to be hucksters, offering minimally useful solutions to a serious, and potentially costly, issue. Some of these flim-flam men and women I visited seemed to have no clue to the biology of these pests, let alone how to protect against them or eradicate them once they show up. You won't find any mention of these products on the pages of Lodging Hospitality or this website.
Several products I saw hit the mark, either as a way to prevent bed bug infestations—Protect A Bed is a good example—or to rid hotel rooms of the pests once they strike. Steritech fit into the latter category with a unique solution in which the company's technicians take an infested guestroom, move the ff&e to the center, envelope the goods in a portable enclosure and then attack the bugs with one of their few enemies: high heat. These weren't the only two companies showing promising solutions to the problem, but the lesson is to pay close attention to company sales pitches before choosing vendors to help you.
It was somewhat ironic and fitting that the focus of a hotel show in New York City was bed bugs. While many of the city's hotels in all price categories have had troubles with the pests, the problem isn't unique to New York or other gateway cities. Bed bugs are bugging guests and hoteliers in hotels of all sizes and price levels in all markets. Yet the media spotlight—as it often is, both good and bad—shines brightest in New York, and many of the consumer media stories on the topic seem to point to the Big Apple as the epicenter of the problem.