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Bedbugs take bite of hotel business

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Bedbugs are the bane of the hotel industry, and the unblinking presence of social media has only increased the destructive power of the tiny pests.

Research from the University of Kentucky found that online reviews mentioning a bedbug infestation in a hotel room can lower the value of the room by $38 a night for business travelers and $28 a night for leisure travelers. The study was based on a survey of nearly 2,100 travelers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

When compared with other hotel room problems, such as weird odors or dirty sheets, the discovery of bedbugs was most likely to prompt a guest to switch hotels, the survey found.

With the prevalence of online hotel review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, word of a bedbug infestation can quickly spread. But the University of Kentucky study found that more than two-thirds of travelers were unable to tell the difference between a bedbug and other household insects.

That is a big problem for hotel operators, said Lynn Mohrfeld, president and CEO of the California Hotel and Lodging Association. Often, he said, hotel guests will confuse a mosquito or spider bite for a bedbug bite and post a negative review.

Mohrfeld advises hotel managers to respond to bedbug complaints by hiring professionals to inspect the room of a complaining guest. If no bugs are found, he suggests that hotel operators post the findings on the same social media site where the complaint was posted.

Airline to offer employee ‘sky spas’

With record profits to spend, the nation’s airlines may be joining Silicon Valley’s tech giants in pampering their employees with the kind of luxuries reserved for top executives.

Starting next month, Delta Air Lines will open three airport “sky spas” where employees can get discounted massages, manicures, pedicures, hairstyling, makeup treatments and uniform alterations.

The airline justifies the new luxury by saying happy employees mean happy customers. “When our employees feel great, it’s reflected in the experience they provide our customers,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service.

The first employee spa is scheduled to open next month in Salt Lake City, with locations in Atlanta and Detroit opening next year.

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Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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