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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Vacationing Over the Holidays (AKA: Is family a pest?)

I’m headed out for the winter holidays. I’m spending a couple of weeks in a condo and hoping to get a little relaxation and downtime. So are a lot of people. With travel being impacted by Covid, many people changed their travel plans. At the beginning of the pandemic, vacation rentals were down by 30% but by December of last year were up almost 60%! While 2021 statistics aren’t complete yet, the estimate is that vacation rentals will reach $13.3 billion.

This means more people are renting and staying in vacation rental properties. From a pest control standpoint, there are many things to consider.

Bed bugs. Yep, despite the reduction in travel at the start of the pandemic with lockdowns in effect and restrictions, bed bugs did not go away. Hotels and larger establishments may have seen a reduction (guests weren’t transferring them around), but rentals have seen more people, and therefore bed bugs. While 2021 statistics aren’t complete, most professionals I talk to have said their bed bug revenue has stayed steady or increased.

  • If you are a PMP – vacation rentals are still having issues with bed bugs. Talk with your customers about setting up proactive inspections and let them know you are prepared to react quickly when issues are found.

  • If you are a property owner or management company – know what a bed bug looks like (seriously, most people don’t!). Don’t try to DIY, call in a professional for a quick resolution. Bed bugs are getting quite litigious and the bad reputation can potentially affect your sales for years.

Cockroaches. No matter how good people are, these rentals are not their home and they won’t take as good care of them as they do their own home. Kitchen messes, leftover food, old trash, and more will lead to cockroach problems. Because of the pandemic, more people are eating in instead of going out to restaurants. The restaurant industry saw a 17% jump in 2020 and that is expected to be similar in 2021. That means more food in the vacation rental property than pre-Covid. More food means more sanitation issues and more trash. All of that is an open buffet for cockroaches.

  • PMP’s – While we tend to stay away from “routine” sprays, in sites where cockroaches have been an issue or have a high risk of cockroach activity, it would be good to do proactive baiting. Target areas where food is stored and consumed and where sanitation issues may develop. Monitors are always helpful!

  • Owners/managers – since properties are cleaned after each guest, make sure the cleaning teams know to check certain high risk areas. This may mean pulling out appliances, deep cleaning trash bins, and getting to the backs and bottoms of pantries and cabinets.

Rodents. The pandemic affected rodents, and not to our advantage. As urban areas shut down and restaurants, hotels, convention centers, and other areas closed, rodents’ food sources dried up. So what’s a hungry rodent to do? Move! Specifically to the suburban and rural areas where people were. And where people are, food and shelter is too. With people vacationing in rental properties, rodents were more than happy to utilize the food sources they were providing. Since those properties can also sit vacant for a bit between visits, rodents also had a safe home to use for days, weeks, even months. (Remind me to tell you the story of when a squirrel got into my parent's home when they had been gone for two weeks!)

  • PMP’s – As always with rodents, exclusion is key. Make sure your inspection points out the places rodents can get in and provide that documentation to your customer. Look for key places to put traps inside where renters will not see it. Personally, I like these since they are in a station, easy to conceal, and quick to visually check.

  • Owners/managers – It’s important to seal openings well. Do NOT use foam, rodents will chew through it. It’s usually worth it to use high quality products that are a bit more expensive. Otherwise, you will be replacing them every time a rodent gnaws through them. Which will be often.

These are just my top three most common vacation rental pests. There are so many more that could potentially affect the property and therefore its income stream. So next time you are out inspecting a rental property, or maybe you are vacationing in a rental, think about all the pest problems that you might run into. Preventing pest problems and being proactive with a quick response will keep the property ready for the next guest and ready for all the great online reviews it deserves. If you need help with pest issues on rentals or any other hospitality property, we can help with that. Contact us here!

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