Britain’s bed bug scare: Only 4% would go ahead with a trip as planned in the event of an outbreak
December 5th, 2023, Clifton Mark

Britain’s bed bug scare: Only 4% would go ahead with a trip as planned in the event of an outbreak

It seems like Britain is brimming with bed bugs. Headlines about outbreaks in private residences, on the tube and even at the library have overrun the news in 2023.

Hospitality businesses have reason to be especially worried about the pests, which can lead to pruritic patrons and profit-punishing publicity. This is probably why hotels are enlisting allies from computers to canines to combat the crisis.

But how worried are Britons about bedbugs? How will they respond to news of an outbreak? And what do they expect management to do when they find bedbugs in their accommodation?

How worried are Britons about bed bugs? 

Among Britons who plan on staying in tourist accommodations in the UK in the next 12 months, most are unconcerned with the possibility of encountering bed bugs. Only one in four (25.9%) say they’re fairly or very worried about bedbugs at their next stay.

Of course, nervousness is not evenly distributed among tourists. Consumers under 35 years old (30.7%) and women (30.6%) are more worried than the national average.

Bed bug news means business blues

It’s no surprise that news of infestation can put off potential customers. Most Britons (60.5%) say that they would find alternative accommodation if they heard of a recent outbreak where they were planning on staying. Another 8.0% would cancel their trip altogether.

Only 4.4% of respondents say they would go ahead with the trip as planned, while another 20.6% say they would proceed, but take extra precautions such as inspecting their rooms carefully and disinfecting belongings when they return home.

Whether or not customers are worried about finding bed bugs on their next trip, they won’t be happy if they do. Most consumers (71.5%) would complain to management and about half would ask for a refund (53.8%) and/or leave the accommodation (47.9%). About a third (35.6%) would never book with the accommodation again.

This could also lead to bad publicity, with 31.6% saying they would leave a bad review and another 14.6% would publicize the incident on social media or in the press. A small but significant minority (12.8%) say they would sue for compensation if they found bugs in their rented beds.

Customers who discover bugs expect to be compensated

Faced with unhappy customers, what should hospitality managers do when their guests discover bed bugs? Most customers (59.1%) expect their hosts to offer alternative accommodations free of charge, and nearly half (46.5%) expect to be paid compensation.

Simply offering a refund would only meet the expectations of 35.8% of consumers. Virtually nobody expects the accommodations to do nothing about the problem.

Despite a year of itch-provoking headlines, most Britons are not worried about finding bed bugs in their accommodations. However, if they do, they expect to be properly compensated for the unpleasant experience.

Explore our living data – for free

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today. 

Discover more travel and tourism content here

Want to run your own research? Run a survey now

YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online in November 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2092 adults in Great Britain using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade and to be representative of all adults in UK (18 years or older) and reflect the latest ONS population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.