Bedbugs are every hotel’s nightmare. They leave behind itchy bites and dissatisfied hotel guests. What can be done about that? Clean even more? If only it were that simple. The situation is more complex and hygiene is not the decisive factor basically. Valpas facilitates hotel operations without bedbugs and thus carefree travelling. The Finnish start-up has created a unique solution to achieve this objective.
Bedbugs: Increased travelling aggravates the problem
Bedbugs like travelling and may cause immense damage to the reputation and budget of a hotel. In the event of an infestation, costs are incurred for combating the infestation as well as for the rehousing of the guests or paying them compensation. In addition, the traveller’s holiday pleasure is spoiled. Itching everywhere and the fear of spreading the little beasts is ever-present. Thomas Loose, board member at the Deutscher Schädlingsbekämpfer-Verband e.V. (DSV) (German association of pest controllers) and owner of the Jena company Pestcontrol, says: “You can pick up bedbugs or bring them with you from virtually anywhere.” It does not matter whether you are staying at a hostel or a five-star hotel.
Is the problem due to lack of hygiene?
Many people associate bedbugs with insufficient hygiene. The logical conclusion: If I stay in a luxury hotel, I am protected. However, this is not the case. “In principle, an infestation of bedbugs is not linked to the hygiene conditions in a building, but rather the bedbugs are usually brought in by well-travelled guests”, explains Stefanie Heckel, spokesperson at Hotelverband Deutschland (IHA) (German Hotel Association). The biocide portal of the Umweltbundesamt (German Federal Environmental Agency) supports the statement and holds, among other things, “the increasing travel activity as well as the worldwide trade in second-hand goods” responsible.
The final step is the fight against the pest: Can it be done without?
It can, however, be said that hygiene plays a part if a bedbug infestation is not detected in time. In a hotel with a high standard of hygiene, the staff presumably detects an infestation faster than untrained staff at a small hostel. Then it’s time to get in the pest controller. In upscale hotels, ”mostly certified pest controllers are under contract, who carry out inspections and control measures if necessary”, according to pest controller Thomas Loose. But why does it have to come to this? Isn’t there a solution that can be applied before the infestation?
Valpas provides unprecedented protection against bedbugs
Finnish company Valpas has set itself the goal to rid hotels of bedbugs and thus facilitate travellers to enjoy carefree travel. Co-founder Martim Gois is familiar with the nightmare from personal experience. He was subjected to bedbugs on one of his trips. He saw how helpless the hotels were and realised that pest control and the use of pesticides could only be a temporary solution. Valpas was established in 2017. After two years of investment in research and development, the technology was ready for the market in 2019 and has so far been unique on the market. The solution provided by Valpas enables travel agencies, hotels, as well as booking platforms to guarantee their customers a stay without bedbugs. “Valpas is to bedbugs what vaccinations, masks, and social distancing are to Covid”, says Martim Gois, Co-founder and CEO of Valpas.
Acts before the problem arises
The new Valpas standard is simple to install within 24 hours and ensures permanent safety for the hotel and its guests. In addition, each room can be retrofitted at any time within a few minutes. The procedure: The hotel exchanges the existing bed legs with the legs designed by Valpas. These are connected to the Valpas app on the smartphone. The technology can also be integrated in bed constructions without legs. The IoT-able bed legs have a patented design. Bedbugs are caught within a few hours after their arrival when they are still small. Sensors in the legs use the Wirepas Mesh network and send a message to the app. The staff can thus act promptly and dispose of the cassette with the bedbugs within just a few minutes.
Finnish cooperation rounds off the technology
With its Finnish “neighbour” Wirepas, Valpas has found the ideal addition to its hardware. “The connectivity software of Wirepas enables us to replace our bedbug trap with the app”, says Martim Gois. He adds: “We also appreciate that Wirepas is working at all times effectively and reliably, and above all, with long battery life, independent of the hotel.” Thanks to the large scalability of Wirepas Mesh, each hotel can fit the bed legs with their own staff without the need to install additional infrastructure in the guest areas for this purpose. Due to the fact that the technology starts to operate before the bedbug has a chance to become active, rooms do not need to be closed down, the hotel brand is not tarnished, and it is no longer necessary to use pesticides and measures to combat pests. The result: The savings in time, money, stress as well as environmental impact, and in turn a gain in customer satisfaction for hotels as well as protection of travellers in general.
Valpas standard protects travellers and the planet
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demands radical emissions reductions. The Valpas standard renders the use of pesticides in hotels unnecessary. Therefore, they can make a valuable contribution to the solution of the climate crisis. By guaranteeing the protection against bedbugs in the hotel, less animals are spread. This results in the reduced use of pesticides also in private households. “Pest control has relied on the destruction of pests and pesticides for too long. With its IoT-based product, Valpas is developing the next generation of safety and hygiene tools, which don’t let the problem arise in the first place. We are pleased that we are able to support Martim and the team in the development of this new hygiene standard in the hospitality industry”, says Natalie Somekh, Partner at ActivumSG Ventures.
Expansion for worldwide protection against bedbugs
Since the introduction of the first version of the product, Valpas has contracted more than 150 European hotelsbelonging to brands such as ARP Hansen Hotel Group, Pestana Hotels and Resorts, or Autograph Collections. A new funding of Euro 1.6 million, including investors such as ActivumSG Ventures, will allow the start-up to expand to new regions such as Japan and the USA. Travellers can identify safe hotels with the Valpas standard by a seal on the hotel website and on travel platforms. In part, there are filters for Valpas.