International bed bug week – South Africa – Johannesburg


Following the success of the first International bed bug week, Dr. Peter Whittall, our Divisional Technical Director, continues with nightly blog posts from the South Africa bed bug week lectures.

Greetings to all,

Yes – just when you thought it was safe to vacation – the bed bug blog is back. It’s the same but different (?). This time we are in the southern hemisphere travelling across the lovely African continent to South Africa. Just concluded two days in Johannesburg and at time of writing am on a plane to Cape Town – so what has your intrepid reporter been up to?

Well we have just carried on, almost seamlessly, where we left off in October and the possibilities for Bed bugs on this continent look just as big and beautiful as they did in Europe if not better! The general public is not really aware but the hoteliers are and in general do not like to broad cast the undoubted issued that they have.

Our first day was spent with Service and sales management teams (about 20 people) going through the new proactive offer and bringing them up to speed on the best reactive practices. It was the same with Mike Potter – he had some new shock horror pictures and Randolph did a great job trying showing our colleagues how important training, inspections and risk assessments are. It was great to see the South African team so engaged; what a team Gavin is running.

So today was launch day with customers. Yes Pam learned from all of the great work done in Ireland and Spain and managed a PR extravaganza. Mike Potter opened up on breakfast TV (SABC) and by lunch time had given two radio interviews with another planned this evening and two for tomorrow morning. The gist of the questioning was “why should we be worried about bed bugs – its just another of God’s little creatures so why not leave well alone?”. Well guys I am happy to report that Mike nailed it something along the lines… “if South Africa wants to allow its countryman and visitors to be prayed upon by a blood sucking parasite then I guess that is OK”. Surprisingly it was shortly after this, that the request for interviews came in pretty fast – don’t understand that but no doubt Mal will coach me on this.

The customer event went well today. We had an audience of about 40 people and yes some of them (many of them) were customers; they came predominantly from the hospitality sector with big well known brands being represented and some smaller local fine establishments. As usual the Prof worked his magic with the whole of the front row scratching before the first 5 minutes had concluded. Pam (SA Marketing Manager) did a great job putting the global epidemic into South African proportions and showed some great data on South African trends and the likely scope of impact of any epidemic on local people in the light of 20/20 cricket, the Lions Tour, and of course the 2010 world cup.

Terry did a great job on the techie bits and we ran a Q&A session for approaching an hour. People came from the view point ‘well I have never had bed bugs in my current establishment but how would you approach this hypothetical situation’? We ended up answering questions on:
• How vacuuming should not be used as a control method
• The lack of effectiveness of cold methods (especially cryonite) in establishing control
• Encasing mattresses and how to minimise the spread of infestations.
• Why the only real way to protect their business was through proactive inspection, and staff training
• Could we train housekeepers and did the resources to do this exist (yes of course they do…)
• How to dispose of infected materials.

It really was a great session and we certainly reached the dizzy heights of audience engagement we achieved in Spain and Ireland. I am told that we can expect an even more lively audience when the road show arrives in Cape Town; bring it on I say.

I think all the learning we had from the first four seminars was exploited well by the South African team. This overall model for communicating to our customers and the public is really robust, something should be used wider in our business. Something to be refined further – a bit more science and statistics on the cube treatment method.

Feedback from the sales team after the event was extremely positive with a number of customers already asking for us to come and tell them more. So on the whole not a bad days work and a great team effort.

Time for a glass of mineral water, so more tomorrow.

Cheers all

International bed bug week - South Africa - Cape Town

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