Luxury hotels turn to unlikely tech to fight bedbugs
No one wants to pay ultra-luxury prices and have to think about bugs while on vacation. This is exactly why Valpas hopes to have created a better bug trap to allow guests to have a pest-free stay.
Mary Ann Ha
Valpas, a Finnish startup that helps dozens of luxury hotels fight bedbugs, tells investors it’s built a better trap in an unlikely way. It uses what is known as the Internet of Things, or connecting devices online to share relevant data and improve process efficiency.
“Valpas is a new health and safety standard for the hospitality industry, a mix of hardware, software and labels,” said Martim Gois, co-founder and CEO of Valpas. “The product is integrated into bed frames and scans the room, connecting the legs of the bed to each other and forming an IoT mesh [internet of things] network. Thanks to the network, the hotel is informed of its rooms in real time.
Founded in 2013, the company – which uses traps hidden in custom legs for beds – closed a $1.74 million (€1.6 million) funding round in February. Investor ActivumSG Ventures led the round, backed by TESI, Realty Corporation, Maki.vc, Icebreaker.vc and Reaktor. Valpas has raised a total of $2.38 million (€2.2 million) in venture capital to date.
The monetary sum is less eye-catching than its high-end clientele. The startup has signed 150 hotels under premium brands including Pestana Hotels and Resorts, Autograph collectionsand Design hotels in more than 20 European cities.
Valpas works because it’s based on science, specifically insect behavior. Bed bugs are attracted to human blood, so once they sense the constant flow of CO2 emitted in human exhalations, they move towards it. Valpas’ footboards are more attractive to critters with a specially designed collar and coating. Once the insects start crawling on the leg, they fall inside and are caught in a small cavity.
It’s also a system that works proactively, instead of the reactive response hotels use with standard pesticide treatments. In the past, hotels would realize they had bed bugs weeks after they were introduced, and by then they had an infestation – insert pest control, which is already too late. Before Valpas, there was no way to guarantee guest safety from these pests, but now hotels have the ability to assure guests they’ve handled the problem before it even becomes one. .
Not only is the typical response to pest problems retroactive, but the Valpas team quickly realized that the greenhouse gas footprint of these pesticides and the companies that supply them is more than half. of the current environmental footprint of all fossil fuel companies.
Running a Valpas member hotel allows hoteliers to effortlessly contribute to the hospitality industry’s transition to more sustainable, fossil fuel-free operations.
The installation of the product is designed so that if hoteliers wish, they can do it themselves. Existing bed legs are simply replaced with Valpas bed legs, and if the bed design has no legs, the product can easily be integrated into legless bed frames. Not only is the system fairly easy to use, but it’s also affordable, with two-star to five-star hotels all using the product for pennies a night.
A safe hotel against bed bugs?
Convenience and cost-effectiveness issues aside, one major hotel concern stands out, particularly among the more traditional and conventional hotels, when it comes to Valpas: fear of guest reaction to the label of a “bedbug free hotel”.
Although 40% of travelers have encountered bedbugs at least once, hotels’ reluctance to have a public discussion about health and safety is why many prefer not to do anything about it.
“It’s such a nightmarish experience, nobody wants to talk about it,” Gois said. “But in the end, it remains a concern and a fundamental minimum in the hotel industry. What we can share is the incredible customer feedback that our existing member hotels have experienced and the increased demand for reservations that Valpas has brought.
Valpas member hotels achieved an average rating of 9.0 on Booking.com and increased guest satisfaction levels by up to 35%. And despite being a ‘pest control’ product hoteliers generally fear to use, Valpas has been successful in attracting luxury hospitality across Europe.
“Today, ‘luxury’ is something that is constantly changing and can mean a lot of things to different people,” Gois said. “Luxury hotels are essentially leaders, looking to differentiate themselves from their peers, to deliver the next big thing for travelers. That’s the next thing.
Hoteliers are not only attracted to the sustainable and innovative nature of Valpas’ product, but it also increases their confidence in guest comfort, which, in turn, will reduce the need for room closures and the risk of exposure. brand negative. The Valpas label is quickly transforming into an endorsement of the standard, helping luxury hotels meet the overall quality that people normally expect from ‘luxury’.
“The company’s mission is to enable every traveler to enjoy the living world with confidence. We hope to dedicate this funding to the company’s goal of expanding into new geographies such as the Far East and the United States. »
[UPDATE: Details on the Valpas funding round were added after publication.]