Airbnb, the online home-sharing service, is in serious danger.  The threat is bed bugs.  Users have been afflicted with bites, welts and rashes while sleeping in rooms let through the company. If Airbnb can’t control the spread of the creature, it will lose its customer base.  The challenge is that the company does not have direct control over lodging.  It can give advice to homeowners or drop them from its service.  Meanwhile, the burden of controlling an outbreak belongs to the owner who might never have had an issue until renting through Airbnb.  It is expensive to get rid of them and the homeowner bears the initial cost with a make-good from Airbnb.  The ongoing challenge for the company is that bedbugs have been around for tens of thousands of years, and they are not going away even with strong efforts at extermination.  The company must be vigilant and fast-acting when receiving reports of infestations.  It is an essential cost of doing business.

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