Hotels deal with repercussions after hygiene scandal in China

Global Business

China has over 800 five star hotels as of last year. However, a major sanitation scandal across some luxury hotels has left people wondering: are they getting their money’s worth? CGTN’s Yang Chengxi reports on what hotels are doing to fix this stigma. 

Zhang Jiazheng works for a multinational company and goes on business trips at least twice a month. As he was heading to his five-star hotel in Shanghai, he was still bothered by the news last week: luxury hotel staff caught on video using dirty guest towels to clean cups and toilet seats. Many of the 14 hotels involved have issued apologies. But according to those who exposed the footage, that’s not enough.

“It easy for them to treat this as only a short-term PR scandal. Any hotel can be vigilant and get good scores during an inspection period. But that’s not the result we want,” said Mr. Wu, who is the whistleblower of the scandal.

The problem is that even though many hotels have made promises to rectify their wrongdoing, there is really no way for guests to tell whether their towels are now truly fresh.

That’s why many travelers are taking steps to avoid this. Last week, sales of handkerchiefs, portable water boilers, and disposable bed sheets skyrocketed on various e-commerce websites. NYU Shanghai business practice professor Rodrigo Zeidan said public distrust over luxury hotels remains high.

“Usually businesses are very reactive. Management doesn’t have the proper incentives to make sure that the quality of the service is that high,” Zeidan said.

He said this is a typical phenomenon across many businesses worldwide: as cheating becomes an industry norm, any company that does not conform would find themselves at an economic disadvantage.

“There is a correlation between good risk management and cost. Good risk management costs money. If the pressure for the industry is to cut costs at all possible times, every single time, then this kind of situation will be persistent,” said Rodrigo Zeidan.

But part of the reason many people are still shocked is that they didn’t expect that such problems at five-star luxury hotels.

“Especially in a five-star hotel in which revenues are high because they can charge more, they cannot be driven solely by cost-cutting behavior,” Zeidan said.

Chinese regulators have announced random inspections on these hotels and intend to publish their results. Experts hope setting the bar higher for hotels motivates them to more closely follow the rules.

Jason Burnett discusses the hygiene issues of the hotel industry

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Jason Burnett, technical director of Check Safety First, about the hygiene issue of the hotel industry.