Hotels in China have faced a public relations nightmare after accusations of unsanitary cleaning practices at international luxury accommodations around the country. And while hotel chains have issued apologies, they may still need help cleaning up their image.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) is calling for greater oversight regarding hotel hygiene practices across the country following a recent scandal involving an undercover investigation by Chinese activist blogger Huazong. To ensure that hotels are meeting hygiene standards, the MCT is urging local governments to more strenuously inspect hotels. The ministry has also opted to send inspection teams to make sure that hotels are properly cleaning rooms.
After a video last month revealing hotel staff engaging in unsanitary cleaning practices went viral, the Chinese government has vowed to step up enforcement of hygiene standards
Moreover, it’s not just luxury hotels that are engaging in these kinds of unhygienic practices. iTouchTV launched its own investigation of budget hotels, including Home Inn, Super 8, 7 Days Inn, and JinJiang Inn. The station found that 40 percent of hotels investigated had unsafe levels of dangerous bacteria like e-coli and Staphylococcus.
The MCT’s plan stems from Huazong’s hidden camera footage that he claims is taken from around 2,000 nights spent at luxury hotels across China, including Hilton, Park Hyatt, Marriott, Bvlgari, Conrad, The Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, and Shangri-La. Given the large number of hotels investigated, it’s hard to dismiss the accusation as merely a few outlier incidents. Fines were levied on some hotels, while others are currently under stricter supervision by authorities, though there are no details as to what the supervision entails.
The hygiene scandal could cause major damage to hotel brands operating in China, and lead consumers to call into question the quality of these establishments
These scandals have shaken confidence among Chinese consumers about the quality of accommodations in China, regardless of whether or not a hotel carries a “luxury” label, with some Chinese-language media noting that the practices may be more widespread with overworked low-wage employees being a contributing factor to the standards in place. However, the damage could be much more pronounced for international luxury hotel brands. It could be simply a problem with standards at Chinese locations of these hotels. Regardless, the perceived quality of these hotel brands, no matter in what destination, will be damaged. Some tourists will understandably be more wary at staying at hotels that carry a reputation of unsanitary, or arguably unsafe, cleaning practices.
Hotel chains hope more robust inspections can rebuild consumer confidence in hotels in China as travelers expect adequately cleaned rooms.
Despite the apologies issued by some hotels, it may prudent for them to expand outreach for the time being to boost consumer confidence in their brands. This holds especially true for travelers that have stayed at these locations in the past.