Unsanitary practices in Chinese five-star hotels
A Chinese man Alert launcher revealed a series of unprofessional practices in more than 100 hotels in China. Hidden cameras have captured video footage showing hotel cleaning staff not following hygiene protocols, including actions such as using the same towel to wipe down toilets and cups.
These videos shocked viewers on Chinese social media not only because of their nastiness, but also because of the hotels involved in the scandal. The hotels we are talking about are not random motel style accommodations or cheap places. On the contrary, some names are very well known, for example Shangri-La, Hilton or Park Hyatt. The impact has been enormous and now tourist authorities in various cities are starting to investigate the matter and are planning to open investigations.
These disgusting and horrific acts are by no means acceptable, but it does make people question the reason for these actions: one might assume that the hotel staff are aware that these actions are wrong, and the management of the hotel should be too. But these incidents keep recurring. In 2017, Chinese state media CCTV discovered that 5 five-star hotels did not meet their hygiene standards. Similar to this case here in 2018, the staff at these hotels used the same brushes and tools to clean guest toilets and coffee cups.
The CCTV report provided insightful results: Obviously, hotel staff were not well paid, pressured to speed up the cleaning process as fast as possible, and were paid by a system that encouraged them to conduct these practice.
A staff member was questioned and said that she earned 12 yuan for each room she cleaned. 12 yuan is less than $ 2! Cleaning a hotel room is no easy task. From bathrooms to beds, cleaning staff have to make sure everything is in place and spotlessly clean, afraid of losing their jobs.
If you put yourself in their shoes, it’s not difficult to come to the following conclusion: the more they clean, the more they get paid. On top of that, there is little supervision over how they clean the rooms. In their mind, that’s okay until the guests see it. Since there is only a certain time, they need to clean the coins as quickly as possible to achieve maximum profit.
And so on in a vicious circle: hotels go to great lengths to reduce their operating costs. Staff are encouraged by a remuneration system that encourages them to prioritize quantity over quality. Unethical practices can be exposed and create public anger and customer disgust. When the heat has cooled and the discussion ages, everything falls back into the status quo, and nothing changes.
These hotel hygiene problems are not a new phenomenon. They keep happening. And unfortunately, little has been done to address these issues.
Government authorities can certainly impose fines on hotels for substandard hygienic practices. Perhaps hotel management can also fire their staff for not living up to company standards. Perhaps actions like these could keep customers at bay until the next scandal is exposed on the internet.
To solve the problems surrounding hotels, and more broadly, in service industries, it is essential to address the compensation that hotel staff members actually receive. The room rate system is obviously leading staff down the wrong path. It is essential that hotels change the way they pay their employees and address quality and work ethic issues. Indeed, it is the responsibility of the employees to ensure their standards. However, when employees are encouraged and motivated by factors that have a direct impact on the quality of work, staff should not be the only ones to blame.
Chinese hotel guests pay around 1,000 yuan, if not more, to stay in a luxurious hotel room for one night, but it only costs staff 12 yuan to clean it. The remaining part of the income generated goes elsewhere, perhaps it becomes retained earnings, or perhaps it is spent differently. The sad reality being that a member of the hotel staff who cleans the luxurious hotel rooms wouldn’t even be able to afford an overnight stay with a full week’s pay. This problem is simply too serious to ignore.
In developed countries, hotel workers have the opportunity to form a union and fight for their rights and compensation. Earlier in October, hotel staff from Boston Marriott’s went on strike to be treated fairly. The strike even had an impact on the 2018 World Series, with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers insisting on staying at the Marriott for their road games against the Boston Red Sox.
In a union-management bargaining model, management teams will have to donate a portion of their initial profit to reward employees for their high quality service. However, such things do not seem to be possible in modern China. What hotel employees need is a compensation system that deters them from engaging in unethical practices, whether that is negotiating with management or changing the style of staff. management of the hotel industry.
Luxury hotels in China operate like budget motels. Instead of investing more to ensure high quality services, they are doing their best to reduce costs and maximize their profits. Without proper employee representation, hotel management should be more alert and active in implementing effective changes to resolve issues and move forward.
Are Chinese hotels ready to do this? Only time will tell.
Featured photo credit in Sohu