China hotels are using microchips to step up the hygiene game

With this technology, bed bugs will be the least of your problems. Source: Shutterstock

LATE last year, a video exposing unhygienic cleaning practices in a handful of five-star establishments in China went viral online.

The 11-minute clip showed how some cleaners at upmarket hotels were using the same towel to clean a bathroom mirror, basin, toilet and drinking cups.

It quickly racked up tens of millions of views, causing an uproar and forcing establishments such as The Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai, the Conrad in Beijing, The Peninsula in Beijing, and the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai to issue apologies.

Bulgari Hotel Shanghai, which is run by Marriott International Inc., apologized in a statement posted on Weibo saying it will investigate and take appropriate action. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which said it would strengthen room-check rules and work with the government to respond.

China has long been criticized for its overall lack of hygiene and it is no secret that there have been many warnings to unsuspecting travelers, especially with regards to using its toilets. In 2015, the East Asian country launched a toilet revolution nationwide to make public toilets cleaner and more regulated in an effort to boost tourism.

However, one would have never guessed that the lack of hygiene would affect luxury hotels as well, for which guests have doled out a high dollar for. Safe to say, the expose has pushed Chinese hotels to roll out a new microchipping service which tracks every sheet and towel, to earn back the confidence of its guests.

Source: Shutterstock

According to South China Morning Post, a laundry service catering to hotels in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has started installing wafer-thin microchips on bedsheets, pillow covers, and towels. News of the technology has become an online hit following the series of scandals over poor hygiene at high-end hotels.

On social media, people broadly welcomed the Wuhan laundry’s move with many calling for the system to be rolled out nationwide. “This system needs to be implemented throughout the country,” wrote one user on China’s Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo.

The microchips not only allow the hotel management to track each individual item but also allow travelers to scan a QR code on each item and check precisely when it was last washed.

While some Weibo users are skeptical, saying the QR code could be easily damaged or the chip tampered with, Beijing-based Bluesky TRS, the company that developed the technology, said that the chips can withstand temperatures of up to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) and be washed 200 times.