Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide greater insights into the-state-of-the-art in crisis management and aid in better response to health-related crises, with a specific focus on the hotel industry. This study extends the tourism crisis management model to include social media, concerning the role of monitoring and responding. Design/methodology/approach – This study enhances the classic 4R (readiness, reduction, response and recovery) crisis management model to include social media for hotels facing a bed bug crisis and/or other health-related crises. Findings – This paper discusses the use of social media at different phases of managing a bed bug crisis, which include risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery. Recommendations are also provided for hotel managers to combat health-related crises that are fought out on social media. Practical implications – Social media has helped to bridge the communication gap between customers and hotels. Bed bug infestations are a growing health crisis, and they have obtained increasing attention on social media sites. Without managing this crisis effectively, bed bug infestation can cause economic loss and reputational damages to hotel properties, ranging from negative comments and complaints, to possible lawsuits. Thus, it is essential for hoteliers to understand the importance of social media in crisis communication, and to incorporate social media in hotels’ crisis management plans.