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I have got Santa Claus on my mind. My son, who turned four in August, has me twisted in knots trying to explain why there are so many Santa Claus look-alikes walking around. When I posed the idea that they were “Santa’s helpers,” he was skeptical. He is a smart kid; he knows Santa’s real helpers are the elves. It is only a matter of time before he figures out the real truth. Arrrgh. Santa also came to mind this past week as I was trying to explain “the chimney effect” in my article about open vents at the top of elevator shafts. I was inspired to write the article by a report entitled, “Spending Through the Roof.” It was prepared by Urban Green Council for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Buildings of at least 10 stories in height have the most potential to suffer from the chimney effect. if rooftop vents are left open at the top of elevator shafts.
One of my biggest challenges over the years has been selling advertising to companies that supply guestroom energy management systems (EMS). I often wonder why that is. Is it that these systems are still a difficult sell and nobody has marketing dollars to spare? Or, is it just a reflection of the overall instability in this niche in our industry. Allow me to give you a few examples. I won’t embarrass any companies by sharing their names. This past week I spoke with a long-time EMS client whose company just had to declare bankruptcy. It is kind of confusing but an investor ended up suing the company, even though it was the investor himself who had failed to pony up the promised investment dollars. The company declared bankruptcy because it just could not lawyer up like the rich investor. The bankrupt company has launched another company.
Ten years ago, the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot culinary forecast said the top food trend was “bite-sized desserts.” This year that trend is nowhere to be found on the NRA’s top 20 list. Topping this year’s list of trends: “Locally sourced meats and seafood.” The NRA surveyed nearly 1,600 professional chefs to find which foods, beverages and culinary themes will be hot on restaurant menus in 2016. Interestingly, seven of the top 10 trends have something to do with sustainability and wellness: 3. Locally grown produce; 4. Hyper-local sourcing; 5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food; 6. Environmental sustainability; 7. Healthful kids’ meals; and 9. Sustainable seafood. When asked which current culinary trend has grown the most over the past 10 years, 44 percent of survey respondents said “Local sourcing.”
As part of HX: The Hotel Experience, the trade show held earlier this month in New York, I moderated a panel discussion on innovations in the laundry and how one can benefit by saving energy, reducing water and chemical consumption, and extending towel and linen life. There was a lot of laundry experience represented on the stage that day. It was an honor to have companies like Water Energy Technologies and Laundry Consulting, Pellerin Milnor Corp., Xeros, Inc., and P&G Professional Business represented. Admittedly, I have never worked in a hotel laundry or even worked in a hotel for that matter, but I have gotten a pretty good sense over the many years that I have been covering this industry that the laundry is one of the operational areas most prone to inefficiencies and dysfunctionality—and possibly even strangeness.
HX: The Hotel Experience and Boutique Design New York (BDNY) wrapped up last week at the Javits Center in New York City. HX, formerly the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show (IHMRS), was a great place to be if your goal was to find new products and technologies to help green up your property. At BDNY, there were many green stories as well, although sometimes not as readily apparent if you were walking the trade show floor. Those looking for radical changes from the IHMRS events in years past did not find them but there were some additions that stood out as welcome changes. For example, there were stages dedicated to different topics where panel discussions were held and suppliers had an opportunity to talk about their products. At HX: ONSTAGE-HOTEL I led three discussions.
You are most likely reading this while I am attending HX: The Hotel Experience in New York City. The event, what was once the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS), is taking place from Nov. 8-10 and is adjacent to Boutique Design New York (BDNY) which is being held Nov. 8-9. Both events are at the Javits Center. I am writing this column in advance of the show and am very excited to see how different HX will be from IHMRS. The owners of the event have invested a lot in revitalizing the show. I will be moderating three green sessions on the following topics: “The Numbers Behind the Trends—Gauging Traveler/Hotelier Reaction to the Greening of Lodging,” “C-Level Strategy—What’s Driving Lodging’s Leading Companies to Invest in Sustainability,” and “You Want Me to Do What?...in the Laundry?”
One of the most impressive reports to come along in recent years is the Green Venue Report. Just released for the second time, it is available for free (sign up here to download it). The 59-page report highlights the results of a 158-question survey. Topic areas range from energy, waste and staff involvement to food and beverage, water and air quality. Conducted in the spring and based on 2014 information, this year’s data set includes 30 convention centers from six countries and four continents. Compared to year one of the report, the number of participants nearly doubled. Twenty-one of the 205 convention centers in the United States are represented (10 percent). Well designed graphically with callouts of fascinating findings, the report is rich with best practices and is mostly a snapshot of the best of the best.
This past week was a busy news week. First, Marriott International released its 2015 Sustainability Report. Found here, it includes 12 different sections ranging from Business Ethics and Human Rights to Environmental Performance. Of note, Marriott has reduced its energy intensity (kWh of per square meter of conditioned space) by 9.4 percent since 2007, its water intensity (cubic meter per occupied room) by 22.9 percent, and its greenhouse gas emissions intensity (kilograms per square meter) by 10 percent. If you would like to compare Marriott’s performance from year to year, the company now has six years of sustainability reports on its website. I will be chatting with Mari Snyder, V.P., Corporate Social Responsibility at Marriott this coming week to learn more about the company’s efforts.
I have written a number of times about shipping containers and how they have been used in our industry. Early this year I posted an article about the Days Inn-Sioux Lookout in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, a property made from 120 shipping containers. At least one hotel—the Ritz-Carlton, Naples (Fla.) is using a shipping container in a different way—to grow crops. I spoke briefly with Gabrielle O’Boyle, Communications Manager at the hotel, and she told me the container sits in a service drive area of the property. I plan to interview George Fistrovich, the Executive Chef at the hotel, to get more details. What I know at this point is that the on-site Grow House is the first of its kind in a resort setting.
Is it just me or do you also feel a bit guilty each time you use a paper towel to dry your hands in a public restroom? Given the advances that have been made with hand dryers (read my hand dryer article that I posted this week) I really don’t understand why commercial establishments and public facilities still offer paper towels. Am I missing something here? If you are still offering paper towels to your guests, perhaps even in combination with hand dryers, what is your rationale for doing so? I would love to know. I asked Robert Green, U.S. Head Engineer at Dyson, whether or not his company still comes across some customers that utilize both hand dryers and paper towels and he told me it depends on the customer.
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