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I have read about a lot of green marketing ideas in the last few years—giving guests who drive hybrids free or preferred parking is one of the most popular—but I have to say that what the Sheraton Seattle and Sheraton Kauai Resort started at the beginning of this year has got to be the best one yet. They launched a pilot program called “You Tidy, We Treat.” Now known as “Make a Green Choice,” it gives guests the option of not only opting out of towel and linen replacement but also all housekeeping for a day.
Three of the largest U.S.-based hotel companies—Hilton Hotels Corp., Wyndham Worldwide and Marriott International—are now walking their green talk at home in their headquarters offices. Hilton just relocated its headquarters from Beverly Hills, Calif., to a LEED Gold certified building in the Tysons Corner area of McLean, Va. Wyndham, which opened its new headquarters in a brand new building in Parsippany, N.J., earlier this year, is pursuing LEED for Commercial Interiors for the structure.
Numerous cities in the United States have green lodging or tourism programs—initiatives that encourage conservation, networking and education. Chicago, Cleveland, Boston and Philadelphia come to mind. No city that I know of, however, has taken it upon itself to create its own green lodging certification program—until now. I recently learned that Chattanooga, Tenn., now has its own Green Lodging Program for hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other lodging facilities.
With all of the attention given to green lodging over the past few years, few owners have had the courage to really “shout” about their environmental commitment in the actual brand name or property name. Yes, Starwood has its Element brand, but if you knew nothing about the brand to begin with, chances are you would not guess that it has strong green attributes. The same goes for NYLO, another eco-hip brand. Say “NYLO” to someone with limited industry knowledge and “green” just does not come to mind.
A little more than a month ago I featured the organization Clean the World in this column. Clean the World is an Orlando, Fla.-based organization that focuses on the collection and distribution of unused soap portions and shampoo for the purpose of distributing them to those in need. The organization was started by Shawn Seipler and Paul Till, two gentlemen who wondered what happens to all of the unused soap and shampoo left at lodging establishments around the United States and elsewhere.
July 10, 2006 was an ordinary day for most of you but for Green Lodging News it was a very important day—the first day of publication. I am excited to celebrate Green Lodging News’ third birthday. It is hard to believe that so much time has gone by. Actually, Green Lodging News has been a four-year venture for me; it took a year of planning to get the publication up and running. Its success is the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of support from its readers and advertisers. Thank you to all of you for helping to make Green Lodging News a success!
Earth Day was a very important day this year for those in Canada’s tourism industry. It was on that day, April 22, that 36 industry leaders gathered in Toronto to form the Canadian Sustainable Tourism Advisory Council. Organized by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), the Council’s members represent every type of industry stakeholder: hotels, inns, universities, tourism commissions and associations, consultants, travel planners, and others.
I have heard and read quite a bit about what is or is not biodegradable in the past week. One reason is the article I wrote about utensils that are made from plant-based materials such as corn and potatoes. Another reason is an ad that ran recently in Green Lodging News that touted a product's biodegradability. What I learned is that you cannot truly feel good about buying a biodegradable product unless after its life you are 100 percent sure that it will be in an environment that will allow it to quickly biodegrade—an industrial composting facility, for example.
In case you did not catch the recent news, as part of the 2009 Florida Legislative Session, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was asked to submit plans to reduce expenditures by a minimum of 10 percent. (The DEP runs Florida’s very successful Green Lodging Program.) As it turns out, 10 percent was wishful thinking. The Florida Green Lodging Program was actually reduced in size from $337,000 and four workers to $63,000 and one employee. The two founders of the program have been reassigned. That’s right, just one person will be charged with managing a program that currently has 520 designated Green Lodging properties and a very long list of applicants.
Shawn Seipler and Paul Till are not hoteliers but they have just launched an organization that could do more good for humanity than just about anything any of us will ever do. Allow me to explain. Shawn, who travels a lot for his sales job, frequently stays in hotels. He began to wonder what happened to the unused bars of soap and shampoo bottles left behind after his visits. Shawn, who is based in Orlando, Fla., called his friend Paul in Houston and they decided to do a survey. Together they called about 30 properties and representatives of those hotels all told the two that they just throw the unused items away.
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