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The hospitality community in the Buffalo Niagara region in Western New York is serious about green initiatives. A few years ago, Visit Buffalo Niagara created the Buffalo Green Hospitality Initiative to establish environmentally responsible practices and promote a green experience that would make Buffalo Niagara a more environmentally responsible meeting destination. Also strengthening its commitment to sustainability, Visit Buffalo Niagara joined the ASAE Convene Green Alliance, a community of event professionals dedicated to advancing green initiatives in the meetings and events industry. The “Green & Mean (It)” program led by Visit Buffalo Niagara earned support from area businesses. The program requires that hotels and businesses follow the guidelines of a 15-page green self-certification workbook.
One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell. As I recall, I was wandering around an airport one day with some free time when I picked up a copy of The Tipping Point. After reading The Tipping Point it became imperative that I read Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. But this isn’t a book review. It’s really a discussion about a Tipping Point that (in my humble opinion) has been reached in the lodging industry. A definition for Tipping Point is as follows: “The point at which the buildup of minor incidents reaches a level that causes someone to do something they had formerly resisted.” Since about 1994 I have been extolling the virtues of using amenity dispensers in hotel guestrooms. You could call me the “Johnny Appleseed” of amenity dispensers. Until the last few years interest in amenity dispensers has been underwhelming.
A bit of a controversy has emerged for hotel owners/managers who want to operate a green property but also use carpet extractors that heats water/cleaning solution when performing carpet extraction. This was not much of an issue until the mid-2000s. But then, a major school district adopted a green cleaning program requiring that only cold water be used when performing cleaning tasks, including carpet cleaning. This was based on the conclusion that using cold water was healthier for the environment. This caused a bit of an uproar for many members of the professional cleaning industry as well as the carpet cleaning industry, who were well aware of the four fundamentals of cleaning. The first is time—allowing enough time for chemicals to dwell on a surface, including carpet, to work effectively.
Marrying health and wellness with eco-friendly initiatives in a bicycle-lending program offers a two-prong approach to building loyalty with hotel guests. Ensuring that the progressive way to provide an active and environmentally sound way for travelers to explore diverse destinations meets with success, however, requires a few best practices to consider. A successful bicycle lending program will consist of (1) appropriate quality product (2) parking alternatives (3) service and maintenance considerations (4) a lending management process (5) global logistic capabilities and if your bicycle program source is really good (6) a money generating and additional loyalty building menu of ideas. A successful bicycle-lending program can build loyalty and be the basis of the green and healthy credentials future guests are seeking.
Innovation is what today’s destination shoppers need to form an allegiance with a brand. The hospitality industry’s bag of enticements to create guest loyalty must continue to evolve as the priorities of its guests change over time. Health and wellness and eco-friendly initiatives continue to influence marketplaces across disciplines and drive consumer’s buying habits. Specifically, adventure tourism, which focuses on “staying lean and green…and engaging in adventure activities,” is one of the hottest trends for 2011 and beyond. The popularity of green vacations, in all their incantations, is well documented and on the rise. More interesting is that travelers have begun and will continue to select hotels specifically for their green or environmentally conscious credentials. Cycling as the answer to the twin concerns of the environment and wellness offers a perfect opportunity to attract hotel guests.
YOUNTVILLE, CALIF.—When Bardessono Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa was conceived, the vision was simple—to be the greenest and best luxury hotel in the world. This was not an easy undertaking. On February 2, 2009, at the absolute bottom of the lodging industry’s economy, Bardessono opened in Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley, California. This 62-room property was developed at a cost of more than $1 million per key, enabling it to quickly join Auberge, Calistoga Ranch, and Meadowood in the elite group of Napa Valley’s finest luxury hotels. Its differentiation was two-fold—its “greenness” and its location within the town of Yountville, considered by many the most desirable location in the Valley, and home to some of the finest restaurants in the U.S.
At one point, people living in 13th century England noticed something unusual when the bread they were buying from the local bakery simply did not taste the same. Oh, the price was right. In fact, in many cases the bread was even less expensive than it had been a few years earlier. But the taste and even the texture of the bread were different. Bakers, looking for a way to cut costs and compete with other bakers, were mixing “fillers” in with the flour dough. These fillers were typically ground beans and peas. They were safe, but they did change the taste of the bread. A bit of an uproar ensued but the King of England at the time decided not to regulate what could and could not be used to make bread. Instead, he believed consumers had a right to know exactly what was in the bread.
Every year I spend a bit of time at our local AIA trade show. More often than not I’m just renewing friendships and saying hello to architects I’ve worked with over my 30 plus years as an interiorscaper. However, a couple of years ago we featured three large photos, one of a green roof, one of a greenwall and one of green plants—and did we have action at our booth. The photo was of a project we installed some 17 years ago. So while greenwalls aren’t exactly new, they are an idea whose time has come. You also know that’s true when you see them appearing in McDonald’s advertising and frequently in Whole Food Markets. So based upon that trade show experience and a bit of prodding by a good friend to help her with the design of a major greenwall installation, I entered the greenwall product market.
If I have learned anything after 20 years of managing engineering departments it is this: the most successful engineers thrive in an environment where their leadership has a thorough understanding and appreciation for what the hotel’s maintenance team does, and how its efforts contribute to the overall success of the property. Sounds obvious, right? But how often is this dynamic a reality? Perhaps more often, general managers’ priorities lay elsewhere, and when it comes to their engineering departments, their paradigm follows the mantra “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” So while their engineers likely welcome the sovereignty, it still begs the question…do general managers really understand what their engineers do?
When many people think of hotels, they think of the big bed that will keep them comfortable while they’re on the road. But what happens when that bed wears out? The eco-minded consumer wants to know that their bed was disposed of in the most responsible manner possible. The good news for hoteliers is that mattress recycling locations are popping up all over the country. These companies take away old mattresses and box-springs and process them for safe, responsible recycling. Mattress recycling companies create jobs, help your company achieve green certification, and address a growing problem in the industry—bedbugs. At an average of 23 cubic feet and 55 pounds, beds are among the largest items a hotel has to throw away.
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