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The transition toward greater sustainability is impacting how hotels are approaching operations. As part of many green initiatives, more and more hotels are now implementing an Enterprise Asset Management Computerized Maintenance Management Software system to gain better control of their energy usage. I will elaborate more on this later. The definition of hotel sustainability has evolved over time from a simple going green idea to a philosophy that more and more organizations are recognizing as critical to their long-term success. For hotels and resorts the move toward sustainability issues is a win-win scenario. Surveys have shown that an increasing number of guests are determining where they will stay based upon a hotel’s commitment to the world environment.
Hotel executives are constantly reviewing cost-benefit analysis throughout their properties: Will the addition of a particular guest amenity pay for itself in an incrementally higher average room rate, or more nights sold? Will the investment in a new property management system deliver solid returns through better revenue management or inventory planning? There are some investments hoteliers need to make, which are not as easy to quantify, but yet are among the most significant decisions made today. What sustainability initiatives should you implement in your hotels? A recent study of 5,000 Expedia consumers found that 75 percent define sustainability as building, furnishing and operating hotels in ways that are “better for the guest, better for the community and better for the planet.”
An unmade bed, wastebaskets full and overflowing, damp bath towels scattered on the bathroom floor, a vanity top spotted with shaving soap and used paper coffee cups on the desk. What’s wrong with this picture? Well actually, nothing. Although I am staying in a perfectly respectable hotel in Pittsburgh, the housekeepers aren’t on strike and I feel at home in the disorder. Welcome to a new wrinkle in hospitality where some hotel chains and independent lodgings pay you to be “green” with a cash voucher or frequent guest reward. Just choose to opt out of daily room cleaning. It’s that simple. And with the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day coming up on April 22, hotel guests should be reminded of the Make a Green Choice program.
Third-party forest certification has long been an excellent—and simple—way for the hospitality industry to show it is buying wood, paper and print products from responsible sources. And a growing awareness of the benefits of independent certification is making it even more accessible. Green building is a good example. Green rating tools that value wood as a critical component of environmentally progressive architectural design have been offering credits for certified wood for some time now; and most recognize all credible forest certification standards in their programs and policies. In North America, these standards include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and American Tree Farm System (ATFS).
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.
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