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Hotels have come a long way in embracing sustainability over the last decade, and for good reason. Evidence shows companies focused on sustainability outperform their peers. In the first quarter of Travelocity’s green hotel website, bookings for green hotels were 65 percent higher than for their non-green counterparts. Apart from competitive edge, operators cite financial benefit, guest satisfaction, brand enhancement, and staff retention and productivity as benefits of green hotel operation. The term “green hotel” has also evolved. Originally the term was a “catch all” for properties with almost any innovation that reduced water, waste, energy or chemicals, while saving money. But that bar has risen rapidly. No longer considered innovations, a green hotel is expected to do all the above.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we all have some contemplation ahead of us regarding the value of power continuity and what it means for long-term business success. For lodging in particular, power continuity must be viewed as an increasingly strategic consideration, given the critical role lodging plays in providing shelter during an extended outage. And it is not just those in traditional hurricane corridors like the Gulf and Southern Atlantic coastlines who must plan for power continuity in the event of extreme weather; hurricane strike zones have extended almost up to Maine, and heat waves, droughts and ice storms can also be expected to disrupt power supply regardless of geographic location.
As the lodging industry continues to lose sleep over the bed bug epidemic, it’s more important than ever to maintain effective, proactive pest management practices at your hotel. Unfortunately, many facilities have turned to improper techniques in their efforts to fight bed bugs—with serious consequences for their guests and the environment. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued a health advisory to alert the public to the dangers of improperly applying pesticides for bed bug control. According to the advisory, over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of incidents reported of people misusing pesticides to treat bed bug infestations. Several facilities have illegally sprayed outdoor pesticides indoors.
Meeting planners and attendees today are looking for more than just a nice hotel in a hip city to have their meetings. Green meetings—events and conferences organized with a lens toward reducing environmental harm—have become much more common, although the levels of “greenness” vary widely. Now groups are embracing “green” in a broader sense, one that includes social responsibility, by seeking ways to give back to the communities they are visiting. The hospitality industry is all about serving the needs of others. Therefore, it makes sense that meetings destinations and venues partner with local nonprofits to offer community service opportunities. At many hotels, employees have taken the lead to give back, volunteering both time and money to organizations that improve the environment and lives of people.
“I turned on the water in the shower and waited for 10 minutes. Warm water finally started flowing, however it never lasted more than a minute and alternated mostly with cool to cold water.” That’s the exact quote extracted from an online review of a guest who rated a hotel in Pennsylvania on Tripadvisor.com. The reviewer gave the hotel a rating of two out of a possible five. The site is full of similar comments from guests complaining about how long it took them to get hot water when they wanted to take a shower or wash their hands. In the hospitality industry, when a guest turns on the hot water in their room, most wait patiently for the water to run a while to the proper temperature. Guests do not like to wait too long for their hot water according to the International Hospitality Association.
As a result of cost savings and consumer demand, the hotel industry has jumped on the green and sustainability bandwagon. Rarely do you find a hotel that still uses incandescent light bulbs, does not have some type of policy limiting how often sheets and towels are washed, or has not installed aerators or low-flow systems in faucets and showerheads. These actions not only help promote sustainability, they help improve the bottom line as well. As to consumer demand, studies continue to indicate hotel guests prefer green and sustainable hotels. Many corporations looking for lodging for their staff now make this a requirement. Recognizing this, some major hotel chains have gone as far as to have all of their properties LEED certified or to have opened entirely new properties with hypoallergenic guestrooms.
America is in the middle of a wake-up call when it comes to water usage and costs—an issue that has long-term implications for hotel properties. This past summer saw the worst drought on record in the United States since the 1950s. And this wasn’t only in California, Nevada, or Arizona, states that have often been plagued with water shortages. No, these record-breaking droughts occurred in large sections of the Midwest. In the past these areas have occasionally experienced dry years, but they rarely suffer official droughts. In fact, 60 percent of the United States was actually labeled a drought area at one time or another during the summer months of 2012. Some water experts fear that the United States may soon return to the conditions of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when there was severe drought and dust storms.
As a global hospitality consultancy, HVS is oftentimes asked to comment on emerging technologies that are potentially applicable to hotel and resort operations—both from the perspective of hoteliers who want to learn further about opportunities for the modernization of their assets, and vendors who are keen to expand their hospitality product and service offerings. These technologies are especially prevalent in building equipment, given an expanding focus on sustainable development and operation. Regardless of the nature of the technology or whether HVS is approached by a hotelier or a vendor, our response to these sorts of inquiries is consistent: we contend there are certain common due diligence issues that are essential.
You’ve no doubt heard the term LED. And, perhaps you are even considering converting to LED lighting. Sure, you’ve heard it will drive down your energy costs and move your hotel to a “greener” future. But, why is today’s LED lighting technology really the best solution for you and your hotel? Overall, LED lighting is a more efficient product. As a hotelier, you no longer have to sacrifice quality of light. LED lighting provides the light quality needed to help transform your hotel into a home away from home. In addition, it drives down maintenance costs and reduces cooling costs to make for a more comfortable setting. While LED lighting is the best option in terms of lowering operating costs, improving environmental profile and reducing electric bills, the key to achieving effective LED lighting is smart design.
When our company first developed energy management technology back in 1992, an occupancy sensor paired with a PTAC controller capable of dynamic setback was significant. Now, 20 years later, “energy management” refers to more than just basic HVAC control. A current energy management solution can integrate with a property management system, remotely monitor every drop of power that flows into a room, produce detailed savings reports—and go completely unnoticed to the average guest. In unoccupied and unsold guestrooms, a single energy management solution can take complete control of the space. An energy management system can set back the room temperature, and disconnect lights and “energy vampires” like televisions.
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