The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation and Smith Travel Research recently released their 2006 Lodging Survey results. The number of hotels polled was significant—42,407 hotels—with 9,300 properties responding. The survey touched on subjects ranging from DVD players to early check-in. Green categories included in the survey were liquid soap dispensers, recycling programs, air purifiers, energy management sensors, linen/towel reuse programs and nonsmoking rooms.
What the survey found was significant and demonstrative of how far the industry has come and how far it still has to go. Some of the results were surprising, encouraging and even disappointing. Green Lodging News will be running an article summarizing survey results very soon. Vendors, hotel owners and operators interested in reading the complete survey results should contact the American Hotel & Lodging Assn.
Below are just a few nuggets from the survey.
• It’s official; towel/linen reuse programs are hot. In fact, according to the report, 72 percent of the responding hotels have them. That is up from 10 percent in 1996. These programs are relatively simple and inexpensive to implement and guests respond favorably to them. No real surprise here. The programs are least common in economy hotels and most prevalent in upper upscale properties. Why are economy hotel operators more reluctant to implement these programs?
• By chain scale, luxury hotels have the highest percentage of nonsmoking rooms (86 percent) and economy hotels the lowest (66 percent). Is there an underlying assumption in the industry that travelers who cannot afford to pay as much for a room tend to want to smoke more?
• Speaking of dirty air, an increasing number of hotels (16 percent) are providing in-room air purifiers. Eight years ago, only 6 percent included them. What is driving this trend? I suspect an increased desire to cater to guests with chemical and other sensitivities. There is also a trend to package air purification with other amenities such as water purifiers. Hotels that offer such packages can charge more.
• An increasing number of hoteliers are investing in guestroom energy management sensors (21 percent today compared to 14 percent in 2001) but they are still uncommon. With these devices offering so much potential to save energy and dollars, what is stopping owners and operators from investing in these? Cost? Aesthetics?
• The survey also revealed that less than half of the respondents participate in recycling programs and only 18 percent of economy hotels do so. Sixty-seven percent of luxury hotels have the programs. Is recycling such a difficult thing for economy hotel operators to participate in? By some bizarre coincidence, do economy hotels just happen to fall in areas where recycling is not offered? I highly doubt it.
In addition to revealing that economy hotels tend to be the least likely to participate in what I consider to be green programs, the survey showed that interstate hotels tend to also drag behind hotels located in other areas. What is it about the interstate location that encourages this thinking?
Congratulations to the AH&LEF and Smith Travel Research for putting together such a comprehensive study. It is definitely eye opening and helpful to those vendors and hoteliers interested in green industry trends.
Odds and Ends
Thank you to those who responded to last week’s request for resource and program information. I heard from several state associations and will be following up with articles soon that elaborate on some of the good things those associations are doing.
As always, your comments are welcome. Please write to Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor of Green Lodging News, at firstname.lastname@example.org.