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Cornell Studies Guest Reactions to Energy Saving Initiatives


ITHACA, N.Y.—In one of the first empirical studies of the effects of energy saving treatments on hotel guests’ satisfaction, Cornell University researchers have found that carefully designed conservation treatments do not diminish the guest experience. The study, sponsored by Philips, was conducted at the Statler Hotel, the four-diamond hotel operated as a teaching and research laboratory by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Conducted by Associate Professor Alex Susskind and Professor Rohit Verma, the study tested reduced television power levels and alterations in bathroom lighting in the guestrooms. The study, “Hotel Guests’ Reactions to Guest Room Sustainability Initiatives,” by Alex M. Susskind and Rohit Verma, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/2011.html. Philips is a CHR senior partner.

“We replaced the CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) in the bathrooms with LEDs (light emitting diodes),” said Susskind, “and we tested four different power levels for the LCD televisions. If the guests noticed these changes at all, they still gave the guest rooms positive ratings. They seemed equally pleased with the CFLs and the LEDs in the bathroom.”

Susskind and Verma’s study surveyed 192 guests of the Statler Hotel, asking them a series of questions about the room features, including the lighting and televisions. They found no statistical difference in the guests’ ratings of the four television power levels or the two different lighting styles. A quick, back-of-envelope calculation estimates a savings of $6,000 for the 150-room Statler, if the televisions are set at the lowest power level.

“Our study revealed one other finding that may be a surprise to some,” added Verma, who is CHR executive director. “We asked these guests whether they would consider paying a higher rate for a room with sustainable features, and 45 percent said yes, although we did not specify a particular room rate. At the same time, once again we found that the respondents would not choose a particular hotel or hotel brand just because of its commitment to sustainable operations.”

Meet and interact with Alex Susskind and Rohit Verma, active members of the executive education faculty, at the School of Hotel Administration, when they present sessions in the Professional Development Program: http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/industry/executive/pdp/.

Thanks to the support of CHR partners, all publications posted on the center’s website are available free of charge, at www.chr.cornell.edu.