Home Publisher's Point of View Effort Behind Lodging Survey Impressive; Results Sometimes Baffling

Effort Behind Lodging Survey Impressive; Results Sometimes Baffling

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Glenn Hasek

Approximately every two years the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) releases the results of its Lodging Survey. The survey is done in partnership with STR and is funded by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation. The 2018 survey included all properties in the United States with 10 or more guestrooms—nearly 56,000 U.S. properties—easily making the survey sample the largest of any survey in our industry. The report based on the survey was released a little more than a week ago. See this article for a link to the survey report.

This year’s survey report included data on many aspects of sustainability—from energy management sensors to green certification. Some of the survey results made sense and reinforced the case that our industry is increasingly adopting green practices, products and technologies. With other survey results one could make the case that our industry is running from sustainability faster than Usain Bolt in the Olympics.

Here are some examples of survey results that make sense:

  • The percentage of hotels with LED energy-efficient lighting: 90 percent.
  • The percentage of respondents who said they have a towel/linen reuse program: 95 percent.
  • The percentage of hotels with an electric car charging station: 13 percent. That is up from 8 percent in 2016.
  • The percentage of hotels with a vegetarian menu increased from 28 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2018. No surprise here given the growth in wellness consciousness.

All of these are expected results given trends that have been building for years.

Here are some examples of survey results that will make your head spin:

  • The percentage of respondents who said they have an energy management sensor in the room: 16 percent. This is down from 48 percent in 2016. This one totally baffles me. The implementation of energy management sensors has been trending upward for years. In 2014, 28 percent of respondents said they have them in guestrooms. I just don’t get it.
  • The percentage of hotels with a wall-mounted thermostat in the room fell from 81 percent in 2014 to 62 percent in 2018. Again, a real baffler.
  • The percentage of respondents who said their properties have an amenities recycling program: 25 percent. In 2016: 47 percent. A real head spinner. The year 2016 was the first year a question was asked about amenities recycling. With the growing success of Clean the World and awareness of the value in amenities recycling growing as well, how could participation have dropped so much?
  • Finally, are hotel owners becoming more like grinches than Santas? The percentage of hotels that gave to charities dropped from 85 percent in 2016 to 70 percent in 2018. Ouch! Another result that just does not make sense given the growth of Corporate Social Responsibility.

If you would like another view of green industry trends based on a survey, I highly recommend the Green Lodging Trends Report 2018 produced by Greenview. Click here to access it.

Methodology Madness?

Is there something wrong with the methodology of the AHLA/STR survey? I am not a statistical expert by any means, but one must wonder why so many of the results run counter to industry trends.

One final note: If the results of the AHLA/STR survey ARE accurate, those of you with properties in the Economy segment need to get your green act together. Only 1 percent said they have energy management sensors in guestrooms. Only 9 percent said they recycle. Only 2 percent said they participate in amenities recycling. Only 2 percent said they have a green certification. I could go on…you get the idea.

Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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