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HAC Traveler Survey: Green Growing in Importance

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OTTAWA, ONT.—For the past six years, the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) has conducted a comprehensive survey of Canadian travel trends and intentions for the upcoming year. Unveiled during HAC’s Annual Conference and Trade Show in February, the results of this year’s survey revealed several important insights of great value with respect to a hotel’s sustainable initiatives. The survey identified important trends with respect to the “environment” which hoteliers should note, including increasing awareness of environmental issues among hotel guests, and an increased importance related to both green certified hotels and hotels promoting eco-friendly practices to their guests.

Relating specifically to the question of the “Importance of Environmental Initiatives” at the hotels they frequented, 42 percent of business travelers and 44 percent of leisure travelers placed this as a priority, which increased year over year by 6 percent and 7 percent respectively, even with the recent economic uncertainty. Leading the way were travelers from Quebec, with 54 percent of business travelers and 51 percent of leisure travelers indicating environmental issues being important to them.

“The environment is at the top of the list of issues that are important to Canadians today,” said Tony Pollard, president of the Hotel Association of Canada. “Our survey goes on to show that travelers are willing to pay a premium to support the environment when staying in our lodging facilities; it’s great to see that Canadians will support more of these efforts.”

Another question very important to note involved the “Importance of Environmental “Amenities.” This question asked both business and leisure travelers if certain amenities were important to them when selecting (booking) an accommodation. On the business side, 34 percent of travelers considered hotels with an environmental rating certification as being important when booking. Twenty-one per cent considered hotels offering the ability for them to purchase carbon offsets to “offset” their hotel stay important. An additional 34 percent considered hotels offering “green products” important.

Leisure Traveler Trends

The leisure results were similar, with 22 percent placing importance on an environmental rating, 30 percent on availability of green products, and 15 percent considering a carbon offset program important. Most striking were the numbers from Quebec and Atlantic Canada, where just short of 50 percent of those surveyed considered a hotel participating in an environmental rating program as important to their booking selection process.

On the business side, another question was formulated around whether those surveyed were aware if their company/organization had in place a green accommodation policy as part of their travel directives, which should be used whenever possible. This was a very important trend, as the percentage of respondents who indicated “yes” doubled year over year, from 5 percent to 11 percent. As more companies move towards green accommodation programs, this is an important trend for hoteliers to be aware of.

Finally, the survey examined the concept of a “carbon offset” offered by hotels and a guest’s willingness to participate/contribute to such a program. The results found that 52 percent of business travelers and 41 percent of leisure travelers were willing to participate in a “carbon offset” program, which would involve the voluntary contribution of between $1 and $5 per guest per night. Interestingly, a full 11 percent of business and 7 percent of leisure respondents indicated they would pay $5 per night towards “offsetting” their stay.

Overall, the results of the annual Travel Intentions Survey indicated that the importance of environmental initiatives among both business and leisure travelers in Canada continues to rise, even in times of economic uncertainty.

The sixth Annual Hotel Association of Canada 2010 Travel Intentions Survey polled 1,004 leisure travelers and 520 business travelers in December 2009 and January 2010. The overall margin of error was +/- 2.5%, at a 95 percent confidence interval.

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