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Home Page Green Marketing Requirement Gets Me Thinking

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This past week I spoke with Kit Cassingham, owner of the Environmentally Friendly Hotels website (see article), about her decision to strengthen the criteria for inclusion on her seven-year-old site. At one time, a property needed to take just one green step to be included on Kit’s site. Given that low bar, the number of properties on Kit’s list had ballooned to 5,600 properties. Kit just decided to strengthen the requirements for inclusion. Now, properties must take 10 of the green action steps listed on her site in order to be included. This step could reduce the number of listings to as low as 1,500. I applaud Kit for her decision. One should not be allowed to list a property as green on any site just because one has a towel and linen reuse program.

One of the new requirements for inclusion on Kit’s site is that you must include information about your green initiatives on your property’s home page. “We feel that if you are going to be a truly green hotel you have to take a bold stand on it and make it an obvious part of your marketing and Web presence,” Kit says.

Kit just might meet some resistance with this requirement. What I have learned in the almost five years that I have been publishing Green Lodging News is that companies are often very hesitant to promote their green initiatives on their websites. Why the hesitancy? I would love to read your thoughts on this but I believe there are several reasons.

Some Just Don’t Get It

The first reason is that some hoteliers and innkeepers just don’t understand the marketing and public relations upside to including information about the steps they are taking to save energy and water, reduce waste, and improve indoor air quality. They don’t understand that at least one-third of the traveling public—tens of millions of people in all types of purchasing positions—is seeking out places to stay and meet that align with their green values.

The second reason involves unfounded fears. Some hotel owners and innkeepers don’t want to risk being considered “tree hugging” or “left leaning” in any way, thinking this will scare off a segment of potential guests. I have not seen one traveler study to back up this perception. Some of the most politically conservative people I know are the most religious about green travel, green building and green hotel operations.

The third reason was revealed in a conversation I had this past week with an executive at a luxury hotel. There is the perception that if you run a luxury hotel, you have to be very careful about your green messaging and not be “in your face” with it. In other words, you don’t want your guests to think that their luxury experience will be compromised in any way because they are staying at a green hotel. I totally disagree with this approach and strongly believe that staying at a green hotel can be an even more luxurious, healthy experience for a guest than staying at a non-green hotel—and something certainly worth bragging about on a home page.

So tell me, what thoughts went through your head when deciding whether or not to highlight, include, exclude or even hide your property’s green initiatives on your website? From what you have seen online so far, which properties are doing the best job presenting their green stories? Feel free to write about your own site. I will look forward to hearing from you. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com, or by phone at (440) 243-2055.

Earth Day & Earth Hour

Earth Day is coming up on April 22 and Earth Hour on March 26. If your property is planning to participate in either or both of these events, send details to editor@greenlodgingnews.com. Starwood, Kimpton and Fairmont properties have already committed to participating in Earth Hour, Earth Day and Earth Week activities.

Green Lodging News Adds Essentia as Directory Partner

Green Lodging News welcomes Essentia as a Green Product & Service Directory partner. Essentia’s mattresses include Natural Memory Foam and 100 percent natural latex rubber. The Natural Memory Foam is petroleum-free and free of any toxic ingredients such as glue and adhesives. The mattresses are available from soft to firm and breathe 80 percent better than other memory foam on the market. The memory foam is also biodegradable. For more information, call (888) 764-4116, or go to www.myessentia.com.

Advertising Opportunities

Green Lodging News is accepting reservations for advertising spots in 2011. Several new slots have opened up on the Green Lodging News website—two skyscraper ad spots on the right hand side of the site, the home page bottom banner ad spot, and the Featured Product ad spot in the weekly newsletter and in the lower center area of the home page. Be sure to contact me as soon as possible at (440) 243-2055, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com if you are interested in these ad spots. There are also many Green Supplier Spotlight dates available, and other spots on the website and in the weekly e-newsletter. The 2011 media kit is available by request or by clicking here. Thank you to all of those companies that consistently support Green Lodging News.

Green Lodging News Blog & Twitter

Be sure to bookmark the Green Lodging News Blog in your browser. More importantly, participate with your comments. Green Lodging News is also now on Twitter. To follow my postings, go to http://twitter.com/greenlodging. Be sure to add Green Lodging News to those tweets that you follow. Green Lodging News now has 728 Twitter followers.

As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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