Home Publisher's Point of View How Well Do Your Employees Know Your Green Commitment?

How Well Do Your Employees Know Your Green Commitment?


You can invest heavily in greening up your lodging establishment but without ongoing staff training I guarantee that your green property will never reach its potential or meet staff and guest expectations. Even hotels with reputations as leaders in lodging’s environmental movement can struggle with staff training.

I spoke with Katrina D’Argenis this past week and she described what it has been like managing the Saunders Hotel Group’s Comfort Inn & Suites Logan International Airport over the past few years. The hotel is arguably one of the greenest in the country with its more than 90 initiatives (click here to see them). Katrina told me that when she first started working at her hotel she spoke with staff about all of the green initiatives that were in place.

“I spoke to the staff about how we are a green hotel,” she says. “A lot of the them did not know we are a green hotel. They were doing [green] things but did not know why. The first priority was to get our staff up to speed. I started listing everything we were doing and put explanations next to each item. I quizzed our staff about everything.”

Managers Must Generate New Ideas

Not everyone received the same level of training but those working the front desk were required to know the most. Housekeepers were trained on towel and linen reuse, everyone was trained on recycling, etc. Department heads started meeting monthly to stay apprised of green programs and each is now required to come up with two new initiatives a quarter. D’Argenis says she is currently working to get employees trained on composting. For her and her team at the Comfort Inn & Suites Logan International Airport, training is a process that never ends.

How do you make sure that employees are constantly kept up to speed on your green initiatives? Do you quiz them? What process do new employees go through? What about managers? Are they held to the same high standard as everyone else? How visible are your reminders in employee-only areas? How often are those reminders updated? Is there a document easily available that lists all the steps your property is taking to reduce its environmental impact? How often is that document updated?

I was a bit surprised that even a hotel as well regarded for its green initiatives as the Comfort Inn & Suites Logan International Airport would have staff training challenges. I should not have been surprised; it is a challenge every property faces. How do you ensure that your employees remain well trained and knowledgeable of your green initiatives? Please share your best practices. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Last Week’s Column on Optional Housekeeping

Last week’s column on optional housekeeping made its way around the Internet and was even picked up by Reuters. (See article.) Ray Hobbs, senior vice president, Kelco Hotels, wrote the following in response to the column:

“All hotel brands, and most hotel companies, offer associates a discounted rate for stays when occupancy levels are low. Additionally, corporate representatives also stay ‘comp’ when conducting site visits at their hotel. And while this courtesy does afford associates with an opportunity to experience hotel stays as guests, and corporate representatives may want to view the cleaning practices of their housekeeping staff, I believe all should be ‘practicing what we preach.’ When I stay at my clients’ hotels, I put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and I advise the front desk that I will not require service during my stay. I reuse my towels and I don’t need my bed changed and remade every day. All I really need for a two to three day stay is a few extra coffee packets! I would like to see hotel brands, and hotel companies, encourage this practice within their own teams! Hotels today are trying to find cost efficiencies in every possible place and it seems to me this practice may be one more way to engage hotel associates in the ‘GREEN’ movement!”

Another reader wrote the following:

“I just read about the Make a Green Choice at the GreenBiz website. I think this is a great idea. I have just started to do this myself by leaving the Do Not Disturb sign on my door for the whole stay. I got tired of hanging up my towels and still having them changed. Even when I tell housekeeping I do not want any service, about two days in they leave me a note saying they couldn’t get into my room to clean because of the Do Not Disturb sign. This is even at Sheratons. So I am very glad for this program and hope I stay at a hotel that will reward me for not using housekeeping.”

See You in New York?

I will be attending the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show in New York City. The event will be held from November 13 to 16 at the Javits Center. If you plan to attend or exhibit at the show, be sure to let me know. Approximately 700 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees are expected.

Off the show floor, seminars will address everything from adapting to new consumer attitudes and online customer interaction, to powering up profits and developing winning sales strategies. Be sure to catch “Green Certified Demystified” on Sunday, November 14, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., featuring AH&LA green consultant Pat Maher. This program will address the process and criteria for the top green certification programs, including LEED, Energy Star and Green Key Global.

For more information about the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, click here.

2010/2011 Green Lodging News Advertising

Several new advertising spots 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 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 other excellent spots available on the website and in the weekly e-newsletter. The 2010 and 2011 media kits are available by request or by clicking here. Thank you to all of those companies that consistently support Green Lodging News.

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