I have read about a lot of green marketing ideas in the last few years—giving guests who drive hybrids free or preferred parking is one of the most popular—but I have to say that what the Sheraton Seattle and Sheraton Kauai Resort started at the beginning of this year has got to be the best one yet. They launched a pilot program called “You Tidy, We Treat.” Now known as “Make a Green Choice,” it gives guests the option of not only opting out of towel and linen replacement but also all housekeeping for a day.
Guests can choose to participate in the program for one night or up to three nights at a time during their stay. To participate, guests must hang a “Make a Green Choice” card outside their guestroom door before 2 a.m. Guests are not eligible for the program the night before checking out of the room. For each night they participate, guests are given a $5 gift card to use at any of the hotel’s restaurants. Guests also have the option of receiving 500 Starpoints as part of Starwood’s loyalty program.
In addition to the Sheraton Seattle and Sheraton Kauai Resort, other hotels participated in a second pilot phase, and now Starwood is rolling out “Make a Green Choice” at all of its Sheraton and Westin properties. At the 1,258-room Sheraton Seattle, winner of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2009 Good Earthkeeping Award in the large hotel category, general manager Matthieu Van Der Peet says the program has been a big success.
“We have received great feedback from individual travelers and meeting planners,” Van Der Peet says. “It has been very well received in the convention community.”
Up to 15 Percent Participation Rate
Van Der Peet says there have been times when the Sheraton Seattle has been booked solid and had a 15 percent participation rate. Do the math and that is almost 188 rooms that do not need to be cleaned per night. Assuming a housekeeper cleans 15 rooms a day, that equates to 12.5 fewer housekeepers being needed. On average, Van Der Peet says the hotel has had about a 10 percent participation rate.
The following are some additional reasons why “Make a Green Choice” makes sense:
• Hotels that participate not only reduce labor costs but also water, sewer, energy, chemical and linen expenses—a win for the environment as well as the hotel. The Sheraton Seattle will use 900,000 fewer gallons of water and 9,000 fewer gallons of chemicals this year.
• The Sheraton Seattle reported they actually increased bookings specifically because of “Make a Green Choice.” What hotel does not need that in today’s economy?
• From a public relations perspective it has been a huge win—generating nationwide publicity. Starwood has taken another important step to publicly cement its commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.
• The program helps drive additional business to each hotel’s own restaurants.
• By giving guests loyalty points, Starwood is creating an even more loyal group of guests—those with more incentive to stay at Starwood hotels in the future.
Congratulations to Starwood for creating “Make a Green Choice.” If your hotel company has a green marketing program that has had similar success, I want to learn about it. Call me at (440) 243-2055, or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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