At the recent International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) Annual Conference in Miami, ISHC members participated in a series of roundtable discussions to identify their Top Ten Issues in the Hospitality Industry for 2007. From one to 10, their list included the following: labor and skills shortages; construction costs; technology and keeping up with it; changing demographics and their impact on travel trends; future of hotel profits; branding; distribution revolution; travel restrictions; global emerging markets; and capital availability.
Knowing that ISHC represents a significant part of the lodging industry’s brain power, it was disheartening that rising energy costs and other environment-related issues did not make their top 10 list. Is it any wonder that the lodging industry has such a long way to go to become sustainable? Keeping in mind that there are a lot of positive things happening in the industry, and that there are a lot of industry leaders who do recognize the importance of environmental protection, here is my own list for the New Year: The Top 10 Environmental Issues Facing the Hospitality Industry in 2007.
1. Staying ahead of rising energy costs. Yes, the industry did get a breather from skyrocketing energy costs in the second half of 2006, but prices were still higher than the previous year for the fifth straight year.
2. Learning how to design and build new hotels that meet Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED) standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Construction on MGM Mirage’s $7 billion CityCenter project in Las Vegas—a LEED project—will move forward in 2007.
3. Climate change. As evidence continues to mount regarding the reality of global warming, how will the lodging industry react? What companies will demonstrate the greatest leadership?
4. Indoor air quality. Last year saw Marriott, Westin and others transition to 100 percent nonsmoking environments. What chains will be next? Increasingly, voters and travelers are clamoring for clean air.
5. At the association level, the lodging industry is hungry for leadership—individuals to take the lead in pushing the industry toward sustainability. Who will step forward?
6. Meeting planners increasingly will require green practices as they select their meeting destinations. What hotel companies and cities will be best positioned to take advantage of this trend?
7. There is a need for a greater environmental presence at the lodging industry’s largest trade shows. Will that happen in 2007? The National Restaurant Assn. show in Chicago will feature a Green Restaurant Products Pavilion for the second year. It will be 40 percent larger than last year. Other major industry shows—the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show and the many large hotel chain conferences—should consider similar setups.
8. Green lodging certification programs are popping up at the state level around the country. National level programs also continue to grow in the United States and Canada. Will 2007 be the year when stakeholders in these programs start to talk to one another with the goal of establishing one green hotel rating system?
9. Greenhouse gas/carbon offsetting programs are becoming more common. In 2006, Vail Resorts announced it will offset 100 percent of its energy use by purchasing nearly 152,000 megawatt-hours of wind energy. What other companies will join Vail Resorts and others in doing this in 2007?
10. Starwood Capital Group announced last year that it would launch “1”—a new environmentally friendly hotel brand. Other brands such as aloft and Element—ones with some environmental qualities—were unveiled last year. Still, the industry is ripe for the introduction of a truly green hotel brand, especially at the select-service level. What company will take advantage of this opportunity?
These are just some of the environment-related issues the lodging industry will face in the New Year. As you meet with your management teams this month, be sure to set measurable, green goals and make the environment a priority. If you do so, you can be sure that 2007 will be a much more profitable year for everyone.
Have a very happy New Year!
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (440) 243-2055. I look forward to hearing from you.