Home Publisher's Point of View Trying to Make Sense of Sustainability Fees

Trying to Make Sense of Sustainability Fees

Glenn Hasek

It was about 14 years ago that I wrote about the energy surcharges that some hotels were charging. Due to their unpopularity, they disappeared quite quickly. In a January 10 story on The Points Guy, it was reported that some Marriott hotels have begun tacking on a nightly “sustainability fee”. The Points Guy picked up the story from One Mile at a Time which reported about one hotel adding on a nightly $4.99 sustainability fee. “This fee isn’t referenced when rates are initially displayed, but rather it’s just added at the end of the booking process, as part of the all-in price,” One Mile at a Time said.

The hotels mentioned are part of two companies that independently own and operate Marriott hotels: Innkeeper Hospitality Services and Greenwood Hospitality Group.

I wrote to Marriott’s press department but did not hear back. I wrote to The Points Guy, and they declined to comment (kind of weird that they would not since they were the ones who shared the story). I also reached out to Innkeeper Hospitality Services and Greenwood Hospitality Group. Two people responded from Innkeeper, but I did not get a call back from Greenwood.

Both representatives from Innkeeper Hospitality Services told me, “In a nutshell, the Sustainability Fee supports the environmentally-responsible features in our properties.” They then went on to mention a long list of great things they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint, plastics footprint, etc. I was very impressed with their initiatives, and they do mention what they are doing in the Sustainability section of their website. Kudos to them.

Now Entering Risky Territory

By tacking on an energy fee, sustainability fee, or any other fee you enter risky territory. The representatives from Innkeeper Hospitality Services told me they remove the sustainability surcharge when an individual finds it objectionable and pay the assessment themselves. So, right off the bat you risk irking a certain percentage of your prospective customers. You also enter uncharted territory to some degree because most travelers have not heard of sustainability fees. Those willing to pay the fee may still be perplexed about it. One can also give the impression that your hotel or hotel company is not doing well enough to pay for the sustainability initiatives on its own—it needs the financial support of its guests to make the initiatives happen. Let’s face it, most hotels undertaking successful green initiatives use the money earned from room and other revenue streams, but they don’t ask for extra from their guests for them. Seeing the sustainability fee, might a prospective guest choose a comparable hotel across the street? One could make the case from a PR perspective that including such a fee is an opportunity to share one’s green story with one’s guests. I would argue there are many better ways to convey your green story. And you are entering a zone where your fee can hit the media and blogs for a good bashing.

Las Vegas hotels are notorious for adding fees on to a bill, but travelers have learned to expect it—grudgingly. At the end of the day, however, seeing any Marriott hotel—one representing a company with such a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility—tack on a sustainability fee is one difficult pill for me to swallow. (The company has been known to reveal fees at the last minute.)

I would love to read or hear your thoughts. I can be reached at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

Green Lodging News Adds Bradley Corp. Case Study to Its Website

Green Lodging News has added a Bradley Corp. case study to the Vendor Case Studies section of its website. The case study focuses on the renovation of the Atlantic City Boardwalk restrooms and the specification of Bradley’s all-in-one WashBar with touch-free soap, water, and hand dryer in one single chrome-plated component. The handwashing systems are featured in seven comfort stations along the Boardwalk, including both men’s and women’s restrooms, for a total of 14 bathrooms.

The WashBar’s integration of soap, water, and dryer into one sleek fixture eliminates deck and washroom clutter, said Austin Gerber, Senior Associate and Architect/Project Manager, SOSH Architects. “There was no need to map out separate spaces, hookups and wiring for individual soap dispensers, faucets and hand dryer components. Installation was also easy and straightforward.”

Sleek, elongated Verge basins made of non-porous Evero natural quartz were specified along with the WashBar.

Bradley’s innovative WashBar featuring touchless clean+rinse+dry technology streamlines usability without sacrificing aesthetics. The award-winning fixture invites users with its accessible, easy, and intuitive handwashing interaction. LED lighting and easy-to-identify icons on top of the WashBar guide handwashing while soap, water and dryer are all kept in close personal reach. Advanced sensing technology ensures that each clean, rinse or dry function will not accidentally activate a neighboring function.

To read the entire case study, click here.

Who is Your Sustainability Champion?

Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

Looking for Guest Columnists

Every two weeks Green Lodging News posts a new guest column on its website. (Click here for examples.) The guest column also appears in the weekly e-newsletter. Green Lodging News is currently in need of industry experts to contribute occasional guest columns. Experts may include consultants, architects, designers, suppliers, and those who own or operate green lodging establishments. Columns may be articles that take a stance on a particular subject or be strictly educational in nature. Columnists benefit by having their photo included along with a one paragraph description of their company. Interested in writing a column? Contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

Get in the Green Suppliers Spotlight!

Green Lodging News, lodging’s leading environmental news source, publishes Green Suppliers Spotlight, an e-blast to 22,451 subscribers that features the lodging industry’s leading green products and services. The e-blast features multiple vendors—unlike the current Green Supplier Spotlight that allows one supplier to “own” the Green Lodging News subscriber list for one e-blast. (Click here for a Green Suppliers Spotlight sample.)

Green Suppliers Spotlight is published weekly on Thursdays to general managers, owners, management companies, directors of sustainability, directors of engineering, facilities managers and many others who are either in purchasing positions or who influence purchasing decisions. Suppliers of green products and services throughout North America and beyond are invited to participate in the e-blast. (Minimum two suppliers per e-blast.) Green Suppliers Spotlight was created to give vendors an opportunity to reach a high number of industry purchasers at a very low cost—as low as $200 per e-mail. (Click here for rate sheet.)

Those advertising in Green Suppliers Spotlight can include up to 100 words, one image, contact information and multiple links to their website in their ad. At the end of each week, a report will be sent to each supplier with information on delivered e-mails, opens and click-throughs.

Planning Advertising for 2022?

Green Lodging News is accepting reservations for advertising spots for 2022. Many excellent spots are available on our website and in the weekly e-mail newsletter. Many Green Supplier Spotlight dates are also available. Interested in receiving a 2022 media kit? Be sure to contact me as soon as possible at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com. A media kit can also be accessed by clicking here. Thank you to all those companies that consistently support Green Lodging News.

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