28 Feb How to Make Green Work for You
A recent forecast of the top trends of 2011 identified three that directly impact the hospitality industry – travel, tourism, and green.
Green, or sustainability, often finds its way into yearly trend watches. With the high cost of oil and energy, and businesses and families looking to save money and find good value, sustainability is increasingly important to many consumers. This large and growing market segment is looking for like-minded businesses concerned with sustainability. In fact, in a recent survey by TripAdvisor, 47% of travelers take eco-friendly factors into consideration when searching for a hotel room. Put simply, sustainability matters to them, and businesses that don’t address this market are quickly going to find themselves missing out.
The New Sustainability
Today, sustainability is more than being “green.” The new focus is on sustainable profitability. The goal is to integrate sustainability to increase profit and build the business.
Some hotels already practice sustainable profitability. According to the USGBC, there are currently 40 LEED-certified hotels in America, with another 900 registered for LEED and working toward certification. It’s easy to start saving and improve profit with sustainability. For example, the Green Hotels Association explains a simple Hotel Energy Management Program can save a hotel more than $42,000 a year. A combination of energy-efficiency and waste reduction programs can deliver more than $100,000 in savings with minimal upfront costs. Organizations such as the Green Hotels Association (www.greenhotels.com) can quickly and easily help get you started.
[pullQuote position=”center”]Beware of “Greenwashing”
There is a backlash against businesses that overstate green accomplishments. This is known as Greenwashing. In your marketing, be honest, clear and specific on the steps you’ve taken to be more sustainable, and admit that it is part of an ongoing process. You’ll be better rewarded for honesty than exaggerated claims.[/pullQuote]
Maximizing the Benefit of Sustainability
Despite the obvious benefits of green practices, more than 50% of hotels in a recent AH&LA survey said that eco-friendly changes hadn’t yielded cost savings. More than 33% did see significant cost savings, while only 13% reported they had made no eco-friendly changes.
The key to benefiting from sustainability is to become disciplined in implementing changes, focus on positive guest experiences, develop a way to measure, track and report the effectiveness of your sustainability efforts, and make adjustments to your strategy as needed. Here are a few tips for maximizing your benefit from sustainability:
• Web Site and Social Media: Have a page dedicated to your sustainability efforts. Discuss sustainability through social media. Make sure there are links to reserving rooms on your page to attract travelers concerned with sustainability.
• Memberships: There are a number of reputable certification programs out there, including green lodging groups, that will build your credibility and offer free advice, tips, advertising and promotion.
• Track and Report: Changes in energy and water-use, and waste reduction, are all measurable. Compare past results to track positive financial gain. Share results with your staff to keep everyone motivated.
• Internal promotion: Hotel management must make sustainability a priority. Discuss the program, promote it with material in the lobby, elevator, and on key cards. Make the staff aware of your goals and program. This will help build your credibility and spread green awareness.
[pullQuote position=”center”]The Promise of LED
LED lighting is the most energy-efficient lighting alternative on the market, and is by far the most sustainable lighting option. Data from ENERGY STAR (a joint EPA and US Dept. of Energy project) show LED lamps are recyclable (no dangerous waste), use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Switching to LED will incur a cost, but hotels sometimes see an ROI within 6 months or less.[/pullQuote]
The benefits of going green are clear. According to the AH&LA, Hotels with a sustainability program see higher guest satisfaction scores and more engaged employees with less turnover. In addition, not only will it broaden your marketing potential and lower your energy costs (the second biggest expense for hotels), but it will increase the value of your property through lower utility costs per square foot. With a little effort and strategic planning, you can make going green work for you.