Greening Your Full-service Hotel

By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010

So far in this series we have covered applications to spas, resorts, and conference centers. Now for the grand old staple - the full-service hotel - which we define for this discussion as a property with the following services: one or more restaurants, ample meeting space, business center, room service, fitness center, and other amenities as applicable (such as parking, visitor information, dry cleaning, etc.).

What characterizes full-service properties from a sustainability perspective compared to more limited-service properties is that, essentially, they have just more of the same. Except for restaurants, the additional facilities and equipment are similar to what most properties, however small, have in their guest rooms, lobby, and front office. The expanded dimension of full-service properties means more need - and opportunity - to apply energy- and water-saving operations, to eliminate waste and toxins, and generally to provide a healthful and vibrant guest environment.

Saving Energy and Water

More space in full-service properties will be available to guests almost any time of day or night, hence, this space will have to be lit and heated or cooled most of the time. It is imperative, therefore, that the most efficient lighting and heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems be installed in this space, and that proper maintenance be applied to ensure continued efficient operation.

Space that requires 24-hour lighting and space-conditioning should get first priority. High efficacy lighting such as compact fluorescent lamps, low-mercury and low wattage linear fluorescent lamps, and emerging LED lamps should be installed and maintained in this space. Special attention should be given to HVAC levels to ensure both reasonable comfort in these zones and efficient operation; proper humidity, temperature, and ventilation levels will keep common areas comfortable while saving a lot of money.

It is almost as important to install occupancy sensors in the less-used public spaces such as meeting rooms and back hallways. In this way, space can be readily available for guests but will not be wastefully maintained as if fully occupied all the time. Energy-management systems can also adjust lighting and HVAC operation according to daily schedules and, for example, reduce the number of lights illuminated in certain passages in low-use periods.

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Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.