Your Environmental Policy, An Untapped Asset (Part I)

By Tyler Tatum Marketing Strategy Consultant, | August 25, 2010

You may not realize that a number of the initiatives you have started in your hotel in order to cut costs and survive during the last four tough years can actually be turned into marketing and sales tools. I am referring to everything you have pursued in order to reduce your waste, energy usage, and water usage. Many guests are currently looking for reasons to visit your property over the property next door. An increasing number of guests are looking for properties where they can feel their stay is in harmony with the environment. Just imagine if you could add 5% more loyal guests by publicizing your environmental efforts.

It is important to take a minute to remember the recommendations put forth in Part 1 (Identifying and formulating your environmental policy). First, you need to form an environmental team in order to capitalize and expand upon your current environmental efforts. The team should include a minimum of one key decision maker within your organization.

Second, use tools available to you to help identify and increase your sustainable initiatives. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, or CERES, has a checklist called "The Best Practice Survey." The Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has a number of great tools listed on their site. The Energy Star program promoted through the EPA has a host of great tools and tips. Most states have an organization dedicated to reducing waste.

Third, use the many tools listed above and in Part 1 to identify ten or twenty initiatives you plan to pursue. Assign your team the task of finding which of these initiatives you are currently doing, and investigate which new ones make the most sense for your facility(ies) over the coming year. Next, analyze the savings and create a document demonstrating your return on investment, which will allow you not only to negotiate a budget for future projects, but also to illustrate the success of your efforts to your CFO or General Manager. Finally, once you have some initiatives implemented, write them down in a statement you can present to your guests with your environmental policy.

Now that you have your environmental policy written down, this article will guide you through ways in which you can increase the number of guests at your property(ies). First, let's take a moment to understand the current market for environmentally friendly products.

A Gallup poll conducted in March 2004 found that 55% of Americans expressed concern that the United States government is doing too little to protect the environment. Fifty-eight percent said they felt the environment was getting worse. Sixty-one percent qualified themselves as "Active participants" or "Sympathetic, but not active" towards environmental initiatives, and only five percent are "Unsympathetic" (http://www.gallup.com/poll/content/default.aspx?ci=5848).

Coming up in February 2018...

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.