The Business Case for Greening Your Property

By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | October 28, 2008

The biggest obstacle to greening the hospitality industry - that is, trying to make its operations (including purchases) more environmentally sustainable - appears to be its presumption that being green has no real business benefit. In previous articles in this series, we have made a number of points to show ways in which greening can increase business revenue and reduce costs, but a more formal business case still needs to be made. In this article, we will discuss why such a business case is needed; what does and does not constitute a business case for greening; efforts to date to make the case; and what still needs to be done.

Need for Business Case

We have spoken with several major hotel chains, and most of them question the value of commiting to sustainability in any major or public way without a demonstration that it will improve their business. One can show many examples of cost savings and potential market benefits, but what they typically want most to see is evidence of market demand for greening efforts on the part of their potential customers. And that is generally lacking in most geographic markets and market segments.

We have met and worked with management and staff in major chains who demonstrate genuine commitment to sustainability and may even know how to implement it in their properties from a technical or engineering perspective. Yet they confess that they cannot make headway in their company unless they have data to show their CEO or brand managers that there is real demand for the greening of their properties. Theirs is a plea, really, for the business case so they can get their top management to move in a sustainable direction.

What this means, essentially, is that sustainability has to be aligned with the rest of the hospitality business, combining toward a common goal both the tangible and the intangible aspects of the business. It will not suffice for greening to be seen as an outlier, an add-on, to the core business; instead, it must be intrinsic, even a critical component of that business. Such is the way some companies are embracing sustainability: as an integral part of their corporate ethos, identity, and behavior.

We have explored the theoretical and some practical bases for this integration in previous articles, including the way greening can ultimately be aligned with good business practices, such as effectiveness and efficiency. All that remains is to make the demonstration in persuasive, concrete terms in the language of the industry, with a focus on customer demand.

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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.