Going Green? Five Effective Practices That Don't Impede on Guest Convenience
By Jeff Slye Senior Consultant, Five Winds International | April 30, 2010
Anyone who has been in the hospitality industry for even a short period of time knows that virtually everything we do revolves around delivering the best guest experience possible. When we approach our businesses from this perspective and are effective at executing, the business is successful. This is no different when considering 'green' or eco related initiatives. Although there are some that still believe that 'greenies' will sacrifice comfort and convenience to stay in a 'green' hotel, the reality is that this is an extremely niche group. Most customers appreciate 'green,' but expect the same service and experience they've always received. As an illustration, a February 2010 survey by Whirlpool Corporation found the majority of consumers (68 percent) want to live "green" but only if it is convenient to their current lifestyle.
This sentiment of going green without sacrifice is echoed across all industries. As a result, hotel green initiatives must also find ways for supporting conservation at their properties and in a way that does not inconvenience the guest. For example, it is risky for a hotel to ask guests upon check-in if they would like to purchase a carbon off-set for their hotel stay. Although the spirit of the offer is appropriate in supporting a hotel's sustainability goals, that offer may cater to some guests and actually turn off others who don't want to be 'sold to' as they are checking in. The alternative approach would be to automatically make the guest's stay carbon neutral and would be more akin to the Steigenberger Hotel in Berlin that decided to make all its meetings carbon neutral.
Therefore, today's 'greening' efforts should be seamless or even enhance the customer experience. The good news is that today, more than ever, there are plenty of products and knowledge sharing around best practices that provide hotels with a long list of options to embrace in achieving this goal. Below are five items to consider.
1) Honor bar organic and healthy food and beverage options
Today there are many options to choose from including 'junk food' items that are made with organic and natural ingredients. Since 'junk food' is what really sells, finding alternatives is important. Steve Pinetti, SVP of Sales and Marketing from Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants and leader of their EarthCare initiative says, "Our EarthCare program from day one was designed to maintain and enhance the customer experience of our hotels. When we incorporated organic and healthy honor bar products such as Clif Bars, Organic Kettle Chips, and Dagoba chocolates, not only did it expand our own sustainability efforts, but it also deepened our connection with our guests and their sustainability values."
2) Forming an internal green committee