Green Hotel Amenities on the Rise

By Michelle Millar Assistant Professor Hospitality Management, University of San Francisco | May 13, 2012

As hotels continue to add green services and practices to their operations, hotels guests are taking note. In fact, more than ever, travelers consider themselves environmentally conscious and are seeking hotel products that meet their personal values about protecting the environment. A hotel that provides green services to guests is in line with those same values. Green services may include linen re-use practices, eco-friendly activities, or extensive recycling policies, to name a few. Another growing part of that equation, however, is green amenities in the guest bathroom. Green amenities are now on the top of many hotels’ green to-do list.

Hotel Amenities

While guests expect certain amenities in their hotel rooms, more and more of them are also demanding that the amenities are green. Amenities include those little extras that hotels provide, but green amenities are created with a focus on some aspect of protecting the environment, or, at the very least, causing less harm to the environment. Hotels are meeting the demand for green amenities by providing linen and towel reuse policies, which have become the norm for most hotels; recycling bins in the guest room, compact fluorescent or LED lighting, and low-flow water fixtures. Other green services might include food that is purchased locally, or local activities that are geared towards the environment. In addition, what is becoming more prominent in hotel rooms today, are other in-room amenities that are meant to both reduce waste, and minimize the negative impact they may have on the environment.

When traveling, hotel guests like and expect amenities in their rooms, especially those that sit on the bathroom vanity. Travelers have come to expect them even when staying at budget hotels. At the very minimum they expect a bar of soap. At the other extreme, when staying at luxury properties, they expect luxury bathroom amenities, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, mouthwash, sewing kits, shower caps, and more. The problem with such amenities, however, is that they can create a lot of waste. More waste not only adds to the ever-growing landfills, but it translates to higher trash removal costs, and also makes it difficult for hotels to meet green standards they may have set for themselves.

Recycled Amenities?

Partially used bottles of shampoo, or partially used bars of soap, cannot be redistributed to guests and therefore are thrown away. To help avoid the amount of waste going into the landfill, hotels may choose to donate leftover soaps and shampoos. In some instances, hotels can donate these unused products to companies that will sterilize and distribute them to homeless shelters, or send them to other parts of the world to those that are in need of such amenities. For example, Clean the World accepts partially used bars of soap that they then sterilize and send to communities around the world. They recently shipped over 10,000 pounds of soap to Stop Hunger Now, who will include the soap bars in hygiene packets sent to Kenya and other countries. However, that is only possible if there are resources in a hotel’s community that can provide those services. So, the partially used items get thrown away, thus adding to the waste stream. What is a hotel to do?

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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.