Connect Your Guests With Your Sustainable Initiatives

Travelers receive a memorable experience, and by doing so helps preserve the destination

By Rauni Kew Public Relations & Green Program Manager, Inn by the Sea | April 27, 2014

Sustainability is a prerequisite for the continued growth and profitability of the hospitality industry. Most hotel companies today have integrated operational practices to reduce their carbon footprint, realizing economic and marketing benefits. Efforts to reduce water, waste, energy and chemicals are now an industry standard. However, for long and short term financial success the industry needs to go beyond these reductions and create sustainable initiatives and programs that support and preserve local communities and traditions, and regional icons as well as the natural environment.

Lodging properties committed to sustainability on all levels can provide todayís guests with the unique, localized travel experiences they want, while supporting local economies, now and in the future. Surveys show travelers today prefer green businesses. To be truly sustainable a business must support their surrounding communities and celebrate and preserve the uniqueness or heritage of the destination as well as the environment. Vendors who collaborate with hotels to offer guests an authentic local travel experience and benefit economically and are more likely to also take an interest in preserving regional icons or cultural traditions for future generations.

Travelers are more informed about green travel alternatives and there has been a consumer shift toward making what is understood as the responsible choice. According to Travelocity, in 2010, in the first quarter after the launch of their green hotel website, bookings for green hotels were 65% higher than for their non green counterparts.

Trip-advisorís 2012 eco-friendly travel survey of more than 700 U.S. travelers stated 71% of travelers plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months, and 41% percent would believe a hotel's claim to be eco-friendly if they experienced or witnessed green practices first hand.

"Green initiatives are an increasing priority for hospitality businesses that are trying to reduce their environmental footprint," said Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel for TripAdvisor. "Our survey shows that TripAdvisor travelers are interested in eco-friendly practices, but hungry for more information about which green plans and policies are actually in place."

Green Certifications can help inform guests about propertiesí green policies if they choose to research them. However, with the proliferation of global certifications very few are recognized by travelers. With over 350 different certifications available to travel and tourism operators it is no wonder that knowledge of a propertiesí third party verification rarely educates or creates an emotional connection between the guest and the location. Why not inform a guest of your commitment to sustainability by immersing the traveler in a sustainable hotel program that adds value to their visit and exposes them to insights only that very location can share. By exposing a guest to the soul of the region with rich, memorable experiences that are unique to that destination, the traveler can also gain an understanding of that propertyís support for their community and regional heritage.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.