The Importance of Green Tourism; Investing In Our Future

By Sir Royston Hopkin Owner & Chairman, Spice Island Beach Resort | May 11, 2014

As a hotelier, I attend a lot of industry conferences which afford me the benefit of experiencing many other hotels throughout the Caribbean, Europe and North America. This allows me to experience hospitality from the other side, which lends insight into hotel practices that work, and even more importantly, those to avoid at my own property.

Check-in lines, for example, are something we’ve done away with entirely, ensuring guests are able to relax from the moment guests arrive on property. Nonetheless, I often find myself waiting in line to check-in, and recall a particular instance where the guest in front of me complained about the hotel’s lax environmental policy.

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“How is my willingness to reuse a towel minimizing your impact on the environment?” repeated the now irate guest, demanding details on the hotel’s water and energy policies. The visibly embarrassed front desk clerk stumbled on his words and was clearly unprepared to respond beyond vague assurances that the property was green friendly.

This was many years ago and this guest, with whom I later had an opportunity to chat up by the bar, may have been ahead of his time as most of his peers seemed content to trust the hotel’s marketing without inquiring into the specifics. It was a valuable lesson that I took back home to my Green Globe Certified resort, where I had implemented one of the most comprehensive environmental programs in the Caribbean, but had done little to educate guests on what we do and why we do it.

That is why we now put much emphasis on empowering each employee as an “environmental agent” by providing them with the necessary training and education on the resort’s environmental practices, policies and objectives. This way, not only are they prepared to advise our guests on the benefits of our green practices, they are also more adept at carrying out our eco-friendly initiatives. Beyond that, the knowledge and practices our employees learn at the resort extend to our local communities throughout Grenada as they get involved in Church activities and other community groups where they are able to pass on some of the techniques we use, such as creating compost gardens at home and inspiring others to do the same. This is how movements start, and while environmental consciousness didn't begin here at Spice Island Beach Resort, it fills me with tremendous pride to have had such a profound impact within Grenada and the region as a whole.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.