Nine Green Must-Dos to Place Your Hotel Ahead of the Curve

By Eric Ricaurte Principal, Greenview | May 21, 2017

In 2011, we visited the 10 hotels contracted in the room block for the Greenbuild conference in Toronto. As part of their award-winning sustainable event program, the conference organizers embedded green practices into the contract language for these hotels, who either had to comply with the requirements, explain their reason why they couldn’t implement them, or pay a $1, 000 fine. Part of our consulting work was to gather the data and confirm some of the practices on-site.

Greenbuild was a pioneer in adapting the “supply chain evaluation” to hotels, because we all know the more you just ask the question, the more hotels start saying customers are asking for green. And embedding in the contract language also pioneered the “comply-or-explain” approach to sustainability, which at a corporate level is now a major global trend across stock exchanges and government regulators today for disclosing environmental, social, and governance performance. The premise is that although technically you’re not required to communicate your efforts and programs, you’ll have to tell the world why you’re not, and everyone can see whether your peers are besting you. I saw this work in practice during those Toronto hotel walk throughs.

The contracted green practices were fairly basic, such as having a linen/towel reuse program, having energy efficient lighting and water-saving fixtures, recycling, donating leftover food, donating used bathroom amenities, and that newspapers shouldn’t be delivered to every guest room by default.

That last one was particularly interesting. First, because this was 2011 when it was still common to read printed news, and second, because the amount of paper waste generated from discarded newspapers in hotels was astonishing ( and costly ). The 10 contracted hotels were from diverse brands, and all generally from upscale to luxury segments. In collecting the initial data 9 out of the 10 hotels indicated compliance with this one. One did not. When we discussed this with the property as to why they could not comply, they said it was their policy ( i.e. SOP ) to do so, and they had a contract with the vendor to provide the newspapers.

However, the sales manager perked up when I told her that they were the only hotel out of the 10 in the room block that was still delivering newspapers by default. A month later when doing final data compilation, the hotel sent me an email saying that after that feedback from the conference, they had changed their policy and were no longer delivering newspapers to every guest room automatically ( because of course there are options such as placing them at the front desk, on floors by the elevators, or informing guests that they can request one to be sent up ).

From this experience, it dawned on me that as an industry we could add more sustainability to our benchmarking, as we benchmark the comp set for other hotel amenity and service attributes, not to mention the love we have for ADR, occupancy, and all that flows from it. Thus, our quest for hotel sustainability benchmarking began. In the years since, we’ve worked with the big support of hotel chains to push this concept forward, now benchmarking sustainable practices and performance across thousands of hotels worldwide through various initiatives. One of which, the Green Lodging Trends Report published in partnership with Green Lodging News every year, provides the empirical results for this article’s title. Through this free benchmarking exercise, hotels can see how they compare among trends in over 100 best practices. As an example, it’s my pleasure to alert the small percentage ( less than 10-25% ) of hotels benchmarked that still haven’t implemented these nine below.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Joey Yanire
Scott  Watson
Banks Brown
Jerome G. Grzeca
David C. Marr
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.