Your Environmental Policy, An Untapped Asset (Part I)
By Tyler Tatum Marketing Strategy Consultant, | August 25, 2010
You may not realize that a number of the initiatives you have started in your hotel in order to cut costs and survive during the last four tough years can actually be turned into marketing and sales tools. I am referring to everything you have pursued in order to reduce your waste, energy usage, and water usage. Many guests are currently looking for reasons to visit your property over the property next door. An increasing number of guests are looking for properties where they can feel their stay is in harmony with the environment. Just imagine if you could add 5% more loyal guests by publicizing your environmental efforts.
It is important to take a minute to remember the recommendations put forth in Part 1 (Identifying and formulating your environmental policy). First, you need to form an environmental team in order to capitalize and expand upon your current environmental efforts. The team should include a minimum of one key decision maker within your organization.
Second, use tools available to you to help identify and increase your sustainable initiatives. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, or CERES, has a checklist called "The Best Practice Survey." The Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has a number of great tools listed on their site. The Energy Star program promoted through the EPA has a host of great tools and tips. Most states have an organization dedicated to reducing waste.
Third, use the many tools listed above and in Part 1 to identify ten or twenty initiatives you plan to pursue. Assign your team the task of finding which of these initiatives you are currently doing, and investigate which new ones make the most sense for your facility(ies) over the coming year. Next, analyze the savings and create a document demonstrating your return on investment, which will allow you not only to negotiate a budget for future projects, but also to illustrate the success of your efforts to your CFO or General Manager. Finally, once you have some initiatives implemented, write them down in a statement you can present to your guests with your environmental policy.
Now that you have your environmental policy written down, this article will guide you through ways in which you can increase the number of guests at your property(ies). First, let's take a moment to understand the current market for environmentally friendly products.
A Gallup poll conducted in March 2004 found that 55% of Americans expressed concern that the United States government is doing too little to protect the environment. Fifty-eight percent said they felt the environment was getting worse. Sixty-one percent qualified themselves as "Active participants" or "Sympathetic, but not active" towards environmental initiatives, and only five percent are "Unsympathetic" (http://www.gallup.com/poll/content/default.aspx?ci=5848).