Green DUI: Developers Under the Influence

By Larry K. Kimball Director of Hotel Development, C. W. Clark, Inc. | February 12, 2010

Being under the influence is serious business but it seemed like a good idea at the time, your Honor! Just ignore the global excitement to protect the planet and simply avoid "green" themes in new hotel projects. It is only the latest trendy hotel fad, right? Wrong, your green future is now. The major brands are going about it differently but all have evolving sustainability and environmental initiatives. Like the lovely Hotel California where you check-in but can never check out, make more room in rehab because hotel developers without green-colored glasses are on the road to making impaired decisions.

Is Kermit Really Green?

Since overused words like "sustainability" and "green" mean different things to different people is their impact diluted and not relevant? Does it matter whether or not that you believe climate change is manmade and the result of excessive use of fossil fuels? The answer to both questions above is no. Personal opinion should be set aside as hotel developers are mistaken if they think green, whatever that is, can be ignored.

Individual emotional resonance to be "green" is growing (no pun intended) into a shared global experience as evidenced by the following recent new items:

  • In the U.K., an executive won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs(1).
  • The European Union recently issued four warnings against Bulgaria for not protecting its national heritage largely because of the country's lack of environmental awareness evidenced by their "failure to bring Bulgarian nature legislation fully in line with European requirements.(2)" Bonus Travel Fact: The EU believes Bulgaria is home to 40 percent of Europe's protected habitats and almost 70 percent of its protected bird species.
  • In the U.S., a consortium is developing Green Meeting and Events Voluntary Standards which will eventually be submitted for approval to standards-setting ASTM International and thereafter influence billions of dollars of meetings business.
  • In 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) held its first-ever Sustainable Suite Design Competition which drew 65 contestants. The winning suite concept: "Haptik offers a multi-sensory lifestyle based on luxurious sustainability. The ethos is choreographed around individual moments that stimulate and inspire."

As Kermit said, "When green is all there is to be, it can make you wonder why, but why wonder? (3)"

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.