Linking Greenhouse Gas Reporting by Hotels to ROIs

By Rani Bhattacharyya Community Economics Extension Educator , University of Minnesota Extension- Center for Community Vitality | April 23, 2010

Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reporting in the hospitality industry can be difficult due to the current relationships between brands, franchises, and management companies. It is possible and more pressing however for individual property managers to incorporate GHG reporting and monitoring principles into their operations due to federal, state and local legislation coming into effect over the next eight months.

In this article I will try to provide a few reasons for why is GHG reporting is important for your property; a strategy for how to identify, and benchmark aspects of your operations where GHG metrics can be monitored; and examples of energy, water consumption, and waste diversion ROIs that hotels have already achieved through improving the environmental performance of their facilities.

GHG Legislation and Programs

While the GHG reporting can appear daunting and complex, properties located in the United States have a variety of reporting model options to use for monitoring GHG missions. Examples include: the National Guidelines from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. EPA Emission Inventory Improvement Program (EIIP), Regional and State defined GHG Inventories and registries; and the Cites for Climate Protection Project (CCP). Each of these programs serve as data aggregating and reporting tools concerning facility and building environmental performance by both the private and public sector organizations. While all of the programs do report on carbon dioxide emissions, it's important to note that the National Guidelines and framework outlined by the IPCC report on the broadest range of emission gases including: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA) in September of last year now requires any company emitting 25,000 tons per year or more of GHG's to submit their first emissions report to the U.S. EPA beginning in 2011. In addition to this federal mandate, 19 states have adopted mandatory reporting requirements for companies operating within their jurisdictions and 22 other states manage or endorse voluntary reporting programs.

Once you've determined if your property is required to comply with the CAA or with any local program; it's also important to keep in mind your market position when making your GHG reporting model decision. First, identify where your primary competitors are located; are they within your city, state, region or global? The second step is to then identify where your stakeholders and target markets are located; are they in the same geographic regions as your competitors or in a different geographic area? Answering these questions can help identify what geographic scope of reporting works best with your current business model and market positioning.

After identifying the geographic scope of your intended market, choose a GHG reporting program that is based on the same geographic area of your target market. This will help make your benchmarking and reporting more accurate, and comparable to your competitors. The third step (if the option is open to you); is then to decide if your management team would like to work with a GHG inventory program or registry. GHG Inventories function operate on accounting practices outlined by the IPCC and EIIP guidelines and are used to generate statistical reports on GHG performance for specific geographical regions over specific time periods. GHG Registries differ in that they are designed to allow for reporting on a project or company level by members and they can also require voluntary or mandatory participation depending on the registry's mission.

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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.