Protecting the Health of Your Guests

By Rani Bhattacharyya Community Economics Extension Educator , University of Minnesota Extension- Center for Community Vitality | December 11, 2011

The market availability of "eco" and "nature" friendly products and services has multiplied exponentially in the last five years. Unfortunately however, the benefits that these products and services, provide for both humans and the environment has only become more confusing as a result. To remedy this consumer product manufacturers, environmental labeling organizations, and a variety of public sector agencies over the last two years have been working very hard to build consensus behind the methods, terms and definitions being used to express the benefits resulting from sustainably designed products and services. While this effort is still very general within the mainstream consumer market, it can also help define and standardize how many of terms are also being used in the hospitality market as well.

In this article I will briefly review the public sectors role in championing the adoption and use of environmentally responsible purchasing as tool to 1) facilitate this standardization process, 2) protect vulnerable populations, and 3) promote and catalyze the country's transition to a green economy. I will also explain why these efforts can also help your property address the needs of health minded guests. In closing, I will also highlight a few product and service categories in which you and your purchasing agents will be able to find healthful and environmentally responsible products and services that can help your property protect the health of your guests.

Role of the Public Sector

We have been very successful in using scientific inquiry to learn more about the natural world and how human activity can influence and create hospitable conditions within it for our survival. This same curiosity however, over recent decades, has also lead us to question if these changes are in fact all positive over the long term survival of both humanity and the planet. In particular, extensive studies are now being conducted (par for course) to determine if the chemicals in the products we use on a daily basis are altering our basic biological functions. Since many of these studies are bringing to light evidence of toxic and harmful effects to our bodies, public agencies are now being tasked to limit how these chemicals are exposed to the population in general, and specifically to children and the elderly.

Since public agencies are also the largest institutional purchasers within any community, the most effective means by which they can proactively limit the use of harmful and hazardous chemical exposure (outside of cumbersome regulatory processes) has been to develop and implement specific purchasing guidelines and specifications for use with their service and product vendors. Many city, state and federal agencies have developed or are in the process of developing purchasing decision making polices that include exact specifications regarding the environmental and sometimes social performance of the companies they are willing to do business with. Initially, many of these policies were very selective and presented a local bias, but as more and more agencies are adopting such polices, they are learning from each other and from experience, as to which specifications really make a difference and which do not. The first few agencies to develop and adopt environmentally preferable purchasing polices (EPP) in the public sector were school systems and universities with active input from the families of their students. As the awareness within the educational industry spread in into other agencies and also into the US market, the economic significance of this new institutional purchasing behavior caught the attention of business facing administrators and developers as well.

In many cases, the implementation of environmentally preferable purchasing polices has proven to also be a boon for economic development as well by providing a new demand surplus for goods and services, that are scarce within the local economy. The result of this analysis by development professionals over the last decade has been additional refinement of the EPP model as an incentivizing tool when attracting (and retaining) larger businesses (including hotels and restaurants) with the community. The newest version of these EPP partnerships are now city, state and federal level programs that recognize the EPP efforts being made by large private sector institutional purchasers. The results of these recognition opportunities again are primarily preferential selection within an agency's own vendor selection process, but these benefits for program participants also now include reductions in development costs and taxation rates since "responsibility minded" business operators present a low risk investment opportunity for community's overall long term health.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.