Reduce Energy Costs While Increasing Environmental Sustainability

By Rowan Sanders Director of Marketing & Communications, Veolia Energy North America | June 10, 2012

Everyone in the hospitality industry understands that guest satisfaction is the number one priority and keeping guests happy requires a high level of service and comfort, which typically means consuming a high level of energy. And with energy costs at an all-time high during a difficult economy, hotels are facing the pressure of balancing the guest experience with the need to implement facility-wide energy saving measures.

To illustrate these costs further, according to the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA), the hospitality industry spends $3.7 billion a year on energy (see sidebar for other hotel energy use facts). According to the ENERGY STAR program, America's 47,000 hotels spend $2,196 per available room each year on energy, representing about six percent of all operating costs. The good news is that there are a number of green facility management measures that hotels, resorts and destinations can implement to dramatically reduce energy use and utility bills, helping to limit greenhouse gas emissions and preserve the environment all while improving the guest experience.

Energy efficiency can improve the service of capital equipment, enhance guest comfort, and demonstrates a commitment to climate stewardship. Hotels, especially full-service facilities, have a wide array of energy uses and a correspondingly wide array of savings possibilities. From lighting to cooling to cooking, even small steps can help save money and the environment.

Green Facility Operation and Management

Hotels operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, hosting guests and offering various services and amenities. As a result, building upgrades can be especially difficult to implement as any downtime or disruption in hotels can negatively impact the guest experience and the bottom line. Measures that are effective in other settings, such as occupancy sensing, time-clock control, and thermostat setbacks, must be implemented with great care in a hotel so as not to detract from the experience of guests.
Nevertheless, the impact of rising energy costs (hotel utility costs have increased by an annual average of 12 percent in recent years) continues to lead hotel operators to actively identify greener facility operations and management techniques.

There are a number of low-cost measures that should be taken when it comes to optimizing facility operations and energy management. Simple, high-impact adjustments for hotel facilities can include installing energy-efficient lighting systems; swapping inefficient incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs; replacing neon signs with light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs; installing occupancy sensors on lighting and HVAC systems in back-of-house spaces, meeting rooms, and other low-traffic areas; installing high-efficiency air conditioning units; and adding attic insulation to older facilities.

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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.