IAQ to ROI: How Healthy, Sustainable Materials and FF&E Selection Pays Off

By Joshua Zinder, AIA Principal, JZA+D | May 26, 2013

We are a transient society. Whether for business or leisure, Americans spend a great deal of time on the road, in spite of the promises of the digital revolution. And we are not alone: while the U.S. Travel Association projects that total domestic travel will grow by 3% this year over 2012, international inbound travel is projected to grow 4.3%, with 7.1% growth in spending by these international travelers.

With so many of us spending an increasing number of nights away from home, it's only natural that we would want our hotels to feel like a home away from home, and more and more hotel patrons are factoring indoor air quality (IAQ) into their choices. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that clinics specializing in travel health find that as many as 25% of patron complaints are related to air quality. And because we now live in the Digital Age, unhappy guests can reach a virtually unlimited audience of potential guests with their complaints, by posting them as online reviews.

The fact is, environments matter to people, and hospitality venues need to meet their patrons' needs for healthy environments. Happily, many of the solutions to this challenge are low-cost and cost-effective, both for new facilities and those facing renovation.

Selection of finish materials, coatings, coverings, furniture and other equipment that create indoor environments have a substantial effect on IAQ. When poor choices are made in these areas, they can contribute more to poor air quality than mold or mildew. When properly specified, these elements can do more than sustain good IAQ: they can contribute to a hospitality venue's image and reputation as a green, sustainable business that cares about the environment, as well as providing a healthy environment for guests.

What's more, this can be achieved without sacrificing the aesthetic vision that the venue management strives for. Of course, many hotels are already environmentally aware, and have already taken steps to become more green, in both construction and operation. Note that this trend includes major chains and well-known brands like Wyndham and Marriott, and other brands that have chosen to make sustainability their hallmark, such as Starwood. The hospitality industry is already responding to the demand for healthier environments.

Defining Healthy Materials

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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.