Hotel Gardening: Tips to Keep the Green in Your Lawn and Wallet

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | May 12, 2013

In today's economy, staying within budget while keeping a landscape looking beautiful can seem impossible. But a healthy, attractive landscape does not have to break the bank. Making smart choices, such as conserving water through efficient irrigation systems and tailoring a scope of work specific to the needs of a hotel property can help cut costs in the long term. Also, taking easy, extra steps to maintain the health of plants will lessen the likelihood that landscape renovation will be necessary. By utilizing the tips below, a hotel owner or manager can help preserve a healthy landscape that retains its maximum value while generating cost savings over the long-run. Keys to achieving a desired result rely in having an acute sense of awareness and understanding of the needs of a landscape and partnering with the right commercial landscape management professional.

Water Conservation

Wasted water is wasted money. With water demands rising and frequent droughts threatening supply, responsible water use is a smart business practice and an essential component of environmentalism. Irrigation audits are one way to ensure that a hotel property is realizing the maximum benefits of its irrigation system. After assessing a hotel's current irrigation system and identifying any inefficient components, a landscape professional will consider the area size, local climate, sun exposure and specific plant varieties in determining the most appropriate and cost-effective irrigation program for a property. Tailored systems cut annual water costs significantly and some systems even qualify for tax credits. Investment in an irrigation audit and implementation of the proper system are effective ways to maintain a beautiful landscape without draining unnecessary natural and fiscal resources.

Sufficient hydration is key to maintaining the health and appearance of a property's landscape. There have been significant developments in irrigation technology, which allows landscape professionals to design customized systems. Because these systems are based on a particular property's needs, they will produce not only reduced water usage, but lower ongoing maintenance expenses.

The "smart" controller is the most technologically advanced development in water conservation on the market today. Regardless of how efficient an irrigation controller's watering schedule is, it must respond to the always-changing weather conditions-specifically rainfall and evapotranspiration (ET)-to protect the health of the landscape and gain maximum efficiencies. ET is the amount of water lost from the soil through evaporation plus the plant's water loss (known as transpiration); both are dramatically affected by weather conditions. A smart controller uses current weather and ET information to water a landscape only when needed. Smart controller systems work with virtually any controller, converting a conventional irrigation system into one that is weather-smart and self-adjusts according to accurate real-time weather data. As the weather changes, a smart controller receives automatic hourly updates and prevents the controller from watering unless needed. This results in significant water savings and a healthier landscape.

For those who want to stay on the cutting edge of water conservation technology, the answer may be investing in moisture sensors. Moisture sensors are designed to detect the moisture levels in the soil, making it the most efficient method of watering. Moisture sensors will continuously measure soil and only allow a watering cycle when the moisture drops below a certain, customized, threshold. So while a "smart" controller that measures rainfall may still allow a watering cycle the day of or the day after a rain storm, regardless of rainfall amounts, a moisture sensor will accurately read the moisture level in the soil and will keep the watering system turned off until the excess moisture has dissipated. The biggest detractor of these moisture sensors are the initial purchase and installation costs; however, due to their extremely efficient ability to determine how much moisture is in the soil and how often watering is needed to maintain a beautiful landscape, they pay for themselves, saving precious dollars on water bills.

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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.