Sustainable Hotels: A Futuristic Outlook
By Lawrence Adams Principal, ForrestPerkins | March 02, 2014
The development of a number of major trends made 2013 a banner year for green hospitality. New interest in sustainable hotels prompted the debut of three annual green lodging conferences. Realization of the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit has fueled explosive growth of sustainable technology and practices. In this article, we will examine a number of rapidly developing trends that are leading hotel companies to increase their investments in environmental initiatives.
Millennials and Social Media
Millennial travelers, those between 18 and 30 years old, now represent a potential multi-billion dollar hospitality market and will continue to for the next 20 years. They are on a pace to surpass Baby Boomers to dominate business travel by the year 2030. Hotel companies, looking to capture a share of this immense new market, are looking for ways to cater to the needs and desires of this rapidly expanding segment. New hotel brands such as Aloft and Yotel provide features that appeal to the sensibilities of these young travelers including lobbies designed for social interaction and group work, kiosk check-in to bypass interaction with hotel staff, free WiFi, high-tech gadgetry and an experience of local culture and flavor. More than any other age group, Millennials are environmentally conscious and feel it is their social duty to contribute to the health of our planet. They believe strongly that it is a hotel's obligation to do the same and so they seek out properties that are eco-friendly or LEED certified. Through websites and social media, Millennials may check up to 10 or more sources before making their lodging selection. One such source, TripAdvisor.com, provides detailed feedback on a hotel's sustainability practices through its Green Leaders environmental rating program. Even though the US Green Building Council announced its long-awaited version of LEED certification tailored to hotels as a building type, with over 30 million hits a month on the TripAdvisor website, the Green Leaders Program is rapidly outpacing LEED certification in the hotel industry through its much broader reach to Millennials and the rest of the traveling public.
Corporations Go Green
While Millennials and other environmentally conscious travelers are starting to make lodging choices based on hotels' eco-friendly ratings, the current dominant driving force behind major hotel companies enacting mission statements that embrace sustainable practices are corporations such as IBM, Starbucks, Walt Disney, Dow Chemical, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Boeing. Many corporations like these now require their employees traveling on business to stay at green hotels. Many insist that conference center and convention hotels provide detailed accounts of their sustainability practices before booking meetings at these hotels. The World Environment Center (WEC) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to the principles of sustainable development. Its members, who include several of the corporations mentioned above, seek to partner with governments and non-government organizations in advancing a wide range of environmentally sustainable goals. Together with IBM, WEC formed the Innovations in Environmental Sustainability Council in order to support and encourage innovation in business process and technology for finding solutions to major sustainability challenges. Marriott International leads the council's efforts in finding innovative, beneficial solutions for the hospitality industry.