Hotel Sustainability: Measuring What You Value, Valuing What You Measure

By Rebecca Hawkins Managing Director, Responsible Hospitality Partnership | May 17, 2015

For many hotel businesses, measurement of energy, waste and water is a hit and miss affair. Those businesses that have developed effective procedures to 'hit' the resource measurement button have found that they can use their knowledge of resource consumption patterns to drive impressive cost and environmental savings. Those that have 'missed' have found their organizations mired in targets that cannot be met, staff who are not motivated and customers who are unconvinced by claims of sustainable practice.

There are a growing number of reasons that measurement really matters in the hyper competitive hotel environment. These inevitably include the need to continually review and reduce resource consumption, but they also extend way beyond the short term cost savings and into something that is far more significant to all businesses.

As Edelman demonstrate, measurement and management of environmental impacts can be fundamental to building trust in any brand (and we're not just talking about trust among those who are seeking green businesses but all consumers/stakeholders).

It is also increasingly being associated with great quality and authenticity in hotel environments (those who keep an eye on current trends will be all too well aware that authenticity is the Holy Grail for those hotels who are seeking to stand out from the crowd).

Within the 16 attributes that Edelman define as essential to building trust in a brand, they list 8 that have a broadly 'ethical or sustainable' dimension:

• Treats employees well
• Places customers ahead of profits
• Has ethical business practices
• Has transparent and open business practices (including reporting of results)
• Works to protect and improve the environment
• Addresses society's needs in its everyday business
• Creates programs that positively impact the local community
• Partners with NGOs, Governments and 3rd Parties to address societal needs
Source: Edelman Trust Barometer

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.