Keeping Your Hotel's Landscape Healthy and Safe on a Budget

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | May 28, 2017

Your hotel's landscape is responsible for making a first impression with your guests. Your landscape should be a reflection of your hotel's brand and should clearly demonstrate to your customers the type of experience you hope your property will deliver-relaxing, comfortable, safe, and fun. In other words, dedicating financial resources to landscaping and grounds keeping are more than worthwhile from an ROI perspective. Nevertheless, as any hotel executive knows, unforeseen circumstances often require difficult budget decisions. If you are forced to dedicate less budget and resources to your landscaping, follow these best practices to ensure that your landscape's health, aesthetics, and safety do not suffer.

Have a Clear Scope of Work (SOW)

Keeping your hotel's landscape healthy on a budget starts with having a clear scope of work (SOW) with your landscape company or grounds care company. The SOW should define all the landscape activities that will occur throughout the year. Typically it will include the core services – mowing, edging, leaf blowing, trimming etc. – plus additional select services to enhance and protect the property, like irrigation maintenance, fertilization and pest control, arbor care and tree maintenance, mulch replacement and replenishment, shrub fertilization and pest control, annual color rotations of flowers, etc.

It is important that budget planning is incorporated into the SOW. Hoteliers must consult with the hotel's landscape professional in order to plan ahead for the coming year and the longer term. Additionally, the grounds care or landscaping company needs to know about, and understand, the hotel's year-round landscape plan and overall budget in order to provide proper care; ensure the landscape's beauty, health, and safety; preserve the hotel's investment in the property; and safeguard the hotel's brand. It is a true partnership that develops over time, to the benefit of both the professional grounds care company and the hotel.

A professional grounds care company is a true partner to your hotel, so hoteliers should feel free to discuss these potentially cost-saving options with them. Just remember that your grounds keeper provides core services, the frequency of which shouldn't be adjusted, because they are preventative: they help you avoid major, unexpected expenses down the road. Select services, however, are optional and their frequency can be safely altered, helping you immediately save money. These services include the amount and type of materials like turf, flowers, trees, and shrubs.

Align Your SOW with Your Budget

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.