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Steve Kiesner

Energy conservation has always made good business sense. Now, with the nation's natural gas prices at or near record levels, it is imperative that hotel executives make sure they are getting the most value they can from every energy dollar. According to the latest data available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the nation's lodging industry annually spends over $5.5 billion for energy. Of that amount, 40 percent is for natural gas. For hotel executives, knowing how a hotel uses energy is the first step toward knowing where to start conserving. Water heating alone, for example, accounts for almost 40 percent of a hotel's total energy cost, and two thirds of its natural gas use. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

Electricity is there when you need it. And it has been this way for almost one hundred and twenty-five years, since Thomas Alva Edison developed the first practical electric light bulb and set off a revolution that changed virtually everything in our society. But electricity, and indeed all energy, is something we can't take for granted. Although most people think about electricity only when they flip on the light switch, the U.S. electric system consists of a massive, interconnected network of generating plants, transmission lines, and distribution facilities. Energy legislation is needed now to reinforce electric reliability, foster more efficient, competitive electric power markets, promote fuel diversity, and expand our energy supplies and production. At the same time, a national energy bill needs to stress efficiency and the wise use of existing resources. With electricity consumption expected to increase 49 percent between today and 2025, these supply and demand measures are the best long-term solutions for our energy future. Read on...

Tyler Tatum

I found a little secret about energy cost in your hotel rooms. Did you know that 30% of the energy cost in your property is used by your HVAC units? Did you know that you could reduce the energy consumption of your HVAC unit just be keeping it clean? Once clean, your guest complaints will go to zero, and you will be shocked at how many guests show up at your property. You may ask why I am so excited about this idea. First, I hate that moldy smell that hits me as I walk into the majority of the hotel rooms I have visited. Second, I am all for any idea that has a 6-month ROI on energy savings alone. Third, this solution cuts down severely on the amount of perfumes and chemicals used in the room. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

For the lodging industry, energy conservation is a well-recognized element in lowering costs. With energy typically accounting for three to five percent of a hotel's total operating expenses, getting the most value out of every energy dollar can improve profitability. A comprehensive plan can lower energy use by up to 20 percent. America's electric companies encourage you to explore new ways to use energy more wisely. Power companies are promoting the wise use of electricity because it benefits hotels and all their customers. They are also doing so because it helps electric generating plants and transmission wires to operate more effectively. This can improve the reliability of electricity supplies, especially during peak electricity demand periods such as the summertime. Encouraging the efficient use of electricity also helps the power company to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. Many energy-saving measures cost little or nothing. But the returns could surprise you. Here are some easy-to-implement tips that can be put in use today... Read on...

Arthur Weissman

Becoming green is not a one-time thing: it requires a concerted effort over time from a number of people and departments. This article will outline some recent trends in developing an environmentally responsible corporate policy, the steps to build a green program in a property or group of properties, and information about what should be covered by written policies and procedures. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

In working with national lodging chains, I know that improving energy efficiency has long been a focus of the industry. Efforts have included simple measures, such as reminding guests to turn off lights, to more complex efforts, such as installing high-tech energy management systems and innovative heating and cooling systems. These efficiency actions have paid off in greater profitability. Energy typically accounts for three to five percent of a hotel's total operating expenses. The money saved through energy-efficiency has created more money to spend on guest amenities, on staff salary increases, or on other vital areas. What you may not know is that your energy-efficiency actions, and those by other businesses and consumers across the country, are part of the reason why the nation's air quality has been improving. A new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that overall air emissions nationwide have dropped by more than 50 percent since the Clean Air Act was adopted in 1970. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

Customer service. The hotel industry knows how important it is to exceed its customers' expectations every time they check in. For the nation's power industry, the same attitude holds true. Electric companies strive to provide their customers with affordable power every time they flip the switch. Two events in August-the well-publicized blackout and a less publicized environmental ruling-will both have a far-reaching impact on the ability of the power industry to serve its customers. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

Experts are predicting that last winter's record high prices for natural gas are likely to become the new baseline for the near future. In any event, high gas prices will likely pose a continuing challenge for the lodging industry and others that rely on gas to a large degree. According to the latest data available from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the lodging industry annually spends over $5.5 billion for energy. Of the total energy consumed, natural gas represents about 40 percent. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

Conserving natural resources and protecting the environment make good business sense. For the hotel industry, the recent efforts in many parts of the country to ask guests for their help in conserving water is a compelling example. Hotels that have done so have strengthened relations with their customers by creating a positive connection between the hotel industry and the environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), taking steps to conserve water throughout a hotel property can also cut water and sewer costs by up to 30 percent. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

When uncertainty develops in the nation's power industry, and it certainly has these past few years, the prospect of the local government taking over the power company is sometimes raised. Takeover proponents promise lower prices and greater reliability, questioning the local electric company's ability to deliver what hotels and other customers expect-a reliable and affordable electricity supply. But government takeovers aren't the answer. In the end, government takeovers of the local power company bring with them new risks and potential costs for hotel executives and all electricity customers. To assure your hotel of a competitively priced power supply that is there when you need it, we need a national approach that includes three elements... Read on...

Steve Kiesner

A significant change in the nation's electricity industry during the past five years revolves around who will supply your hotel with electricity. As with any change, how well your company responds will depend upon how well prepared it is. Competition, now that it is a reality, is here to stay. The U.S. Congress initially looked at mandating a specific date for all states to begin competing. Today, however, they are focusing their attention instead on the issues in the country's wholesale electricity markets that effect the success of competition at the state level. If your company has a hotel in an area that has adopted retail electricity competition or is considering it, how can you prepare for the change? Here are some suggestions. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

Electric company energy efficiency programs are familiar to many hotel executives. These can include incentives to purchase energy-efficient equipment and build energy-efficient facilities. The benefits extend to both your company and the electric utility industry. A closer look at some individual electric company incentive programs, and a glimpse at what the future may hold, will give you a better understanding of how to save energy and money in today's, and tomorrow's, energy markets. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

The extraordinary events that have rippled through the nation's electric power industry during the past few years have touched businesses and consumers alike. Electricity competition. Regional reliability concerns. Enron. In the hotel industry, perhaps the most visible impact has been the energy surcharge that many hotels placed on customer bills. Questions about the cost of power, and in some locations, even its availability, were two issues that caused turmoil for hotel guests and managers alike. Understanding where we are now, and what to expect down the road, will help hotel executives prepare an energy strategy to improve their profitability in the future. Read on...

Arthur Weissman

As a hotel executive, the last thing you may want to think about is whether your hotel is considered "green." You are worried about filling your rooms, satisfying your guests, and perhaps getting the big business of government and companies. But being designated as "green" can actually help you do all of these things: it can increase your room-nights, enhance your guests' satisfaction, and boost your business with big customers. This series will show you how. We begin by examining what it means for a hotel to be "green." The word is, of course, shorthand for being environmentally responsible (or sustainable) so as to minimize environmental impacts in purchasing, operations, and plant management. Read on...

Tyler Tatum

Part 2 - Leveraging your environmental policy in your marketing and sales efforts. You may not realize that a number of the initiatives you have started in your hotel in order to cut costs and survive during the last four tough years can actually be turned into marketing and sales tools. I am referring to everything you have pursued in order to reduce your waste, energy usage, and water usage. Many guests are currently looking for reasons to visit your property over the property next door. An increasing number of guests are looking for properties where they can feel their stay is in harmony with the environment. Just imagine if you could add 5% more loyal guests by publicizing your environmental efforts. Read on...

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.