Amenity Dispensers - A Tipping Point for the Lodging Industry

By Ray Burger Founder & President, Pineapple Hospitality | April 27, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors. As I recall, I was wandering around an airport one day with some free time (as a frequent flyer this happens on just about every trip) when I picked up a copy of The Tipping Point. After reading The Tipping Point it became imperative that I read Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. I have recently added David and Goliath to my "to read" list.

But, this isn't a book review. It's really a discussion about a Tipping Point that (in my humble opinion- IMHO) has been reached in the lodging industry. A definition for a Tipping Point is as follows: The point at which the buildup of minor incidents reaches a level that causes someone to do something they had formerly resisted.

Since about 1994 I have been extolling the virtues of using amenity dispensers in hotel guest rooms. You could call me the "Johnny Appleseed" of amenity dispensers. Until the last few years interest in amenity dispensers has been underwhelming. Some interest came from those that recognized the economic benefit. Some interest came from those that understood the environmental benefit and some came from those that understood both. Most of the interested hoteliers were independent hoteliers, boutique hoteliers, limited service and select service hotel owners, or national and state park lodging facilities.

Let's Examine Some of the Factors Contributing to this Tipping Point

1) Change

Let's face it, when times are good it is very easy to just keep doing things the way they have always been done. Since 1994 the lodging industry has been pretty robust with the exception of 2 recessions. (2001-2002 and 2008-2010) We have seen interest spike upward in amenity dispensers each time the economy trended downward. If the owner is happy with the financial results why rock the boat? Lately, a lot of owners are looking to save wherever possible and this includes amenities.

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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.