Why Energy Efficiency is More Important Than Ever

By James Gieselman Principal, Servidyne | May 07, 2017

The generally accepted definition of sustainable operations is our using of resources such that we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Certainly energy is chief among those resources that we are encouraged to use sustainably.

In an article by Climate Progress, Why Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important Fuel We Didn't Know We Had (Sept, 2014), the author begins by pointing out that "energy efficiency has graduated from the 'hidden fuel' to the 'first fuel.'" His meaning should be clear: while energy efficiency has played an important role in the past, its value to society has been severely under-appreciated. Its importance has been underestimated as well.

An earlier McKinsey report notes that through energy efficiency improvements alone the United States could meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by the year 2020. Energy efficiency, then, should be regarded as a primary vehicle on the road toward sustainability.

Step up to the Plate

How does one begin the quest for energy efficiency? The very first step is to determine how far behind the efficiency curve your property really is. (You may discover that you're actually ahead of the pack.) The best metric for determining where you stand is your hotel's energy use intensity (EUI). This is simply a measure of how much total energy your property used per square foot over the course of a year. The units in the United States are kBtu per square foot per year; overseas it is typically kWh per square meter per year. The U.S. EPA estimates that the median EUI for domestic hotels is 187 kBtu/sf/yr.

Obviously there is much built into this number: location, property size, hotel type, laundry on site, indoor pool, etc. All of these variables have an effect on energy consumption, so using only this metric absent any qualifiers isn't optimum. Rather, using a tool like the EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager will take into consideration those parameters and others to measure your energy consumption on an equal footing with other hotels. Today over 10,000 hotels use Portfolio Manager's benchmarking function.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.