How Hotels Can Address the Detrimental Effects of Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

By Drew Hamilton Partner & Managing Director, Vivreau North America | May 27, 2018

Before we all knew better, there was the pervasive notion that drinking water was only good if it came from a far away land, bore a name requiring specific emphasis or the twist of the tongue, and was captured in plastic bottles drawn from a romanticized source with deep history. In a marketplace dominated by daunting global brands, the idea of bottling, purifying, and even potentially monetizing drinking water drawn from a hotel's own water main seemed downright unimaginable.

Such was the landscape of the North American market when Vivreau hit the scene with its call to bottle drinking water on premise by tapping into a hotel's water main and purifying what was already available in abundant supply. The general North American business climate was not quite ready to wholeheartedly embrace the idea, save for a handful of forward-thinking independent restaurateurs and one very notable industry category: hospitality.

While many consumers were unconsciously "contributing" to the scourge of single-use plastic water bottles in landfills across America, a massive change was afoot in the hotel world with global conservation initiatives (including responsible water consumption efforts) penetrating every aspect of the properties of select operators. Laundering reduction commitments, energy smart infrastructure, lower flow water appliances, ethical materials sourcing and material waste reduction efforts were already in progress with measurable goals by influential players in the hotel industry while many other sectors still regarded the triple bottom line (environment, economic, and social) paradigm shift with immobilizing scepticism.

Early Adopters. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that some of Vivreau Water's first clients were the progressively minded Operations Directors, Chief Engineers and bold GMs of hotels seeking to advance their brand's stewardship programs. It took a broader perspective in those days to apprehend the value of bottling your own water and, more importantly, it took a significant degree of courage to forfeit the proven revenues associated with well-known international bottled water brands in favour of an as-yet unproven concept that leveraged mains-fed, bottled-on-premise drinking water.

 It was really obvious from the beginning in North America in 2008, that hotel operators understood the importance, the benefits and need to adopt core sustainable practices like on-site water programs, it ultimately became a matter of 'how' to help them actually take the leap. Help create water programs with partners, not sell boxes (water machines), quickly became Vivreau's mantra.

 Some of those early adopters remain steadfast Vivreau clients today. In addition to significantly reducing their own (carbon) footprints, these clients have served as both champions of responsible water programs for their industry and sources of valuable data that shine a light on the power of an in-house water program, the merit of which is measureable across five major strategic pillars shared by virtually every hospitality brand in North America: Environmental Stewardship, Employee Health and Wellness, Brand Building, Revenue Generation, and Cost Savings.

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Coming up in April 2019...

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.