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 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.