The hospitality industry has long had a reputation for being anything but green. Fortunately, recent small changes such as extended stay sheet changing policies and signs asking customers to reuse towels have begun to give hotels and inns the appearance of some green sense of responsibility. But unfortunately, many small hotels and independent chains are slow to recognize the value of sustainable, eco-friendly changes in today’s green focused economy.
How the Big Chains are Beating Small Hotels in the Race to Green It seems that large hotel chains are currently cornering the market on green tourism, both in big ways and small. Sure, some chains are going green right from the start by designing and building new locations that are full of energy efficient design and systems. And certainly any hotel looking at building new locations should consider LEED certification and other green building practices; while such building can cost more up front, most research indicates that in a few years an overall cost savings is realized. Of course, building big and green is not the only way to become more eco-friendly.
The large chains also seem to be taking more advantage of small changes, from making the switch to energy saving light bulbs to investing in employee training and education. Again, this is likely about money output – whether it is CFLs or LEDs, long lasting energy efficient lights do cost less in the long run. And, holding training sessions with your staff to explain the value of shutting off lights in unused areas and taking a few degrees off the air conditioning thermostat does cost a bit in payroll and perhaps the cost of an employee lunch or even a trainer. But what the large chains know is that these small investments are worth it, returning the money quickly, tenfold.
Picking Up the Gauntlet – How Small Hotels Can Regain Ground Today’s consumer – and traveler – is rapidly becoming more socially minded, particularly when it concerns green initiatives. People today are starting to think about green in their own lives, but even more so they are demanding green from the companies that serve them. Thus, for many travelers if faced with the decision between two hotels near each other with similar accommodations, they are likely to choose the one that can advertise their eco-conscious efforts, even if it costs a bit more. This is why small chains need to make some green changes.
Think of it as a call to arms in the battle for both business and to save the Earth. Independent hotels and small chains need to start developing a business plan that includes a move to green, even in small ways. Saving energy, conserving water, using healthful cleaning products, switching a pool filter to salt based – all of these small changes can give an independent hotel something to brag about and help differentiate them from the competition – or at least just keep up with it.
Making the Change and Seeing a Difference It is imperative that independent hotels and small chains start taking steps towards green sustainability immediately. In addition, it is important to advertise these changes. Once you have a green plan and begin making steps in the green direction spread the word. Post it on your website and in your hotel – in every room. Put in on the hotel channel on the room televisions. And perhaps most importantly, seek green certifications that can both validate and advertise your efforts.
Transparency is as important as the actual green action – go green, then tell the world. And remember that people love to see results in a meaningful way, so consider showcasing your results in a way that correlates them to something tangible, for example, explaining that your new water conservation policies save enough water each year for this many people to drink.