“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” - Ban Ki-Moon
The Hotel Industry seems to have taken good inspiration from Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s words of wisdom. Recent years have shown the Hotel industry trying to "green up" its operations, but the real question is, has this “Operation Green” gone beyond leaving out little cards to encourage guest reuse towels and linens?
Hotels and hotel chains are taking sustainability more seriously, those little cards may seem like token environmentalism to some, but they can actually result in significant water, waste and cost reductions. The website Economically Sound reports that a 150-room hotel can conserve 72,000 gallons of water and 480 gallons of laundry soap every year by placing the cards in its guest rooms.
In another initiative, the industry has also started with a new concept called the Green Hotels. Green hotels are basically lodging properties that implement environmentally friendly practices and programs to save water and energy while reducing solid waste. The goal for green lodging properties is to minimize their impact on the environment.
The relevance of being green in hospitality is growing – introducing and implementing green practices to save water, conserve energy, and reduce waste, with the added benefit of decreasing overall operating costs. The significant savings yielded can be applied to enriching the quality of guests’ hotel experience.
Do eco-conscious hotels appeal to travelers?
Environmental initiatives are not just the ‘good’ thing to do – but have business-building power by positively driving the decision-making of consumers about where to spend their money. A key element to ensure success with the roll-out of green practices is thorough education of hotel staff, from management through all departments in the organization. It is empowering when employees play a role in assisting the hotel fulfill its eco-conscious mission. Making a mindset of sustainability-consciousness part of the business culture is a reflection of a hotel’s commitment to corporate social responsible.
Few green practices that the Hotel Industry has adopted are as follows:
· Biodegradable 100% recycled room keys
· Carbon Neutral and Hybrid vehicle/transportation service upon request with Concierge Services
· Bed linens changed upon guest request to aid in water and energy conservation efforts
· Towels replaced upon guest request allowing guests the option of re-using existing towels
· All light panels in meeting rooms are allow users to select the most efficient setting based on the event
· Food not consumed for meetings is provided to hotel associates free of charge or donated to local charities
· Local and organic food products are offered (options are limited due to short growing season) limiting carbon offset for shipping
· Electronic thermostats in guestrooms with pre-set settings to minimize energy consumption
· Biodegradable gift/amenity bags are used
Tom Brokaw, a famous American television journalist once said, “It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference,” and the Hotel Industry seems to be coming around the idea just fine.
- Ms. Bindu Menon
Senior Faculty, INLEAD
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