Thursday, March 20, 2014

Many Shades of Green - Part 2

Our first Many Shades of Green blog shared no/low cost ideas to help you get started on the journey to greening your lodging property. If you now have a Green Team in place and made an investment in a little staff training; you can see that developing a green policy wasn't that difficult.  In fact, you’re undoubtedly curious about additional ways to be kind to both your bottom line and Mother Nature!  

May we suggest; to start on Part 2 of your Shades of Green journey first you need to take a walk.  
That’s right. With your Green Team take a walk around your property. Let them individually point out possible areas for improvements.  Listen to your staff. Their insight will be valuable in creating employee engagement and in implementing improvements. Be careful not to blame or point out a person who might be at fault. Remember that as Jeffrey Liker in his book, The Toyota Way, states, “It is the people who do the work who can improve the work.”   

HG has a Walk Thru Assessment Guide Book that helps staff define, find and prioritize areas for improvements. The guide is an easy to follow series of check lists that quantify and evaluate sustainable water, energy, waste, and purchasing practices and systems throughout a property. If nothing else, take notes as you see areas for improvements.    

It is easier to make improvements if you have a guide to follow. We recommend using either Trip Advisors Green Leaders Survey or HG’s Green Concierge (GC) Certification Standards? Either of these will give you a point at which to begin and a matrix for improvements.  TA’s Survey and the GC Certification Standards provide a comprehensive guide for looking at water, energy, waste, purchasing, employee and customer engagement, and policy improvements.

#2 the Employee Assessment
Assign members of your Green Team to assess and evaluate improvements in areas of your property where they spend most of their time working. Administration employees are best suited to improve practices within their area. Other team members and outside expertise can be brought on once the original employee assessment has been completed. By engaging the employees first, you will find that they are much more willing to accept modifications and changes, both large and small to products and systems. They initiate the change by conducting the walk thru assessment.

#3 Evaluating the Assessment
Before investing in costly upgrades and new products, first address all maintenance issues that you haven’t already done. More importantly make sure that employees are assigned to areas of maintenance that needed improvement. Add items to housekeeping’s check list like setting back thermostats and checking for leaking faucets.  How often and who is assigned to cleaning all sconces and hall lights? Who checks for water leaks in the property system and how often?  There are numerous areas that can save money and improve the overall appearance of a property.  Guests notice leaky faucets and stained and dirty fixtures. Work through each maintenance item and create check lists or assign people to each task.

#4  Track Energy Use
Do you know how much energy you use? Free on-line tracking tools such as the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager make it simple to manage your energy and water use.  All you need to get started are your most recent energy bills and basic information about your building(s).  Within a few months of tracking you’ll see patterns of energy waste that can be corrected quickly and easily.  Reducing energy consumption will not only result in significantly reduced operating costs but will also lead to safer conditions for your staff and guests

#5 Track and Record your Waste and Purchasing Inventories
Even if it is not scientifically perfect, you need to at least estimate how much garbage and recycling is being collected. HG has a Resource Tracking Tool available for use that allows you to track everything from small containers to rolls offs. Read your bills and see if tonnage is provided. If not, how big is your dumpster or are they toters? Start with at least a decent estimate of what you are doing right now. How else can you make and manage improvements? “You can’t manage what you can’t measure….” Peter Drucker

#6 Evaluate your Cleaning Program
Start small by examining the cleaning products used by housekeeping.  The most successful green cleaning programs combine both green cleaning products and high performance cleaning equipment.  Rely on your third party certifiers, Green Seal and Eco-Logo for green validation. These certifiers have an in depth understanding of the federal regulations for chemical compounds. Let their chemists do the work for you. Remember to evaluate your cleaning equipment. Training will need to take place when adopting new products and procedures.

With input from your staff, data on current resource use, basic maintenance issues assigned, you are now ready to make decisions on new products, and systems.

#7- Approach all upgrades comprehensively
·         Utilize the services of good energy consultants who will pair state incentive programs to their services. A good resource for state energy incentives for energy efficiency upgrades and the installation of renewable energy systems is  Before making major upgrades or re-lamping the property, seek the advice of a lighting consultant who is familiar with  new products and potential state and federal incentives.  Speak to your energy consultant and ask for a few referrals. Today it is more than changing a bulb. Many of these services are free and or required for incentive programs. Don’t just purchase from a catalog. Before making any purchase, make sure that the lamps and fixtures are compatible.  Use the services of a reputable licensed service provider.

·         Work with cleaning product providers who will test product with you and provide staff training. Buying off the shelf from your local food co-op or a big box store is throwing money out the door.

·         Consider working with a consultant to evaluate and modify energy, waste and water contracts. This is money well spent. Often their contracts are based on the savings that they are able to provide through contract re-negotiation.   

#8 – Let your guests know that you are “Going Green”
By making outward guest sensitive improvements first, guests will readily see them. Your return guests can be involved in the process. If done with authenticity and comprehensively, Going Green can:
·         Solidify your credibility as a green lodging property
·         Increase tourism revenue
·         Engage your employees
·         Decrease operating costs
·         Increase financial returns.

Economic and environmental sustainability can easily be achieved by recognizing and applying the Many Shades of Green!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Many Shades of Green

Running a “green” hotel – sounds daunting, doesn't it?  As hoteliers we have enough to do.  Running multiple venues across the property, managing staff, dealing with maintenance issues plus the all-consuming, relentless struggle to keep guests happy.  Who has the time or resources to implement an environmentally responsible green program?!

Actually, it’s not as hard as one might think.  In fact, even just a few no cost/low cost changes can result in cost-savings and favorable guest reviews, which gives you an edge in a very competitive industry.

According to a recent customer survey conducted by the 2013 CONE Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, 70% of consumers “Think Green” when purchasing; and that number is growing.  Consumer observations and interests also affect their purchasing and the survey reveals 85% want companies to educate them.  So as hoteliers how can we afford to not “green” our hotel and “green” train our staff? 

In hard financial times what can we do that is no cost or low cost but will satisfy the growing hunger of guests looking for eco-destinations?  Being inside our properties, it’s difficult to see the most obvious areas for improvements and greening.
Be smart.  Start where you will get the best returns, guest satisfaction and cost savings with the least amount of capital outlay.

#1  Develop a “Going Green” Policy
Your policy doesn't have to be lengthy or highly detailed.   It should include your intentions to protect the environment, the health and safety of your employees, and the community in which you conduct your business.  Your policy should adopt environmentally responsible business practices by conserving energy, water, and other natural resources.  It can also state you will stay committed to these goals while maintaining your standards for customer comfort and enjoyment.

#2  Select a “Green Team”
There’s no need to go it alone.  With employee team members who represent your full scope of operations (housekeeping, maintenance, food and beverage, etc.), you’ll have expert help in identifying and implementing the best practices for your property as well as monitoring your progress and cost savings.

#3  Invest in Training your “Green Team”
These are the people on your staff that need to understand your “Going Green” policy and will be your “doers.”  It is important to educate them on “Green.”  Everyone needs to understand the many shades of green and have a mapped out process for getting there.  Invest in green training for your team.  A minimal training investment will be paid back within a short period of time by authorizing your green team to adopt minor operational changes.

#4  Fix Water Leaks and Manually Adjust Thermostats
Make sure kitchen staff and housekeepers alert maintenance staff to leaks regularly.  Water leaks can be costly but the good news is they can be easily fixed.  Make sure housekeepers set back thermostats when finishing a room.  Turn off lights in areas of the hotel that are not being used, but make sure all common access areas still meet fire code standards.

#5   Set-up a Towel Reuse Policy
Every day millions of gallons of water and laundry chemicals are used to wash towels and linens that have been used only once.  Create a simple room placard that gives guests the option to hang their towels back up and pull the comforter over the bed if they would like to help protect the environment by reusing their towels and linens.

Customers notice if you do not have recycling bins. At the least, set up recycling bins for your customers in common areas and near vending machines.  Paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, glass – recycle some or all.  It’s as simple as contacting your waste vendor, requesting recycling bins and placing them strategically in common areas.
In some states, you can even get bottle return money!  Make sure you don’t just collect it, but actually recycle it.

The 2013 CONE Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker survey also provided the following statistics:
       69% say, “It’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as it is honest.”
       78% say they will boycott a product/service if they discover an environmental claim to be misleading.

Congratulations!  With the above “shades of green” in place, you now are on the way to “Going Green.”
Sure there is always more you can do, but with a small cash outlay, you’re off to a very good start.

Investing in an educated Green Team who can answer guest questions, and with an adopted credible environmental policy, you can now proudly display your environmental policy on your website and on property.  Travelers searching for green practice hotels will take notice, and your business will be well on its way to becoming both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

View our 2014 Green Tourism Conference at a Glance Schedule

Short on time? Us too!
View the At-a-Glance Conference Schedule below or click here to download it.
Online registration is open. Click here to register online.
Important correction to Program Ad Specs, see below.

Program Ad deadline extended to March 15
Get in the program! Advertise your business in the Green Tourism Conference program, which will be in the hands of every attendee, and in front of the eyes of anyone visiting the GTC website.

Full page ad= $125
Half page ad= $75
Quarter page ad= $40

Ad specs:
Ads will be printed in Gray Scale
Full page 5"x8”
1/2 page horizontal 5”x 3.875”
1/4 page vertical 2.375”x 3.875”
Preferred file format: .JPG

Submit your print-ready ad to

2014 Green Tourism Conference - April 7-8 - Callicoon, NY

Friday, November 22, 2013

Redefining Eco-Friendly to Accurately Measure

Report finds eco-friendliness not a factor in filling hotel rooms:  By Danny King

There are two factors that I find significant in Danny King’s story on the report from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration issued publicly in October 2013

(1) The data metrics that were used: Sabre's, Travelocity Green Program and the International Carbon Measurement Initiative

(2) What is "Eco-friendliness?" How does the customer perceive that concept and the value?

Let’s explore the first data metric that was used, Sabre's, Travelocity Green Program.  Sabre's Program unlike Trip Advisor's (TA's) program, was never clearly rolled out. Let's think consumer for a minute. To find a Green Hotel rated by their program on Travelocity’s public site, you would think that you would go to their main site page.   But, there is no listing and no drop down for "green" on the main page.  If you care or know or have looked up, Googled, "Travelocity green hotels," you get guided to an interior page not even listed in the site navigation for "Green Hotels."

The Travelocity Green page  is a confusing site page loaded with PR jargon and the actual listings of hotels nearly impossible to find. There is no simple procedure for booking. If this is the tool that was used; number of hits, bookings from this source etc., I am surprised they got anything to measure based on the customer interface of the tool.

The article goes on to describe how many hoteliers went on to embrace measuring carbon footprints as the second metric used. Well if you look at the portfolio of Inter-Continental Hotels Group (IHG), the lead company in the article that is mentioned, you realize that this particular hotel group is heavily invested in countries that are embarking on carbon legislation that will and does impact hotel operations. For many reporting is a legislated necessity. IHG’s site provides insight into their carbon initiatives. The US is also an active participant in the carbon reporting dialogue. Carbon measuring for the international hotelier is a standard practice for conducting international business.

Reviewing this concept from the consumer perspective, this is currently a pretty confusing concept. Ask anybody if they are trading or calculating their carbons and you will see a blank stare much like the deer on the side of the road. To most consumers, it does not mean a thing. Carbon trading goes far beyond and is in left field when describing to the consumer "Eco -Friendly" and potentially a reason for booking a hotel room.

So the metrics for measuring eco-friendly consumer spending behavior missed the mark. The metric failed as a measurement for consumer habits. So does that mean that the customer doesn't care or value green? I think Danny King's article would like us to believe that. "Eco-friendly is not a factor in filling hotel rooms" I question the definition, measurement and context of his statement.

It is interesting that the article completely leaves out the TA program. Understandably, the TA program was not in existence when the study was done. The author chose to use only the data from the Cornell study. The TA program is the game changer for the industry. TA reported in 9/13 that it had doubled its participation and had become in less than 9 months the largest certification program.  The first report on the Cornell Study was publicly issued one month after TA’s progress report.  And this article is published  a mere two months after the TA data. Certifications and green programs are without a doubt rattled by TA's game changer.

What is intriguing, and I believe significant about this article and gleaned from the report, is what was used to measure eco-friendly customer value engagement.  Dr Chong and Dr. Verma, authors of the study, in their executive summary succinctly state, “While this study doesn't address the situation of any individual hotel, we can conclude that going green is compatible with existing quality standards of hotel service…”

Therefore I pose the question, is eco-friendly as it was defined for the last 10 years as, the initial steps that a hotel took to “Go Green,” now viewed by the customer  as standard, norms? Are these standards of service which we initially thought of as green standards now “existing quality standards of hotel service?” A norm then becomes hard to measure as a factor to measure purchasing habits since it is assumed. I would argue that it is this metric and the definition that has changed and consequently changing the consumer’s attitude towards the value of eco-friendly.    

Energy Conservation, water savers, sheet and towel programs and recycling are all now just considered a part of normal quality standards of hotel service. I draw the analogy of the customer who asks the front desk for a toothbrush that he/she forgot to pack. Would the front desk employee even think to say, “Oh we don't have a toothbrush, we don't do that?”  Well, that's where we are with Eco-Friendly.  

Consequently how the customer views eco-green/eco-friendliness has changed.  How the customer rates the hotel for green has changed.  If you take a moment to study how TA has listed Green Practices, Energy etc. under its Green Certification lexicon, you will see how those attitudes have changed. To enter into the program as a Green Partner (Base 1 Level), it's not enough to have energy efficient bulbs, that's a given. What you need to do in order to enter as a Green Partner is track energy use for a minimum of one year. The language for the consumer in TA's public green face is much more evolved than the standard of 5 years ago. The customer is smarter, knows more, expects more and gets it. If they choose to engage, they can respond based on the customer experience and a metric which rates a hotel on basic green standards and their practices that are above and beyond the norm. And hopefully an employee, having been required to take Green Team Training can engage in dialogue with the curious customer about the hotel's practices. 

So as a customer, we no longer look at or reward a hotel for doing the basics, the givens. On the other hand, do we really decide if we are going to stay at your hotel if you measure your carbons?  The question remains. Will hoteliers read this article, go about business as usual and not really look below the title as to the true significance of the article? The executive summary of the research paper states, “…advertising green status doesn’t hurt a hotel’s revenues. Earning a green certification does not automatically result in a large revenue bump nor a revenue fall. In short, green is not a “silver bullet” strategy. “

The game changer is to actively engage the consumer in the process.  And without a doubt in marketing we know that when you engage people in authentic stories and link their actions to responsible tourism, the consumer finds it more appealing and fulfilling, the sweet spot of added value.

Linking authenticity and responsibility are powerful marketing tools. Linking your green practices to your regional stewardship of the environment brings a whole other dimension to the green / eco-friendly commitment both for the consumer and the hotelier. Our drums need to march in the same parade. It's not about just a towel or a bulb, it's also about how our actions and spending habits impact where we live and play. Our job is to create those linkages. Our definitions and understanding of eco-friendly are changing and in a sustainable direction for all.  It just requires defining and measuring accurately in order to tell the story with authenticity.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Congratulations to the Green Concierge Participants

Left to Right / Top to Bottom
10,000 Waves, La Fonda, Hotel Santa Fe, The Sage Inn
The Inn of the Governors, La Posada de Santa Fe, Casa Cuma B&B,
Old Santa Fe Inn, The Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Inn at Santa Fe
Inn on the Alameda, Inn of the Five Graces, Silver Saddle Motel

On October 15th, thirteen properties of Santa Fe received notification from HospitalityGreen (HG) that they had passed the requirements of Phase 1 of the Green Concierge Certification® program. In early October a site audit was conducted at each of the properties.

Each property met the initial requirements of the Phase 1. For completing Phase One, the property was issued by HG a report card on the status of their certification, a Green Page stating their commitments and validation of their green initiatives and permission to use the HG icon. The Green Page along with the HG icon can be placed on their websites and available for customers and employees to read.

In order to meet the first tier, the bronze level, of the Green Concierge Certification® each property must undergo the site audit, meet multiple standards and provide resource usage for a minimum of six months. Each property will need to meet the bronze requirements on or before January 31, 2014 in order to be certified by HG this year.
Evadne Giannini, founder of HospitalityGreen spoke at the Green Lodging Initiatives Working Group local partners meeting. She said, “Each of these properties is totally unique. Many are privately owned and have been established for generations in Santa Fe. Their understanding and appreciation for both the culture and the environment is revealed throughout.

It is most rewarding to be working with some of the oldest hotels in the country and to see that, yes, from Route 66 original motels to historic luxury properties green practices can be implemented and achieve extraordinary results.

It is much easier to implement sustainable initiatives on newer properties. It takes creativity, resourcefulness and a dedication to achieve this level of results on older properties.  These properties should be recognized as leaders in the industry. Over the next few months, we look forward to publishing more information on each of them.”  

Felicity Broennan, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association said, “It is our intention that the guests of Santa Fe will recognize our individual lodger’s commitments to sustainability and participate in the conservation of the precious resources available to us here in Santa Fe.”  

The Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative is a public-private sector collaboration spearheaded by the SFWA and funded by a $49,700 grant awarded to the Watershed Association by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The SFWA contracted HospitalityGreenLLC to provide training, one-on-one technical assistance, and to implement the Green Concierge Certification® to the lodging providers of Santa Fe.  It is the intention of the program to work with the Santa Fe partners to help brand Santa Fe as an eco-tourist destination.

For more information on the Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative: 
Adrianne Picciano, Project Coordinator
Tel: (845)-436-6173

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Group finds cutting waste yields savings

Program targets resorts' use
Evadne Giannini’s company, Hospitality Green, helps businesses save money by being environmentally friendly, such as going through the recyclables at the Villa Roma Resort to help the hotel reduce its waste.DOMINICK FIORILLE/ Times Herald-Record
MOUNTAINDALE — Villa Roma maintenance Manager Bill Andrews parked a passenger van in the resort's Dumpster yard and Evadne Giannini got out and began inspecting clear bags filled with money.
Inside were bottles and cans collected as part of a recycling program expected to save Villa Roma more than $100,000 this year. Giannini was checking the purity of the program, which was launched with the aid of Mountaindale-based business Hospitality Green. She peered into bags to ensure they were free of other waste.
"This is money for them," said Giannini, the company's principal.
Reducing waste to yield savings for hotel and other clients, and showing how "green" products can protect employees and guests, is a growth industry for Hospitality Green as businesses pursue savings and travelers prioritize hotels using sustainable practices.
Giannini and her contract employees can be found looking through Dumpsters and trash bags, following trash haulers around and checking supply closets to see where clients can reduce waste and replace hazardous chemicals.
"We have to get under the hood," Giannini said.
Zero waste is the goal for Hospitality Green, whose local clients includes SUNY Sullivan and The Sullivan hotel.
To achieve that, the company recruits all levels of a business' operations, from maintenance and cleaning staff to supply purchasers and food service workers.
The benefit of junking incandescent bulbs in favor of longer-lasting CFLs and LEDs, thereby saving on replacement costs, is part of the mix.
So are composting and recycling, which can save on Dumpster and landfill costs, and green cleaning products, which can reduce worker health costs and appeal to guests sensitive to the odor of some chemicals.
Convincing all employees to buy in to sustainable practices is the key, Giannini said.
"Our job is to figure out a way to bring this rather complicated information to people where they can understand they can make a difference," she said.
One client, Dover Downs, saved about $250,000 on its landfill bill by diverting recyclables from its trash stream, Giannini said. Villa Roma expects to save significant amounts on the single-stream recycling program launched in June.
"A lot of people have the belief that going green is a lot of money," said Bill Andrews, the resort's maintenance manager. "But the overall savings, there's no comparison."
Villa Roma eliminated three Dumpsters and cut back on the frequency of pickups, which cost $150 per pickup plus $70 for each ton of trash.
Andrews predicts the savings may double next year.
"Not only is it great for the hotel, it's great for the environment," he said.