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.

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