Green practices in hotels are on the rise and your business can benefit from joining the ranks. Going green can mean a lot of big changes or a few small ones — but even a little goes a long way. Understanding how to attract guests to your hotel isn’t always easy, but we recommend trying these eco-friendly practices to help set you apart from the competition and appeal to the growing number of sustainability savvy travelers.
The two main goals of any hotel business are to bring money in and keep money from going out. In today’s market there’s a way to change your approach when it comes to attracting guests by enhancing your commitment to the environment. Guests feel good about staying at sustainable hotels because they like that your company is giving back to the community. You can feel good about sustainability practices because they can cut costs, which means more money to put into the hotel for better staff and better amenities. Going green as a strategy to fill more hotel rooms can require initial up-front investments, but not all changes require huge capital improvements. And, the investments will more than pay for themselves through your decreased energy bills and increased bookings!
Green Practices in Hotels: Small Things To Do
Shine Some Light: Your run of the mill, traditional incandescent light bulbs seem cheap on the front end, but will end up costing your business more money in the long run. Green bulbs have been around for many years, though their need to be specially disposed of often caused business to avoid installing them in large quantities. However, a more recent option includes LED bulbs which last longer and use less energy. They are more expensive per bulb, but you can save hundreds over the lifetime of an LED bulb due to the reduction in energy usage and the much longer life span. If the initial cost seems too high to do all at once, consider a staggered rollout of new LED bulbs by focusing on a floor at a time over a period of several months to a year.
Flushing Innovations: Low flush toilets were hyped as the first generation of water-saving devices. Now that motion-sensing towels, hand dryers, faucets and soap dispensers are in nearly every public restroom, the next generation is upon us. Enter the dual-flush toilet, featuring flushes that use less water to dispose of of liquid or light waste. Solid or heavy waste requires a heavy flush, which is achieved simply by pushing the handle in the opposite direction. These toilets customize the amount of water they use to the needs of the customer. Toilets like these are commonplace in many parts of Europe, and we are starting to see more of them in public restrooms in the U.S.
Paperless Power: We were probably all taught to recycle at some point in our lives and many of us automatically know to separate recyclables from non-recyclables. Consider adding a recycling bin to your hotel rooms so that people can recycle when they travel like they are accustomed to doing at home.
Purchase 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper stock for your hotel and print guestbooks and menus on recycled paper. If your hotel books guests mainly online you can almost skip the paper altogether! And any paper you do use can be brought back through proper in-room recycling.
Be sure that these changes are clear to your guests – part of learning how to attract guests to your hotel means making sure your efforts don’t go unnoticed, no matter how small!
Eco-Friendly Hotels: Big Changes Can Mean Big Results
Solar Flare: Hotels often have roof space that goes unused. Even hotels in large skyscrapers put their pools on the last indoor floor, not on the roof, so that they can be used year-round. If you have the economic clout and capital, consider investing in solar panels on your roof. These cut down on your power expenditures, which are often between 4-6% of revenue. If your building is large enough, you can even sell back some of your excess energy for energy credits from your local power provider.
Garden Attraction: If you operate an on-site restaurant, your roof can provide additional bounty. Take advantage of the trend for locally-sourced fruit and vegetables by growing your own in a rooftop garden. Not only can you save money for your own food costs, you can sell any leftovers to other restaurants or pubs looking for local contributions. A rooftop garden gives your chef a chance to plan out meals and plates that play to the strengths of your harvest rather than what the food wholesaler has cheap that week. And, if you have one of the only rooftop gardens in town, your hotel could become a destination for that reason only. Make sure the garden is well-taken care of and visually appealing, add a gazebo on the roof and use this as a selling point to attract more weddings. Sometimes you have to get creative with hotel strategies to attract customers!
Helpful Hangups: Offer your guest the option to reuse their linens for the duration of their stay, as opposed to having your housekeeping staff wash them each day or after each use. The general protocol is to ask guests to hanging up their towels rather than leaving them on the floor after each use. A towel that is hung up means they are happy to reuse that towel another time. A towel left on the floor should be replaced.
Since most of us don’t wash our towels after one shower at home, guests are usually happy to participate in this program at your hotel as well. A properly run reuse program can cut down on costs by nearly 17%. You save money on electricity, soap, water and labor. Your guests will immediately recognize your effort to save on resources and appreciate your attempts to reduce water and energy usage. This requires almost no effort on the part of your guest, and can help you score major loyalty points for being eco-conscious. When it comes to figuring out how to attract guests to your hotel, a linen reuse program is a no-brainer!
Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry
The sustainable hotels trend isn’t just something that smaller, boutique or local hotels are doing to bring in more guests and build loyalty among the traveling public. Everyone from the Ritz-Carlton to the Loews hotel resorts are doing their part. Loews offers guest room recycling, environmentally friendly cleaning products, minimal lighting and more as part of their green commitment. They’ve reduced energy consumption—and therefore costs—through watching where they can change how they cook, refrigerate, light, and modify their HVAC temperatures.
Las Vegas is known for its conspicuous consumption, but even their high rollers are coming around to saving the environment. Several Las Vegas buildings have been LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Casinos like the Venetian and the Encore recycle food waste, make sure their HVAC systems hit high standards, keep valuable water from being wasted.
Using eco-friendly practices is a smart decision for your hotel because it brings you guests in the short term and saves you money in the long term. Changing out incandescent light bulbs to high efficiency models mean they last longer and use less electricity. Advanced toilets offer more control over how much water is used. In-room recycling cuts down on paper costs and landfill space and using roof space for solar panels lets your hotel generate its own energy. A rooftop garden allows you to grow your own food, in addition to being a beautiful space for weddings, parties and other events. Linen reuse programs save time, money and work. These techniques can easily be used as great selling point for guest who care about the environment.
When it comes to tips for how to attract guests to your hotel, look to the big hotel chains and large resort cities like Las Vegas. If these businesses are getting in on the green revolution that probably means it’s worth joining them. Your guests will thank you!
Image “Bedroom” courtesy of Flickr user jaliyaj licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “Bulb light with tree inside on blue background” courtesy of Flickr user mattwalker69 licensed under CC by 2.0.
Featured image “Hotel Felix in Chicago” courtesy of Flickr user Charles & Hudson licensed under CC by 2.0.