8 Sustainable Hotel Practices: Attract Guests by Going Green
Sustainable hotel practices are on the rise, and your business will benefit by joining the ranks of these greener lodging establishments.
Going green can mean a lot of significant changes to your hotel or a few eco-friendly adjustments that add up—even a little goes a long way. Today’s consumer cares about the ethics of businesses they engage with. Set yourself apart from the competitions by appealing to the growing number of sustainability savvy travelers.
As every hotel owner knows, the two main goals of running a hospitality establishment are to bring money in the door and prevent money from going out. To save “green,” some hotel owners may choose to cut corners and skip certain sustainable hotel practices, thinking it’s not affordable.
But the truth is that guests want to feel good about their stay and the impact their travel has on the environment. According to an international Skift Research study, 53% of travelers will pay more for environmentally responsible products, which is a 13% increase in just a year. With many travelers preferring to minimize the impact of their experience while still exploring their world, sustainable hotels that promote their good green practices are seeing positive results to their bottom line.
Better still, sustainable hotel practices help owners cut costs, which means more money to put into the hotel for other draws like increasing staff and offering better amenities. With sustainable practices, hotels can save money on water, power, and more. Going green can require an initial investment upfront, but not all changes require substantial capital improvements. The investments will more than pay for themselves through your decreased energy bills and increased bookings!
So, what steps can hotel owners take today to shift to more sustainable hotel practices? Here are 8 tips to help you go green.
1. Shine Some Sustainable Light
Run-of-the-mill, traditional incandescent light bulbs are 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 companies to avoid installing them in large quantities.
However, over the past several years, most businesses have shifted to 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 several months to a year.
If you’re ready to save even more energy, consider upgrading to automatic lighting. Smart sensors detect when guests leave the room and automatically shut the light after a certain period. Not only does this help reduce energy usage and the environmental impact of your hotel, but it will help you save money on your electricity expenditures too. Smart heating and cooling options are also available, or you can leave reminder cards in each room asking guests to turn down the thermostat when they leave (and have housekeeping check when they visit the room).
2. Improve Water Use with 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.
For hotel owners considering updates to their building’s plumbing, the dual-flush toilet features flushes that use less water to dispose 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.
Other water-saving innovations include automatic sinks that only run when someone is washing their hands (helping guests remember not to leave the water running while they brush their teeth and wash up for the night). Some eco-friendly hotels also find it helpful to install water-conserving showerheads, increasing shower pressure for guests while cutting back on waste.
3. Cut Down on Plastics
Many guests prefer to refill their own water bottles rather than buying disposable bottles over and over. You can make it easy for them to “go green” by adding water bottle filling stations to drinking fountains in the lobby and throughout your hotel.
Sell branded water bottles in your gift shop, and even offer guests a reward or discount for purchasing a refillable bottle. Similarly, look for other areas where you can reduce plastic and waste.
When you consider toiletries to go in your rooms, consider partnering with eco-friendly businesses that provide recyclable mini bottles of shampoo, paper-wrapped soaps, and other sustainable amenities. The added bonus is that these exceptional brands often feel like a more lavish luxury too! The other option is to ditch the single-use shampoo and conditioner altogether and install refillable dispensers in the showers.
4. Increase Your Hotel’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. Notepads, local guides, and other materials can also be printed on recyclable stock.
If your hotel guests book mainly online, you can almost skip the paper altogether! Innovative front desk practices are eliminating the need for paper during check-in and check-out. After all, many guests don’t want to carry around a large paper receipt or keep track of it on their vacation. Instead, email and electronic booking help eliminate excess paper.
5. Help Housekeeping Engage in Sustainable Hotel Practices
From garbage in the room to cleaning products and laundry, there’s a lot of energy that goes into keeping your hotel neat and tidy. Housekeeping can be a great area to shore up costs and implement more sustainable hotel practices.
Consider encouraging guests to opt-out of towel washing and laundry changes if they plan to stay for several days. You can make this easier by installing a few more hooks in the bathroom and including signage to help guests remember to use only what they need and leave dirty towels on the floor to be changed.
While a clean hotel is critical to the success of your business, choose the most eco-friendly products whenever possible. Look for sustainable cleaners through your hotel supplier to make cleaning safer for staff and the environment. Encourage housekeeping to report any issues they see to management right away, as sometimes they may notice a broken air conditioner or leaking faucet long before guests report it.
6. Consider the Larger Update of Investing in Solar Power
Ready to take a more significant step towards sustainability? Consider making a more extensive update to increasing your use of solar power. Hotels often have roof space that goes unused. Even hotels in giant skyscrapers put their pools on the last indoor floor, not on the roof, so that patrons can use them year-round.
If you have the economic clout and capital, consider investing in solar panels on your roof. Eco-friendly solar energy will 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.
Should you decide to go the solar route, you should promote this sustainable hotel practice to your guests to help them take note. Many guests are unaware of the steps that hotels take to reduce energy consumption and waste but sharing this information can lead to repeat bookings and guests who promote your business to their friends.
7. Consider Green Space & Garden Attractions
Depending on your location and the weather, you can increase your hotel’s sustainability by adding more outdoor space to gather, dine, and play. Greenery helps shield your hotel from the sun, and indoor greenery can improve the air quality while keeping your hotel beautiful.
If you operate an on-site restaurant, your roof can provide an 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, but you can also 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. Compost the waste to help nourish more food in the future.
If you have one of the only rooftop gardens in town, your hotel could become a destination for that reason alone. 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 and events to your space.
8. Don’t Forget to Share Your Sustainable Success
When customers are booking online, they have many choices. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you should take every opportunity to tout your sustainable hotel practices as part of the experience at your hotel.
In your marketing, be sure to highlight the sustainable steps you’re taking by putting it on your website, including the information in your brochures, and promoting your hotel on social media. Consider connecting with eco-friendly influencers to help share their experience in your hotel and reach their thousands of followers.
Customers want to connect with companies that care. When they choose to spend their money traveling and exploring the world, they also want to know that they are choosing a place to stay that is kind to the earth. Help them realize the steps you’re taking by posting information in the rooms and including signage in the lobby of your hotel as well.
The Continuing Sustainability Trend in Hospitality
Sustainable hotel practices aren’t a passing fad or something that only the “big guys” can do to bring in more guests and build loyalty among the traveling public. Explore what the top eco-friendly hotels are doing to make a difference, and follow their lead.
The Loews hotel resorts chain 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 how they cook, refrigerate, light, and use HVAC.
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, ensure their HVAC systems hit high standards, and keep valuable water from being wasted.
Using sustainable hotel practices are a wise decision for your hotel, no matter the size or location, because it attracts guests in the short term and saves money in the long term. As we go into the future, eco-consciousness is likely to be an essential concern for all of us. By reducing your impact on the environment, you’ll boost your reputation, save money, appeal to guests, and protect the planet. Going green is a win-win for all!