The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism for development, and as such it’s little surprise that upwards of 65% of global travellers indicate they plan to stay at an eco-friendly hotel in 2017. Or that another traveler poll shows high value placed on ‘sustainable travel’ and ‘reducing environmental impact’.
As what people value (and expect) shifts, new opportunities are unearthed for the hospitality industry. As opposed to being threatened by these dynamics, hotels are embracing the changes.
Most big chains have already moved in this direction. Take Marriott for example, which has electric car charging stations and is developing LEED certified properties worldwide. There is also Hilton, which has an entire website dedicated to its environmental initiatives.
Some may scoff at this as corporate lip service to doing the ‘right thing’, but regardless of intent or outcome, these brands are succeeding at appealing to consumers.
Small hotels and individuals operators are much more nimble than giant companies and can capitalise on this opportunity by changing tact quickly.
Here are a few ways properties are going green.
Whether this is in terms of amenities or food and beverage service, reducing waste is the place to start. Many hotels have ditched single serving bottles for refillable ones, and there are more than a few great nonprofits looking to partner with hotels to reduce waste.
Building an On-Site Garden
If food service is part of your property’s makeup, then having a garden can be a great perk. It shows a commitment to environmental stewardship and reassures guests that some of the food they’re eating is as local as it gets. Some hotels have gone even bigger and ‘greened’ their roofs.
Using a Keycard System for Energy Savings
Many hotels have switched to a keycard system that turns off lights and AC when not engaged. This is a great way to reduce energy consumption when guests get careless.
Across the industry, hotels having been installing low-flow showers/toilets, letting guests opt out of fresh towels, and reusing linen. Less laundry means less water wasted. Others have taken more aggressive approaches and built rainwater harvesting cisterns or gray water recycling systems.
There are a lot of certifications that can help the environmental bottom line and your appeal to guests. Some of the most prominent are LEED, Earthcheck, GreenSeal and TripAdvisor Green Leader programme.
The ideas listed above barely scratch the surface of ways a hotel can become more eco-friendly. Not every approach is practical or appropriate for every business, but small changes can go a long way toward helping the planet, saving money and catching the eye of environmentally minded guests.