You can forgive traditional hoteliers if they seem “green” with envy these days. After all, more sustainability-minded competitors are starting to significantly outperform them in everything from customer satisfaction to ultimate financial performance. Just consider recent reports from TripAdvisor and Cornell University.
Trip Advisor GreenLeaders lead in hotel customer ratings
Several years ago, TripAdvisor – with the involvement of the USGBC LEED Certification Program, the United Nations Environment Program, and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program – began its GreenLeaders initiative, to help travelers more easily find eco-friendly lodging. Now the company is reporting that hotels bearing the Greenleader badge receive guest ratings that are seven percent higher than non-green properties.
Part of the program’s success and continued expansion lies in the clarity and transparency it provides all concerned. Hotels know exactly what minimum requirements must be met, including programs for:
- Linen and towel re-use
- Regular energy use tracking
- Recycling energy efficient light-bulbs
- Proper treatment of waste water
- Education – for staff and guests – on green practices
And potential guests know, when they see the GreenLeader seal, that specific, substantive criteria have been met.
Education and communication are central to hotel sustainability programs
That last point about education is critical, because effective hotel sustainability programs require more than just good plans – they need good participation. Even guests who’ve selected a stay based on eco-friendliness still need instruction and encouragement on-site. This can be accomplished by simple measures, including guest-friendly signage to prompt them to re-use towels or turn off lights, and help them understand what a difference that makes. Good communication can boost guest involvement, and also validate the eco-conscious consumers’ choice of hotels.
Green certifications for hotels pays off at the bottom line
The GreenLeaders program is just one example of the power of third-party validation. You might also choose to formalize your hotel’s standing for sustainability via the Green Global Certification, the Green Seal program for hotels, the Green Key Eco-Rating or one of several other reputable ratings programs. The point is not which certification you should have – the point is to get certified and leverage that recognition to your advantage.
A recent study from Cornell University discovered that LEED-certified hotels achieved significantly better financial performance than their non-certified competitors. This included realizing higher daily rates and better overall revenue per room.
That’s just one example of how certification pays. It validates your investment in sustainability, attracts customers, and even allows them to justify paying a premium for staying at your truly eco-friendly property.
Consumers can see your true colors – so be truly green
Consumers may know more about sustainability these days than do many hoteliers. That knowledge makes them acutely aware of, and adverse to, “greenwashing,” the claiming of eco-consciousness that isn’t backed up by demonstrable commitment. Building a hotel that is “green from the ground up,” sufficiently so as to be LEED-certified, is no small commitment. But even if you’re not starting from the drawing board, there are many ways you can go deeper with sustainability and be rewarded for it.
The GreenLeaders program mentioned above is a good example. It offers lodging organizations the opportunity to be recognized at several levels, as their hotels deepen their commitment. Are you ready do to more than encourage guests to re-use towels, which can help you qualify for the basic seal? Then shoot for a silver, gold or platinum designation by taking on additional efforts for sustainability.
For instance, one good place to start is by looking at your purchasing policies and supply chain to make sure you’re buying recycled toilet paper, hand towels and facial tissues. You’ll find that sourcing environmentally responsible supplies is relatively easy – the hard part is changing the corporate mindset so purchasing looks for those first.
Hotel sustainability – the new must-have amenity
Hotel guests are demanding sustainability, and more and more hotels are starting to deliver it. The end result? Everyone benefits – and your hotel can too.
The Balance/Small Business: Sustainability and eco-friendly hotel initiatives
Green Hotelier: Cornell study finds LEED certification boosts hotel revenue
Trip Advisor: Green Leaders
Green Lodging News: Three years after launch, Green Leader
Travel Weekly: Sustainability-certified hotels result in better client experience
FTN News: Travelers seek eco-friendly hotels