Let’s face it, during an ongoing global pandemic, pervasive social unrest, and continuing political and economic uncertainty, the hospitality industry is facing a myriad of challenges. But there is one challenge that may also prove to be an important opportunity. In response to mounting concerns over climate change, a powerful “green wave” has emerged, and it’s changing not only the way people live their lives but also the way entrepreneurs run their businesses.
For the hospitality industry, the potential benefits of the environmental movement can be great. However, hotel owners and managers must be strategic when riding the green wave.
The Benefits of the Green Wave
Pursuing environmentally-friendly practices in your hotel or restaurant isn’t just great for Mother Nature, but it can also be good for your business’s bottom line.
Cultivating a “Green” Brand
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of instituting green practices in your business is the effect it’s going to have on customers. Studies show, for instance, that one in five travelers would be willing to pay more for accommodations and services provided by businesses with a solid reputation for environmentally and socially responsible practices.
One of the most important trends in the hospitality industry is the advent of “eco-travel,” vacation tours in which the protection and celebration of the environment are top-of-mind. For instance, lodging in an eco-friendly hotel is a principal focus of eco-tourists. In a recent survey, 73% of travelers report that locating an environmentally sustainable facility is their biggest concern and most important decision when designing their eco-travel plan.
The benefits of the green wave extend beyond the all-important issue of cultivating an attractive brand and drawing environmentally-conscious guests to your hotel. Green practices can also significantly cut your operating costs. That’s because your primary goal as a “green” facility is going to be on reducing waste and inefficiency wherever possible
For example, you can substantially cut water waste by installing low-flow toilets. Similarly, you can increase your hotel’s energy efficiency through simple changes, such as installing LED lightbulbs and switching to energy-saving appliances.
Through these relatively easy modifications, you’ll be building your green brand, nurturing the environment, and reducing your operating costs!
Look Before You Leap
As great as the advantages of sustainable practices can be, not all green initiatives are created equal. For this reason, it’s important to look before you leap into the green wave, taking care to ensure that the changes you implement will offer the benefits you seek, both for the environment and your business.
Do Your Homework
Anything you can do to benefit the environment is a good thing, but you have to pick your battles and, more specifically, your market. Some “green” practices may not be right for your business, your customers, or your environment.
For example, investing tens of thousands of dollars to install solar panels in an environment that gets relatively little sun exposure isn’t just going to take a big bite out of your budget, but it is also not likely to yield the environmental benefits you want.
In other words, you might not be reducing your company’s carbon footprint as much as you’re reducing your company’s rainy day funds. So take care to research your market and nice and to choose your green investments wisely. Once you understand your guests, your competition, and your business climate, both environmental and economic, you’ll be able to establish your niche as an eco-friendly brand whose green operations serve the business, the guests, and the environment well.
Beware of Greenwashing
One of the biggest dangers you are likely to face when you decide to “go green” is the threat of greenwashing. This refers to the practice of unscrupulous businesses exploiting the green movement by branding themselves as environmentally-friendly enterprises when, in fact, they are no such thing.
So if you’ve decided to ride the green wave, then it’s important to remain alert to signs of greenwashing in the businesses you partner with. This would include investigating what kinds of green certifications the companies have, as far too many of these “accreditations” are little more than meaningless. In addition, you should also be investigating your partners’ partners. Indeed, one of the most common forms of greenwashing is for companies to team with suppliers who use environmentally harmful practices while they remain “clean” and eco-friendly.
The green wave is sweeping the globe and, amid the continuing threat of climate change, it’s a trend that’s not likely to subside anytime soon. For the hospitality industry, this invites both challenge and opportunity, from the threat of losses due to poor green investments and the fraud of greenwashing to the potential profitability borne of a lucrative “green” brand identity. In short, when done with care, consideration, and strategy, “riding the green wave” isn’t just great for Mother Earth, it’s also a gift to your business’s bottom line!
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to the hospitality industry, business productivity, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Related article: How to Increase Your Bottom Line by Greening Your Hotel
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