3 Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Initiatives for Conscious Hotels

06th September 2019

It seems like no matter where you look, sustainability is becoming one of the most talked-about issues facing society. The impact that people, and their actions, have on the environment is becoming clearer by the year and conscious consumption is an integral part of the modern conversation. Once considered ‘just a trend’, eco-friendly initiatives are increasingly popular and sought-after as solutions to a growing issue. And it looks as though 44% of Baby Boomers and 42% of Generation X agree. 

This demographic is well-travelled, well-informed, and continues to put more emphasis on sustainable consumption every year. In fact, they’re so passionate that 66% say they’re happy to pay more money if companies can demonstrate their commitment to having a positive environmental impact. But it’s not just the people who travel for leisure that have a desire to go green. 51% of businesses say that they try to hold their meetings in environmentally friendly locations, and 75% of businesses go out of their way to ask if there are sustainable initiatives that could help them decide on a venue. With statistics like these, it’s safe to say that green is the new black. And it’s about time.

Whether they’re travelling for business or leisure, guests want to feel good about the accommodation they’re staying in. And not just in the ‘value-for-money’ sense. They’re increasingly attracted to hotels that are vocal about the sustainable changes they’ve made (or are working towards). This matters, especially to the 58% of travellers say they would pay at least five percent more if they knew there would be a lighter environmental footprint.

Location, service, experience, and amenities are a big contributing factor when it comes to where someone might choose to stay, but hotels can make an effort to stand out from the crowd through sustainable initiatives and attract even more guests. A TripAdvisor survey proves this point. According to the survey, 79% of travellers said that finding a hotel with eco-friendly values was valuable to them as they looked for accommodation. And, just as importantly, those same travellers have shown that they’re also more likely to be repeat guests. 

As guest’s booking criteria begins to shift, so do their travel habits and motivations. For the conscious traveller, a great stay is now determined by more things than a great location and fast wifi connection. A new part of their criteria is whether a hotel takes steps to minimize their ecological impact and what changes they’re making. Guests want to feel good about where they spend their money, and they want to support businesses who can manage (and communicate) the effect they have on the environment. Hotels who can successfully capitalise on this momentum will stand out from the crowd and attract even more guests whose values align with theirs. 

So, now that you know how meaningful it is to make eco-friendly changes, how can you begin integrating them in your hotel? Start with these 3 initiatives.

1. Start Simple by Using Less

Sustainable initiatives benefit your guests. They also help minimise your hotel’s environmental impact, reduce utility bills, and use resources more efficiently, all while differentiating your brand from competitors. The (eco-friendly) grass really is greener. And it’s good business.

The quickest way to make a difference is to start with energy and resource conservation. These efforts will help the environment, as well as reducing your utility bills. Energy is typically a hotel’s biggest expense, and it’s possible to lower energy usage by 20-40% by using automatic control systems and occupancy sensors that go into energy-saving mode when a guest leaves their room. Everything adds up, especially when you consider that 35% of a hotel’s electricity consumption consists of miscellaneous uses. If you can’t afford to update control systems or switch to eco-friendly kitchen appliances, easy changes like LED light bulbs can go a long way in helping reduce energy usage.

Water usage is another great place to implement sustainable changes, especially when you consider the fact that a hotel uses approximately 450-900 litres of freshwater every day for an occupied room. With a statistic like this, it’s safe to say that water conservation should be a cornerstone to any hotel’s eco-friendly initiative. Re-using towels, installing low-flow showers and toilets, and recycling grey water are all great ways to cut down on costs while benefiting the environment.

Water and energy conservation is increasingly becoming standard in hotels around the world, especially in places where resources are scarce. Guests are starting to expect to see requests to reuse towels, and they’ll feel validated in their choice to book with you when they do. Plus, if there is any new technology or initiative they should know about, a hotel-branded app can easily provide a tutorial or push notification to inform them of any measures your hotel is taking.

2. The Three Rs: Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling Waste

Thanks to a massive shift in the guest’s perspective on the environment, recycling programs in hotels are now the norm rather than the exception. But the green initiative doesn’t stop there (we’d have a very short eBook if it did!). Hotels can go beyond ‘just’ recycling paper and plastic and look for creative ways to reduce waste that guests will notice - and appreciate. 

One of the biggest ways you can make an impact when it comes to reducing waste is to replace small, single-use toiletry bottles with refillable pump bottles. Marriott is a great example of how this seemingly little change can have a massive impact. So far, about 1000 of its hotels have added refillable toiletry bottles to their bathrooms. This prevents about 500 million smaller bottles from going to landfills every year. That adds up to about 1.7 million pounds of plastic and a 30% reduction from their current plastic usage.

Looking for smaller steps you can incorporate in your hotel? You can:

  •     place recycling bins in each room to make it more convenient for guests to use
  •     make sure bins are visible (and accessible) in all public areas
  •     introduce filtered water dispensers and begin phasing out bottled water, and
  •     reduce the amount of paper you use and have guest information stored in your own hotel app.

Just as every single LED light bulb makes a difference to your hotel’s energy bill, every eco-friendly initiative adds up over time. What might seem like one small step now could be a giant leap down the road?

3. Go Digital With Room Keys

Obviously, every guest has to be able to get into their room. And this eBook is about finding eco-friendly initiatives that can also enhance the guest’s experience. Cross both of those things off the ‘to-accomplish list’ at the same time with digital room keys.

Typical key cards are made of a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) -based plastic, which is made through an incredibly toxic manufacturing process that has a terrible impact on the environment. Some hotels are switching from PVC cards, which have a very short life span, to new keys made of wood, paper, or other types of plastic. But each of these still takes a toll on the environment. A mobile app is more durable, harder for a guest to lose, and easily the most sustainable option for a hotel looking to make eco-friendly changes. Plus, it provides an even better guest experience as guests can check-in using their own phone, and they’ll never have to look through every pocket to find their key. It’s probably already in their hand.