We’ve been hearing allot recently that with the economic woes the general populace is leaving “Green” behind in favor of saving or conserving cash. Is it true? Do tough times truly turn the eco-conscious from Green to Brown?
I came accross a recent article at eMarketer.com – Is Green Still Golden? and it had some pretty interesting facts. If consumers are in-fact curtailing spending on green, marketers apparently are not. According to a recent study by the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Fleishman-Hillard companies are continuing to invest in “Green” marketing, pushing the message to the consumer.
The survey found that 58% of those polled planned on putting more emphasis on developing corporate sustainability opportunities in the months ahead. Why? They believe that tough times actually encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly practices. I have to agree. The environemtal mantra – “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” actually translates to cost savings and efficiencies.
According to Nancy Costopulos of the AMA. “The business community is embracing environmental sustainability in a way that this country has probably never seen before.” Almost two thirds of US Communications Professionals feel the new administration will only accellerate these efforts, while only a handful felt otherwise. There’s also a strong sentiment about the importance of sustainability playing a major role in a company’s ongoing reputation.
But, while marketing the “Green” message may be on the rise, a report from Clean Edge, “Clean Energy Trends 2009,” which concentrated on green industries, seems to indicate that capital investment projects may be suffering. Gobal investments in new energy technologies expanded by 4.7% last year, rising from $148.4 billion in 2007 to $155.4 billion in 2008 according to the report. But, because of the current global recession, it went on to say “The clean-energy sector faces considerable challenges moving forward.”
So what does all this mean for the hospitality industry and more specifically hotels & resorts. Dollars are tight and the majority of consumers are not willing to pay premiums for “Green” lodging. At the same time they want their lodging to be environmentally friendly. My suggestion is to focus efforts in areas that don’t require significant capital outlay which you would have to recapture through increased rates. Instead, make sure that your property is doing the simple things that don’t require large capital outlay and can in-fact create substantial cost savings.
A simple illustration of this is to educate your frontdesk and housekeeping staff on educating your guests. Most properties have linen programs with tent-cards and placards in each room. But does the staff encourage and educate the guest as to the difference they can make by taking advantage of these programs? Could the property perhaps even offer an incentive to guests that keep the same sheets and towels for a 3 day stay? I recently read about a hotel that placed a sheet next to the linen placard where the guest could indicate that they took advantage of the linen program. It was left for future guests to see . . . the result . . . adoption of the linen program had a huge increase. Seems like if someone else is doing it, social proof causes the next guest to want to be kind to the environment too.
A similar approach can be used for room electric and water use. Programs like these can be accomplished at minimal expense and the savings can amount to thousands annually for even a small property. Best of all . . . any property can do this . . . you’ll be earning a reputation as a sustainable property and your customer didn’t have to pay extra. In-fact, you might even choose to reward them for being eco-friendly durring their stay with you.