Sustainability in the hospitality industry isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a better way of doing business, both for the environment and for your bottom line.
Transforming your property into an eco-friendly oasis will take time – and some upfront investment – but a 2014 study by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University makes one thing clear: embracing sustainability in the hospitality industry is indeed worth the investment.
The study, entitled “The Impact of LEED Certification on Hotel Performance,” compared 93 properties certified by the LEED program, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and 514 comparable competitors that didn’t have LEED certification. Over a two-year period, the LEED-certified hotels had better financial performance than their non-certified competitors in terms of occupancy, average daily rate (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR).
It’s a compelling case in favor of sustainability, and as you’re thinking through how to jumpstart your own ecological overhaul, here are some important steps to keep in mind:
Do A Sustainability-Minded Assessment of Your Property
Gather as much data as you can about the three biggest conservation categories: waste, water and energy. Look back at several years’ worth of records for how much you spend and expend in each category. Having a baseline for where you are now will help you set realistic goals and track your progress.
Brainstorm How to Impact Each Conservation Category
Prioritize which conservation category or categories you want to tackle first and start brainstorming strategies.
Your initial list may look something like this:
• Work with the waste management provider to step up recycling
• Put clearly marked recycling bins in each guest room, in the back of the house and in all common areas
• Start a composting program
• Install dual-flush toilets in guest rooms and common areas
• Use a graywater system that redirects wastewater from dishwashers and other appliances to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping
• Make sure all interior and exterior light bulbs are energy-efficient
• Add motion-activated lighting to guest rooms and conference spaces
• In general, invest in the most energy-efficient and low-water appliances and equipment available, from dishwashers to ice makers
Set Ambitious Goals
Decide by what percentage you want the property to reduce the amount of waste produced, water used or energy burned over the next year. Or set your sights on a sustainability certification, such as LEED, Energy Star or Florida’s Green Lodging Program.
Let Everyone Know You’re Launching a Sustainability Transformation
Kick off your efforts by letting staff, guests, members of the public and even public officials know that you’re looking to go greener. You’ll need their help – especially staff and guests – and going public with your project will get their buy-in and keep you accountable.
Give your green campaign a catchy name and its own branding. Post information in guest rooms and the staff lounge about how each group can do their part, from cutting back on laundry service to turning off room lights during the day.
Make Sustainability Part of Your Marketing and Branding Campaigns
Once you’ve reached a major milestone, achieved a big goal or received an eco-friendly certification, shout it from the rooftops. Make sure to highlight your achievement in your marketing and branding materials.
In Florida, participation in the Green Lodging Program can also bring you more state business: Under state law, preference for state meetings and conferences is given to designated hotels.
Embracing sustainability in the hospitality industry is not only the right thing to do for the environment, it makes good business sense, too. Research shows eco-friendly efforts can benefit the bottom line through increased occupancy, ADR and RevPAR, making your investment of time and money a sound one.
Here are more ideas to help you can embrace sustainable hospitality practices while improving your bottom line. You can also download our free guide that gives you 25 eco-friendly hotel practices that you can start implementing right away!