By Vijay Dandapani ~ Hotelier's outlook on NYC, travel and the industry
Tuesday, 1st October 2013
Like nearly every hospitality conference in the world, the Lodging Conference in Phoenix AZ, devoted some time to green initiatives though more as a by-product of other topics.
Most hospitality operators remain firmly convinced of the bottom line driven aspect of these initiatives and with some exceptions it is largely true.
Whether using compactors to reduce waste size, bio-mass boilers and other renewable energy sources for hot water or ensuring bio-degradable disposable materials for guest use it is considered de-rigueur as customers seemingly demand it.
Nevertheless, It is not clear that customers believe an estabilishment's claims on green initiatives much less pay a premium for it. The latter point was underscored in a survey by market research firm GfK research conducted last year where it was found that "green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase."
Unfortunately, greenwashing, where customers are misled deliberately or not about a product or service's environmentally friendly aspects, occurs with distressing regularity and involves big and small firms. For instance, a recent finding by an ombudsman in Denmark showed that Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle advertising campaign was misleading and that it failed to change policy when breaches were brought to its attention.
Unhelpful from a pricing perspective for green initiatives is a fresh report courtesy of the Heartland Institute which quotes peer-reviewed research as noting that "anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are not causing a global warming crisis."
Picking up on that is a recent issue of the Advertising Age where an article points to increasing skepticism among consumers about the veracity of greenclaims as the "percentage of consumers who say they don't know if companies' environmental claims are accurate doubled to 22% between 2008 and 2013".
The foregoing does not indicate a stalling of green initiatives as there are tangible cost savings that companies derive whether or not customers are prepared to recognize and pay a premium for them.
For instance, triple glaze pane for windows, widely used in cold weather Scandinavian countries and mandated in Switzerland, not only reduces the "u-value" or thermal performance of the building but also serves to reduce the noise level exponentially when compared to double glaze which is pretty standard in US hotels.
Apart from dramatically lowering heating/cooling bills (one internationally acclaimed architect at the Lodging Conference noted with just a hint of exaggeration that a Swiss home can be heated by a hair dryer) hotels in high decibel cities like New York actually could translate that into a premium from guests grateful for a good night's sleep.
The latter benefit besides being a USP has, thus far, apparently not been adequately heralded.
Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.
Read Vijay's blog HERE