Eco-tourism has ceased to be a niche market, although not every eco-conscious traveller is heading for exotic natural destinations to live in harmony with nature and indigenous communities. Many travellers just want to be responsible tourists and welcome any efforts that hotels make to be more sustainable.
The green guest also wants to feel good about their stay. They dream about spending time in fresh, comfortable surroundings, eating delicious, locally sourced organic food and using beautiful, natural products. As for hotel owners, they want to give their customers that idyllic experience – but wouldn’t say no to some cost cutting efficiency measures either.
If you’re that hotel owner and are wondering how to go about greening your hotel, here are five suggestions to get you started…
1.State your intention.
- Huddle with your best people, your insightful bubbly employees, your faithful regular customers and of course your favourite eco warrior.
- Write down the details of your collective passion to do good and put it somewhere for all to see. Now you have an environmental policy!
2.Consider how many of those beautiful, natural and organic products are available to you right now.
- A good starting point would be to list all the products that go through your hotel.
- Task the enthusiastic eco warrior to find the most sustainable alternatives within budget.
- Cleaning products might be a good place to start. There are increasing numbers of environmentally friendly products on the market. They are generally more expensive than other products so finding ways to be economical with them is essential, such as reducing the quantities used by training your cleaning staff, using refill options and making your own sprays from concentrate.
- Write down your commitment and how you are going to approach buying green. Now you have a sustainable procurement policy!
3.Ask your chef to investigate whether there are opportunities to make the food you serve more sustainable.
- Are there any local sources of organic food?
- Maybe try some vegetarian dishes; did you know that the production of meat has a much higher environmental impacts than non-meat produce (such as vegetables, but also cheese or eggs?).
- Do your guests often leave meat on their plates? You can also try reducing portions of meat and increasing vegetable servings to lower the impact of the plates you serve.
- Make sure you benefit from your efforts by letting your guests know – add information on your menu, for instance.
4.Minimise waste and reuse or recycle absolutely everything else.
- Try to eliminate single-use plastic wherever possible. Plastic litter is a significant global problem. The pollution of our world’s seas has captured the attention of the conscious consumer. They will be grateful for any assistance you can give them in reducing the plastic consumption caused by their behaviour.
- You may have different bins in your kitchen or office, but have you gone one step further and asked your guests to sort by providing them recycling bins in the rooms?
- Sorting is really good, but significant amounts of energy, water and labour still go into the production and recycling processes. Have you thought of ways to avoid throwing things away in the first place?
- Discuss with your staff. They are inside your business processes every day and may have good ideas about how to minimise waste or retain product value for as long as possible. Also suppliers are often more than happy to work with their customers to minimise or reuse packaging.
5.Saving energy is good for everyone, resulting in reduced environmental impact and cost.
- If you are starting from scratch, you could begin by monitoring your energy consumption and benchmarking against other hotels of a similar size. This may help to identify the scale of the savings opportunity. Don’t worry if you’re a bad performer to begin with, it’s going to feel great when you start seeing those consumption figures – and costs! – come down.
- Switching off energy consuming equipment when not in use is an excellent start. Collaborating with the natural motivators in your hotel to engage staff is likely to create a more positive experience. Making use of timers and building management systems where available can help with this process.
- Did you know that all areas in your hotel do not have to be heated to the same temperature? There may be opportunities to save energy by reducing temperatures to recommended levels.
Moving to a more sustainable lifestyle is a challenge for all of us. You will see that your efforts will pay off, both in terms of customer satisfaction and savings. Don’t be afraid to ask your environmentally conscious tourists for their opinion on how you can improve your green credentials in their eyes!