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Increasing Guest Participation in Hotel Sustainability Efforts [INFOGRAPHIC]

Hotel sustainability is a team effort. It must be the focus of every employee as well as every manager. But even more importantly, guests must be on board with the effort in order to make a significant difference. The hotel-guest relationship is a partnership, after all. Here’s how hotel staff and guests can work together to enhance hotel sustainability efforts.

Here are some of the most effective sustainability programs for hotels, based on data from Cornell University.

Maximum Impact: The Most Common Hospitality Sustainability Programs

Hotels are currently implementing many different programs, some big and others quite small. Regardless of size, though, each contributes greatly to a resort’s overall carbon footprint and helps to set a standard for other businesses. Environmental awareness and mounting pressure from regulatory groups is driving sustainability compliance to higher level than ever before, according to according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Some businesses are emerging as green leaders with just a little more effort, creating positive publicity and effecting further change in industry expectations. A March 2015 report by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration surveyed 100 resorts and 120,000 guests to better understand common sustainability programs and methods to boost guest participation. Cornell’s survey found many common sustainability efforts, including installing water-efficient appliances, linen reuse programs and various recycling initiatives. To reduce their carbon footprint even further, researchers suggest that hotels implement the following changes, in addition to continuing their current efforts:

  • Implement solar panels, which can generate up to 25 percent of the hotel’s needed energy
  • Install an air-to-water heating pump in the swimming pool, saving 50 percent more energy than a conventional pump
  • Compost organic waste to create fertilizer
  • Use refillable dispensers for soap and shampoo in bathrooms
  • Donate old, unwanted furniture to charities
  • Sell or recycle used equipment, especially electronics

Incentivizing Guest Participation

While the study found that most guests do not take green initiatives into account when finding a hotel, almost 75 percent said they would actively participate in hotel sustainability programs during their stay. Not surprisingly, guests also indicated that they would be more likely to participate if incentives were offered. The report pointed out several examples of hotels currently offering green rewards programs, including the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen, which gives free meals for participants, and Starwood Hotels and resorts, which offers vouchers for linen re-use.

The bottom line: provide incentives for guests making eco-friendly choices. If multi-day guests elect not to change their bedsheets, have housekeeping leave a small gift on the nightstand. Alternatively, consider adding a small discount or waiving a fee for guests who minimize their use of paper products.

Smart Recycling For Old Electronics

Hotels are constantly striving to provide the latest in electronic equipment in their guest rooms. Yet, to conserve space, old models must be discarded each time a new electronic device is delivered. This creates significant waste, and improper disposal can lead to irreversible environmental damage. Fortunately, hotels and manufacturers are partnering to create new recycling programs with large participant incentives.

To specifically combat television e-waste, in 2015 Samsung introduced a limited-time TV buyback program for hotels which incentivized and assisted in eco-friendly disposal. With the purchase 50 or more new Hospitality TVs, participants were able to receive a cash rebate of up to $70 per set along with free pickup and recycling for the old units. By introducing programs such as these that encourage recycling old electronics in a responsible way, Samsung is doing its part to boost hotel sustainability.

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