As more and more people vote with their dollars to combat climate change, reduce waste, and curtail damages we inflict on the planet, hoteliers are compelled to re-examine their priorities and cater to the growing environmental and sustainability concerns of guests.
In a 2021 Sustainable Travel Report published by Booking.com, 83 percent of travelers believe sustainable travel is important, particularly so in the wake of a global pandemic. However, despite a majority of hospitality providers claiming to have integrated some level of sustainability on their premises, only one-third proactively communicate those green initiatives to prospective guests.
Beyond the benefits of long-term cost savings, enhanced guest marketing, and a net-positive environmental impact, there are many reasons that support the adoption of hotel sustainability practices in 2023 and moving forward.
From minimizing waste and water consumption to monitoring carbon output with transparent reporting, the standards of hotel sustainability are becoming much stricter as discerning guests stay keen on which efforts are actually green, and which ones are simply a hotelier’s superficial attempts to appear more sustainable.
1. Guest Education Initiatives
One key strategy starts with guest education. Having a set of systems in place to inform guests about the hotel’s sustainability practices and how they can reduce their environmental impact during their stay is an effective step in promoting sustainability efforts.
Simple examples include encouraging guests to conserve water and energy by opting to reuse towels and bedding during their stay, turning off lights when leaving the room, and making it easy to recycle materials whenever possible rather than throwing everything into the trash.
Being a catalyst for positive change starts with educating your hotel guests and effectively communicating its sustainability priorities. By raising awareness about sustainable behaviors and encouraging guests to make more eco-conscious choices, hotels promote and facilitate a guest experience that feels more connected to the local environment and culture.
2. Installation of Shower Counters
While it may sound simple in theory, another effective strategy is the installation of shower counters, which track the amount of time (or perceived water usage) during each shower. Shower counters represent a hybrid between guest education and water management strategies, and they offer a low-cost solution that can pay substantial dividends on water savings.
In addition to increasing guest awareness of what sustainability behaviors are in their control, hoteliers can consider being more proactive in integrating reminders and controls to let guests know when they’re wasting energy. This not only provides guests with feedback on their water and energy consumption but also encourages them to be more mindful of their environmental impact.
3. Water-Saving Measures
A vital sustainability best practice at scale, green hotels are starting to implement water-saving measures – such as low-flow showerheads and toilets, aerators on faucets, and greywater recycling systems – in order to significantly reduce water consumption. By reducing water usage, hotels can contribute to conservation efforts while saving money on water utility bills and demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.
Take, for example, sustainable shower heads. According to the Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, older shower heads use as much as six to eight gallons of water per minute (gpm) — meaning a fifteen minute shower uses 90-120 gallons. Modern, sustainable shower heads use 20% of that, greatly reducing water waste.
Water-saving measures also factor into equipment upgrades including toilets, sinks, dishwashers, laundry machines, and ice machines. For large hotels where every drop of water is important, the savings accrued from taking steps to reduce water wastage can add up to be massive over the course of only one year.
4. Reducing Overall Use of Plastics
In terms of waste management, abandoning the dependency on plastics is a powerful hotel sustainability trend that’s gaining traction on a global scale. This is being achieved by replacing single-use plastics with eco-friendly alternatives, such as biodegradable or reusable containers, cutlery, and straws. Hotels can also encourage guests to use reusable water bottles by providing abundant refill stations throughout the property.
Reducing the overall use of plastics is especially critical for a hotel’s food and beverage sustainability. On-the-go items have largely relied on plastic packaging, and having more recycling disposals does not provide a real solution to the issue. Increasing the caliber of sustainability in hotels isn’t only about reducing plastic waste – it’s about whether a hotel is using sustainable means to source and deliver its consumables.
5. Implementing Smart Rooms
Another innovative strategy that can improve both the guest experience and environmental impact is the adoption of smart room technology. Smart rooms utilize IoT and WiFi connectivity to optimize energy usage, including lighting, temperature control, and water consumption – all of which can significantly influence overall consumption and the hotel’s carbon footprint.
Other examples of sustainability-driven smart rooms include:
- Motion and occupancy sensors that detect whether a room is being used, thereby controlling lighting and other smart technologies
- Smart HVAC systems that are optimized to calculate occupancy and regulate heating/cooling output
- Motorized window blinds and coverings that are programmed to know when it’s time to close in order to prevent heat gain
- Telemetry and wastewater treatment technologies that can detect leaks and help avoid water waste
By leveraging smart room technology to promote hotel sustainability practices, hoteliers can provide a modern and eco-conscious experience for their guests from the ground up.
6. Monitoring Carbon Footprints
Finally, hotels can implement measures to monitor their carbon footprint and better understand their environmental impact and identify areas for improvement. Carbon footprint monitoring involves tracking the hotel’s energy consumption, waste production, and transportation emissions, and setting goals for reducing these factors over time.
By measuring a facility’s carbon footprint and implementing strategies to reduce it, hotels can leverage insightful reports to measure their environmental impact. In turn, hoteliers can confidently promote sustainability in an effort to accommodate the growing demands of eco-conscious travelers.
Establish the Infrastructure to Support Your Hotel Sustainability Practices
All aspects of hotel sustainability – be it environmental, economic, social, or cultural – are becoming significantly vital for travelers. While hoteliers may have ideas to encourage certain sustainability practices, without the proper technological infrastructure to support those ideas, they can be difficult to implement.
At Blueprint RF, we specialize in the foundational technologies and WiFi systems to help hotels adapt to the green evolution toward sustainable lodging and hotel accommodations. If technology is a major pitfall to your hotel’s growth, contact us to learn more about how we can help.