Sustainability in hospitality: Do travelers truly care?

November 21st, 2014 by TRT Blog

This quarter we conducted an in-person survey of owners and operators attending the 2014 InterContinental Hotel Groups Investors and Leadership conference in Las Vegas. We covered topics from PIPs, to furniture, to sustainability. On the blog last week, we highlighted one of the most burning questions : Who is responsible for sustainability in the hospitality industry?Is it the owner, the operator, the brand or all of the above?  (Answer: All of the above)

This week, we want to take a step back. Without understanding the urgency behind sustainable practices, green initiatives, and a commitment to environmental responsibility; owners, operators, and brand managers may be slow to come together on the issue.

We asked them if they feel that sustainability is important to guests. The response was comforting, with 78 percent stating: Yes, more than ever.

Although it’s reassuring to see the majority agree with a topic we feel strongly about, almost a fifth (19 percent) thought ‘only in some cases’. From our experience, spanning three decades of working in the hospitality industry, this is when decision makers think that being sustainable will eat away at more budget. However, we know the opposite to be true. With furniture asset management alone, it’s not uncommon to see budget savings of more than 80 percent.

Eco-awareness is at an all time high, and the attitude of the traveller has changed. Millennials booking vacations today are educated and passionate about making the world a greener place, and services like TripAdvisor make browsing a location’s sustainable ratings easier than ever.

The Refinishing Touch asks hotel owners, operators and brands: Is sustainability important to guests?

The Refinishing Touch asks hotel owners, operators and brands: Is sustainability important to guests?

The consensus, from The Refinishing Touch and our peers, is that sustainability is  indeed important to guests, and the best possible solution is a combative approach from owners, operators, and brands across the board.

There is much more where this came from. If you’d like to receive our full Industry Insight report, please sign up here.

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Take Our Survey

November 18th, 2014 by admin

Which method of sustainability do you believe is the most important for universities?

a. Recycling and reuse
b. Composting
c. Energy efficiency
d. Water efficiency

The Net Impact conference: A green impact of our future

November 18th, 2014 by TRT Blog

The Refinishing Touch team attends numerous industry events, including those that cover higher education, hospitality. or government topics, and we’re always keen to network, learn from our peers, and get involved.

Last week, the Net Impact conference made its way to Minneapolis and while we couldn’t make the even, we followed all of the news and innovations closely. Net Impact is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the next-generation of leadership to use the power of business to drive social and environmental change.

outline map of canada on blackboardTo do so, the organization works with college students, as well as professionals and partners, through on-campus chapter programs, campaigns, and events. The 2014 Net Impact conference focused on breaking boundaries and exploring creative solutions to our earth’s problems.

With more than 350 speakers, 100 live sessions, and nearly 3,000 students and professionals in attendance, the event was a success. Dani Schruter of Environmental Initiative attended the conference, and was impressed with the facilities ability to lead by example, with many environmental initiatives of its own in place, as well as the youth in attendance.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the next generation of environmentalists is ready to tackle the challenges ahead of us face on,” said Schruter.

This is an inspiring, and comforting point. As professionals well versed in the ins and outs of on-campus sustainability, The Refinishing Touch has worked with many different institutions over the years, including Georgetown University and the University of Wisconsin-Stout to name a few. We understand that the true future of our world lies with tomorrow’s generation and the education they are given today.

If you’d like to learn more about Net Impact, please visit its website here.

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Hotel owners, operators or brands: Who is responsible for sustainability?

November 14th, 2014 by TRT Blog

For more than thirty-five years our team has implemented on-site furniture asset management services to hoteliers across the United States and Canada. By refinishing, reupholstering, and re-manufacturing existing assets throughout hotels and resorts, we enable hoteliers to update their properties while staying within brand guidelines, lowering budget spend, carbon footprints, and guest room downtime.

As a leader in our market, we take time and effort to understand the individuals, businesses, and organizations we work with. So while attending this year’s IHG conference  alongside brands such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, EVEN Hotels, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and Hotel Indigo, we took the time to run a detailed survey of the opinions around sustainability, furniture asset management, and general opinions of those that attended. We’re going to be publishing the full report later this month. You can sign up for a free copy here.

Out of the range of questions that we asked, one was about who is responsible for sustainability? We found some interesting results. Of the individuals that we surveyed, a fifth felt that the owner has responsibility for introducing and driving sustainable initiatives, while less than a fifth (16 percent) said that they thought the operator should be responsible. A slightly higher number, 22 percent, said that the brand should be responsible, while 41 percent said that introducing and running sustainable initiatives should be a collective responsibility.

The Refinishing Touch asks hotel owners, operators and brands: Who is responsible for sustainability?

The Refinishing Touch asks hotel owners, operators and brands: Who is responsible for sustainability?

We’ve done a huge volume of sustainable work with hotels. Brands, owners, and operators we’ve completed work for include the IHG brands named above alongside Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Residence Inn, Four Points, Sheraton, Best Western, Comfort Inn and Suites, Econo Lodge, Hyatt, LaQuinta Inn and Suites, Quality Inn, Radisson, Red Lion Hotel, as well as many boutique and independent hotels.

While we see that the view of collective responsibility is good, and certainly a move in the right direction, we’re still surprised at how almost three-fifths of hoteliers and those working in hospitality think that environmental responsibility could successfully be the responsibility of one stakeholder: be it the owner, the operator, or the brand. We all face a huge challenge in addressing the need to be more sustainable in our day-to-day and business activities. In the hospitality industry this includes each hotel owner, every operator, and all brands. We know from the thousands of projects we have completed, that the best, most efficient and well-considered sustainability projects are those that are a collective responsibility – designed, implemented and driven by all stakeholders.

We will be sharing more of our findings from the IHG 2014 Conference, as well as advice to owners, operators, and brands that want to implement cost-efficient, responsible, and efficient furniture asset management solutions in upcoming posts. If you’d like to register for the full report and findings that we will be publishing later this month, please fill out the short form here.

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Take Our Survey

November 12th, 2014 by admin

Which method of sustainability do you believe is the most important for hotels?

a. Recycling and reuse
b. Composting
c. Energy efficiency
d. Water efficiency

Happy Veterans Day from The Refinishing Touch

November 11th, 2014 by TRT Blog

Veterans Day is about honoring all those that serve in the armed forces. The date is based on Armistice Day, which was proclaimed on November 11 to mark the end of World War 1 on the ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ in 1918. American flag

The Refinishing Touch has spent more than thirty-five years working in local and federal government edifices across the nation including naval and army bases. We are honored and proud to be in service with our armed forces and to support our committed, courageous troops.

We would like to take this opportunity to personally and professionally thank all who serve and those who have served our country during war and peacetime. Our team is thankful to each and every one, including their families, for their commitment and their sacrifice for our country.

We hope each of our readers take the time to honor United States veterans, not just on this special day, but every day.

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Travel trends: Where are Americans heading?

November 7th, 2014 by TRT Blog

When it comes to traveling, Americans, including American hoteliers, are in an enviable position.  America is the third largest country in the world, covering 3.79 million square miles, with an abundance of cultures, terrains and thousands of world-famous monuments and attractions. This means that as well as attracting millions of international visitors each year, America is also an attractive travel destination for millions of Americans. So where do they head?

airplanerecent study by Hotels Combined looked to provide some answers to this by analyzing 87,000 American bookings to see the origin of booking location and the destination booked. The company’s analysis found that for intra-American travel, California topped the most-visited state followed by Florida, Nevada, Texas and New York.

Which states do residents travel to the most? The analysis answered this by reviewing the number of bookings made in each state and then using US Census Bureau statistics to take that proportion of each state’s total population. D.C. was the state with the highest per capita bookings. Surprisingly, D.C. is followed by Hawaii. Maine was the state that booked the least amount of travel in the analysis.

This is a snapshot of travel based on the bookings of one travel site, but it shows some interesting facts. Of course travel also reflects social and economic trends. For example, it’s no coincidence that the states that make the most bookings are also the states that show higher household incomes.

The Refinishing Touch has operated in tens of thousands hotel rooms across the continental USA. While we work in every state, we often work in  what are known as ‘travel hotspots’, including California, New York, and Nevada. We see the demand for furniture asset management , including refinishing, re-upholstery and remanufacturing, all over the United States. We work in every style of hotel including but not limited to five-star resorts, time shares, full service hotels, focused service hotels, casinos, and boutique hotels. Whatever the trends are in terms of traveling to American destinations, we know that the commitment to sustainability, asset management, and budget conscious decisions is one trend that is set to continue.

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Take Our Survey

November 5th, 2014 by admin

Do you think going completely green is realistic for the US?

a. Yes
b. Yes, but there will be challenges
c. No

Facebook keeps lips closed on carbon dioxide emissions 

November 4th, 2014 by TRT Blog

Part of our vision is to help organizations in hospitality, education and government to reduce their impact on their environment. If you know us at all, you know that one measure we use consistently across projects and with our clients is carbon dioxide emissions, or carbon footprint – our carbon footprint calculator shows the impact of buying new furniture compared to furniture asset management techniques such as refinishing.

We’re not alone in our bid to reduce carbon footprint size. Businesses, public associations, and governments are increasingly committed to reducing their impact on the environment – and to quantify their results. We know ourselves that our customers not only want to know what their carbon footprint has been reduced by, they want to share it. Earlier this year we shared our ‘cut the carbon’ infographic to highlight some of the facts behind carbon dioxide emissions.

Yet there are businesses out there that may be ‘talking the talk’ they are not ‘walking the walk’. This includes social networking behemoth Facebook, which has refused to share essential data with the Carbon Disclosure Project that would show the company’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and could be used as a benchmark to monitor the company’s carbon-related activities year-on-year.

The Carbon Disclosure Project, or CDP, is an international, not-for-profit organization that provides a system to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. CDP works with institutional investors with assets of more than $92 trillion to motivate companies to disclose their impact on the environment and natural resources – and take action to reduce them.

We say ‘talking the talk’ as Facebook not only has a huge standing among green-conscious millennials but was one of the founding companies behind which encourages millennials to “Take meaningful action. Choose to make a difference.” It seems hypocritical to have a large footprint in the millennial market and to keep your carbon footprint a secret.

Unfortunately Facebook isn’t alone – a handful of other companies that refused to share carbon-related data with the Carbon Disclosure Project include Amazon, Time warner Cable and Comcast.

But it’s not all bad news.  In its report, ‘The A List: The CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014’ the CDP shares the 187 businesses that: ‘”demonstrated a superior approach to climate change mitigation,” citing BMW, Centrica, Samsung Electronics and Unilever.  The CDP also calculates that the climate performance leaders have reduced emissions by 33 million metric tons in the last year – which is apparently the equivalent to turning all of London’s car owners into cyclists for two and a half years.  That’s a great statistic to share – even over Facebook.

Check out our full  ‘Cut the Carbon and the Cost’ infographic here.

The Refinishing Touch_Cut the carbon and the cost infographic

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Industry spotlight: Ron Thompson, director of housing and residence life, Furman University

October 31st, 2014 by TRT Blog

We’re pleased to welcome Ron Thompson, the director of housing and residence life at Furman University. Based in South Carolina, Furman University is one of the nation’s top undergraduate liberal arts universities with a strong community where all students are housed onsite for four years, and an internationally-acclaimed campus which is recognized for its beauty. Ron shares some of his insights into higher education facilities management at Furman University with our readers.

In my day-to-day role I work with partners across campus – internal operations, financial services, academic affairs and, of course, facilities services. I’m also a bridge between residents and behind-the-scenes employees, and understand first-hand the importance of furniture asset management to all involved.

Furniture asset management can be tricky business, particularly in the higher education industry. All of our students live onsite, so their environment is a major part of their decision-making process, as well as their quality of life once they’ve enrolled. Developing a comfortable, well-maintained and healthy student environment requires both foresight and planning.

Versatility is also key. College campuses such as ours are used to host tradeshows, conferences and summer camps during the longer vacations. Furniture assets must not only be relevant to each of these audiences, but able to sustain the additional wear and tear.

At Furman we recognize the importance of well-maintained and updated assets, including furniture. So we have a furniture asset management strategy and plan that is clearly articulated to staff across departments – housing services, facilities, financial. This is essential to reducing costs, reducing downtime and ensuring satisfaction to all those we serve. With a clear understanding of your establishment’s furniture inventory at all times, it is simple to map out what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and what it will cost.

It’s also important to realize that it’s not all about buying new. We have utilized refinishing services on more than one occasion. Quality pieces need not be disposed of due to an outdated look and feel – refinishing provides a cost-friendly face-lift.

Last but not least, always consider the green approach. Consider and adopt LEED standards wherever possible. Be sure that your sustainability office is present for housing decision-making. And offer your students environmentally-friendly options such as recycling, energy management and water management.

At Furman, we’re proud of our Engaged Living program – which offers first year students a variety of on-campus communities to live in including an environmental community, where students live in our most sustainable facilities and enroll in environmental courses.

Higher education professionals at all levels have a difficult job. But the proper management of furniture assets can bring peace of mind to housing directors, financial staff and facilities management across campus.

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