Why green needs to be led from the top: A lesson from Unilever’s Paul Polman

December 17th, 2014 by TRT Blog

This week there has been coverage, ideas and blunt language coming from the Global Landscapes Forum, held alongside United Nations climate negotiations. The press coverage has included discussions about carbon credits; the interplay between developing and developed countries; local and international policies; biodiversity and deforestation; and a review of the activities which impact our effort to address climate change.

One line of reporting that caught our eye was that which covered the address from Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman. You’ll have, undoubtedly, heard of Unilever but you may not know the company’s scale: it is the third largest consumer good conglomerate in the world, just behind Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, with products sold in more than 190 countries.

Paul Polman not only spoke about the “inconvenient facts” on how corporates and certain sectors impact climate change, he admitted that his company and his sector was part of the problem and needed to change. He stated “Most CEOs, I’m convinced of now, know that their companies cannot prosper in a world with runaway climate change. This is increasingly evident.”

We understand that Polman and his views do not represent every CEO. Yes, he is a CEO of a successful Fortune 500 company who is handsomely-compensated for exceeding growth targets and meeting shareholder expectations. That does not make him different. What makes him different is that this is accompanied by a very public commitment to being a green CEO.  He openly shares these views and as such is creating a legacy for the Unilever brand and building on its global reputation, while meeting all the other global challenges presented to him as chief executive.

In our role as experts in furniture asset management working with hospitality, education and government organizations, we understand the need for every type of organization to be driven by a vision and a mission. A commitment to sustainability and to green initiatives and environmental targets needs to be led from the top, to be woven into that vision. When sustainability is a top-level vision it means that all activities which impact the business: its assets, its infrastructure, and its day-to-day impact on the environment, are all taken into account.

We understand that each organization and every business faces different challenges: growth, maintaining standards, balancing budgets against spend. But to see corporate leaders such as Paul Polman stand up and to show that a company of Unilever’s size can demonstrate successful business while integrating sustainability from the very top, is a lessonto every organization of every kind and of every size.

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Take Our Survey

December 17th, 2014 by admin

Do you believe the Canadian government is doing everything it can to be green?

a. Yes
b. No
c. I’m not sure

Hotels and resorts must seize the moment to ride economic upswing

December 12th, 2014 by TRT Blog

Hotel industry commentary: the opportunity According to the December edition of the PKF Hospitality Research’s Hotel Horizons forecast report, every segment of the US lodging industry is set to enjoy strong performance for the foreseeable future. This positive outlook stems from a perfect storm of good economic news, including rising levels of employment, low-energy prices for hoteliers and travelers, and the continued geographic expansion of the national economic recovery.

Previous research from PKF-HR revealed that improvements in employment have an enormous impact on the performance of lower priced chain hotels, while hikes in income heighten demand for higher priced lodging. 

R. Mark Woodworth, president of PKF-HR, told HotelNewsNow: “No matter what hotel performance indicator you look at for any type of hotel, we foresee extremely favorable movements the next few years. We are projecting demand growth to outpace changes in supply in the US through 2016, resulting in industry-wide occupancy levels at, or above, all-time record levels through 2017.”

To secure maximum occupancy throughout this predicted upswing in business, it is now vital that all forward-thinking business owners and managers across the US lodging industry ensure that their properties are in optimal shape.

An unbeatable, affordable and environmentally safe way to make travelers happy and drive repeat business in the long term is efficient furniture asset management. Here at The Refinishing Touch we have been helping the hospitality sector restore furniture assets through innovative refinishing, reupholstery and  remanufacturing techniques for almost four decades, so we are poised and ready to help our customers get into the best possible shape to secure maximum room rates over the next few years.

Woodworth summed up the good news: “Employment gains translate into strong revenue per room (RevPAR) forecasts for all segments of the US lodging industry. With scarcity now a reality for consumers in many markets for a growing number of property types, hotel operators will have the leverage they need to drive room rates well above the pace of inflation. Real average daily room rate (ADR) growth driving RevPAR will contribute to a six year period of double-digit increases in hotel profits; something we have not seen in the 78 years PKF has been tracking the US lodging industry.”

To guarantee that your accommodations will be ready and welcoming for an increased volume of guests, contact us today, request a quote or discover how we have helped the world’s leading hotel chains.


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December 3rd, 2014 by admin

Do you believe the US government is doing everything it can to be green?

a. Yes
b. No
c. I’m not sure

Signing up to support sustainability: The call for a new TripAdvisor rating

December 2nd, 2014 by TRT Blog

TripAdvisor already recognizes hotels and resorts that are leading the pack in sustainability through its GreenLeader program, which combines traveler feedback, business reporting and third-party audits to grade an establishment’s eco-friendly practices. Consumers looking to incorporate green initiatives into their travel plans are able locate the GreenLeader rating of a hotel, which range from Bronze to Platinum.

The Refinishing Touch gives tips on how hotels can go greenHowever, Nordic Comfort Hotel and the Rainforest Foundation Norway are urging TripAdvisor to do more.  On the site, users currently rate the service, food, value and atmosphere of hotels and a new campaign is seeking the addition of a ‘sustainability’ button.

While the GreenLeader program is certainly a great accolade, and a draw for travelers already passionate and willing to research the topic of sustainability, having it woven into the most prominent aspect of TripAdvisor’s ratings would inspire hoteliers worldwide to step up their game.

Mathilde Vik Magnussen, a spokesperson for Nordic Choice Hotels, understands the urgency of the situation and said: “Sustainability is a necessary prerequisite for the future of the hotel industry, and the proposed change might be exactly what is needed to push this matter to the top of our agenda.

What do you think – would you rate hotels on their environmental efforts? If so, sign up to support the cause at DearTripAdvisor.com.

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A sustainable economy: Can higher education set the bar?

November 28th, 2014 by TRT Blog

Recently, Inside Higher Ed showcased a piece from a collegiate administrator, G. Rendell, pushing for a more sustainable balance on his campus, and throughout the world. The piece, entitled Sustainability commandment #3, discusses the complex idea of a sustainable economy.

As professionals helping on-campus facility managers achieve sustainable renovations, we understand the difficulty of defining objectives, setting goals and communicating processes to everybody involved. Creating a sustainable economy, whether it is across campus, across multiple locations, or even worldwide, is difficult.

Green Meeting_June 25Rendell cites the third sustainable commandment as: “The economy exists to serve society, not the other way around. Thus, maintain an economy which is sufficient to provide the goods and services required to support happy, healthy living for all members of society.  And do it in such a manner that the resources consumed by economic activity don’t exceed the levels which the planet can supply indefinitely.

It’s an important message, and one that all industries should keep in mind. It’s important to remain successful in your business, but it is imperative to do so without taking more than you can give back to the environment.

Many higher education organizations continue to set an exemplary example for businesses and to other industries. They do this by fostering youth to be educated and empowered on the subject of eco-awareness, and to introduce sustainable initiatives within their own organizations.

A sustainable economy is a challenge, but one that is accomplished by the hard work of many college professionals, students and the greater green community.


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November 25th, 2014 by admin

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving from The Refinishing Touch!

November 25th, 2014 by TRT Blog

It’s the time of year for gratitude and The Refinishing Touch team has so much be thankful for.  We’ve completed numerous projects across our three core industries; hospitality, university, and government, including great projects with The Michelangelo Hotel, Westin Helmsley and Hotel Commonwealth to name a few.

thanksgiving-turkeyWe’ve delivered four new editions of our quarterly newsletter, InTouch, and collected responses from so many of you on our weekly blog polls. We’ve conducted studies around green behaviors including In Reuse We TrustThe Green Grading System and Cut the Carbon and the Cost as well as seen attitudes change from decision makers, facilities managers, brand owners, and operators alike, showing an increasing commitment to furniture asset management and all the benefits that it brings.

With so much behind us, and so much to look forward to, The Refinishing Touch family would like to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday. We are so thankful for each of our readers, customers, and supporters each and everyday.


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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

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