Blog poll result: Sustainability – are hoteliers and campus facility managers doing enough?

April 8th, 2014 by TRT Blog

As we move deeper into April, we have Earth Day on our minds (be sure to mark your calendars for April 22nd). While sustainability is a common theme for our weekly blog polls, we wanted to take the time to look back on some other important questions posed in recent months.

It’s undeniable that facilities managers across each of our main sectors – hospitality, government and higher education – are working hard to implement green programs, processes and products. However, it is also undeniable that there is ample room left for improvement.

So, we asked our loyal readers two questions. The first was: Do you feel that hotels need to increase the number of sustainable establishments available to guests? 

The Refinishing Touch blog poll: Sustainability /green questionsThe results were mixed. Half of you felt as though hoteliers’ current green initiatives are making adequate impact, while the other half of those polled weren’t so confident.

In an industry with an expansive, worldwide presence and massive energy output, sustainability in every sense of the word is imperative. And with new green ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor, guests are more attuned to green accolades now than ever before.

We also had the same question for the higher education sector: Do you feel that colleges need to increase the number of sustainable housing options available to students? 

While one-third of respondents felt that the industry is currently doing its fair share of environmental perseveration, the remaining two-thirds stated that university housing and facility staff needs to be more proactive in implementing eco-friendly best practices.

In the higher education sphere, awareness and action have the potential to do more good than any other. College campuses are full of young adults ready and willing to learn and create life-long habits. By creating a living and learning environment in which sustainability is integral, these campuses are ensuring a greener future.

Do you have a question you’d like to see on our weekly blog polls? Tweet it at us at @RefinishTouch and check out our website.

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Americans have caught the travel bug again

September 20th, 2013 by TRT Blog

This year, 83% of Americans will pack their bags and head for the hills – or wherever their pent-up wanderlust may take them.

airplaneThis high number of projected travelers for 2013 – as highlighted in a recent study done by Priceline.com – is up as much as 50% when compared to recent years. Following a period of economic downturn, the hospitality and travel industries have begun to see an increase in new reservations.

Travelers, however, are still looking to cut costs – driving nonstop, sleeping in scars and pre-packing meals – so, it is imperative to ensure guest satisfaction when they do, finally, arrive at your hotel, motel or resort.

By integrating appealing design aesthetics, cost-effective amenities and various sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives throughout facilities, hoteliers can garner and maintain a competitive edge, as well as increase guest retention rates.

By upcycling guest room, lobby and meeting space assets, the life of your pre-existing furniture can be extended at a fraction of the cost to buying new. In addition to preserving valuable assets, by using The Refinishing Touch’s low-VOC lacquers, the renovation process’ carbon footprint will be greatly diminished and appeal to the green tourist.

Would you like to see a project from beginning to end? Click here for a time-lapse video of The Refinishing Touch’s hospitality work. To request a free quote today, please visit our website

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A sustainable excursion: TripAdvisors adds green rankings to site

May 10th, 2013 by TRT Blog

The Refinishing Touch rewards 29 businesses with its Sustainability AwardsHoteliers, property managers and other professionals immersed in the hospitality industry are increasingly facing the need for greener practices and accommodations within their establishments. As a supplier of sustainable, cost-efficient services to countless resorts, hotels and motels for over 35 years, The Refinishing Touch has witnessed the industry change first-hand and is enthusiastic to see the environmental evolution continue.

According to a recent survey from TripAdvisor.com, analyzed responses from 1,300 U.S. travelers revealed that 62% of travelers almost always consider the environment when planning their vacations.  Furthermore, another 69% of respondents vouched they will make even more environmentally-conscious decisions in the year to come.

In response to the increase in consumer demand for eco-friendly amenities, TripAdvisor has launched its new rating service entitled ‘Green Leaders’. Having teamed up with Energy Star, the U.S. Green Building Council and the United Nations Environment Programme, the site will now feature a green button alongside other ratings, helping travelers easily sort through the most sustainable near their travel destination.

Ratings, which range from bronze to platinum, will be given based on various environmental practices such as implementation of linen and towel reuse programs, energy-efficiency appliances and practices, solar panels, green roofing and more. Since its launch, TripAdvisor states that 32 million members have utilized the service and over 100 million green reviews have already been written.

Consumers now have a number of ways to obtain information pertaining to a hotel’s green practices – a new deciding factor when making accommodations. In order to maximize business growth, hoteliers must implement sustainable alternatives – which doesn’t always have to break the bank.

For instance, The Refinishing Touch’s furniture asset management services, which include refinishing, re-upholstery and armoire conversion, achieve maximum cost savings and time efficiency while significantly reducing a renovation project’s estimated carbon footprint. Our studies suggest past clientele have saved over 80 percent in budget costs, and nearly 90 percent in carbon emissions. Similarly, we have also begun recognizing our clients for their commitment to sustainability through our Sustainability Awards, a program dedicated to honoring businesses that have reduced their environmental impact through furniture asset management solutions.

For more information about The Refinishing Touch and our furniture repurposing services, please visit our website here.  To inquire about how your own business can go greener, request a free quote today.

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Renovation Reality: Understanding the numbers of the hotel industry

August 7th, 2012 by TRT Blog

As we mentioned in our last blog post, we recently attended the BITAC Purchasing & Design East at the end of July and in addition to meeting some great contacts, we were also able to attend some very informative and educational sessions. One of which was a discussion with Bruce Ford, SVP of Business Development with Lodging Econometrics, a hotel industry research firm.

During the discussion, Bruce provided insight into the current hotel market, including why 27 months of industry improvement has increased the number of renovation projects.

Of the current construction trends, owners of hotel properties in need of renovation are increasingly making those restorations, instead of selling, with the goal of saving long-term money while enabling increased room rates. In fact, this trend has been so widespread, according to Bruce, hotel sale numbers are only half of what experts thought they would be for 2012.

Also, renovation tactics, including refinishing, reupholstering, and remanufacturing, are being used to meet corporate brand product improvement plans (PIPs), which can be pricey and difficult to fulfill. By renovating, as compared to buying new furniture, hotel owners are taking out fewer loans and minimizing upfront costs, while still maintaining their franchise status.

If you’re a hotel owner thinking about renovating, Bruce suggests you start planning now. Even though the summer, conference season and the holidays mean busy hotels for the foreseeable future, the offseason is right around the corner. To read the entire article on Bruce’s BITAC session, visit Hotel Interactive here.

And if you’re looking to complete renovations at your hotel, from armoire conversions to custom remanufacturing, contact The Refinishing Touch for a free quote.

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Operational Update: The PGA National Resort & Spa

July 31st, 2012 by TRT Blog

As the summer continues drawing to a close, The Refinishing Touch has kept busy during the past few months.  The team recently made their mark in hot and sunny Palm Beach Gardens, FL, by beginning a three phase project at The PGA National Resort & Spa, scheduled to be completed towards the end of the year.

Since 2007, The PGA National Resort & Spa has been a designated Florida Green Lodge by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, meeting luxurious standards while remaining environmentally-friendly.  The Floridian resort invests in numerous green initiatives, including energy efficient appliances, water conservation systems, along with recycling of paper, cardboard, oil and batteries.

With sustainability and brand standards in mind, The Refinishing Touch completed phase one of the 379-room renovation project earlier this month.  The team will undergo phase two in August, as we plan on reupholstering 144 king-sized and 190 double-sized bed headboards.  Along with the reupholstering, we will also refinish 325 dressers and 470 nightstands, all requiring a color change, glass installation and hardware replacement.

Our furniture asset management services will decrease the project’s carbon footprint by over 400 tons, an enormous drop for such a large-scale project.  Instead of the estimated CO2 impact of 474.9628 tons to replace the existing furniture with all new pieces, The Refinishing Touch will help keep the PGA Resort & Spa’s carbon footprint at a minimum – with an estimated final calculation of only 4.6996 tons.

The next time you find yourself in the Palm Beach Gardens area, be sure to book a stay at the PGA National Resort & Spa to experience luxury, comfort and sustainability – the definition of a championship experience.

This headboard is part of the first round of projects completed at The PGA Resort & Spa. The renovations were divided into three phases.

Example of completed room set to be unveiled in Fall 2012

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The best ways to travel green

January 31st, 2012 by TRT Blog

As the importance and need for sustainability grows, many businesses have begun taking action to reduce their carbon footprints and environmental impact. As traveling is a large part of most business ventures, the demand for eco-friendly travel options has continued to increase. Even though businesses are making more of an effort to pursue green travel plans and options, they often aren’t sure where to begin. Here is a list of ideas that can help businesses, and individuals, incorporate sustainability when traveling around the world:

Necessity: First make sure that a business trip is absolutely necessary. With the marvels of modern technology and great services such as Skype, GoToMeeting and Google+, it’s easy to utilize time and money with face-to-face meetings, even if you’re miles away, without ever leaving the office.

Public Transportation: Taking the subway, including to and from the airport, is a great way to reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Subways are fast and accessible and are conveniently located in most cities. Plus it saves money, as subway fare often costs far less than renting a car.

Hybrids/Eco-Friendly vehicles: If you happen to land in a location where public transportation is not readily available, many cities now flooded with hybrid taxis, and renting a hybrid car is also an easy way to save money on gas and reduce environmental impact.

Air Travel: As airplane travel produces 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, choosing an airline that is environmentally conscious can help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Germany’s Lufthansa and Air Canada have both made significant strides in obtaining a carbon-neutral status. If your choice of airline is limited, think about purchasing environmental credits to offset your plane travel emissions.

Lodging: Before booking a hotel room, research hotels that are implementing green initiatives. There is a growing trend in the hospitality world to go green, so these hotels shouldn’t be hard to find. If a certified green hotel isn’t in the cards, be conscious of your actions during your stay—opt out of every day linen and towel washing, during a short stay choose to decline room cleaning and remember to turn the lights off when you leave your room.

Dining: While most of your meals might be eaten on the run, if you have time to sit down look for restaurants, in your hotel or otherwise, that have implemented sustainable methods. Many restaurants these days will advertise where they’ve gotten their food, so choose dishes that feature locally, seasonally grown and organic ingredients to help reduce your carbon footprint and fill your belly.

While it’s not always easy to travel green, it’s important to make the effort to fly, lodge and eat as sustainability as possible to help save the environment and make our world a better place. To learn more about how businessmen and women are traveling green, read an interesting Financial Post article here.

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Royal Caribbean commits to sustainability

December 9th, 2011 by TRT Blog

When you think of cruises, you think of beautiful waters, fresh air and exotic destinations. But what people don’t tend to think about is the effect large cruise ships have on the pristine environments they’re traveling to.

However, Royal Caribbean has now committed to do that type of thinking for their passengers. The hospitality company has begun to convert all of their 42 ships, across five different brands, into sustainable, environmentally conscious vessels.The Refinishing Touch reports on Royal Caribbean Cruise sustainability

To do this Royal Caribbean has concentrated in three key areas. First, energy and air—each vessel has its own power plant on board, making efficiency a high priority. Over the last decade or so, Royal Caribbean worked to use 50% less energy per guest. Second, water—each boat purifies its water discharge before putting it off the boat. The company invested more than $100 million in this technology. And third, waste—Royal Caribbean estimates that each passenger produces 1.1 pounds of trash per day, which is about three pounds less than if they were to stay at home.

While such efforts often go unnoticed by traveling passengers, these are the type of steps that more companies should be taking to decrease their operational environmental impact and their carbon footprint. Because who wouldn’t want to go on a green vacation if they could?

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Refinishing Resource: Green travel tips

November 22nd, 2011 by TRT Blog

The holidays are gaining momentum to full swing. With it come those who are planning to travel to see friends and loved ones. It’s one of the busiest travel periods of the year, and because of that, increased carbon emissions are going to continue to be a large concern. For our refinishing resource this month, we want to pass along some green travel tips so wherever you go this holiday season, you do so responsibly. Travel green this holiday season with our tips

1. Be prepared. No matter where you’re going, remember to pack properly and completely. It’s happened to all of us where we begin a trip only to realize we left someone’s laptop or bag behind. Ensuring you’re ready to go when you begin your trip saves not only time but reduces any potential emissions that come from extra trips to pick up what was left behind.

2. Be efficient. If driving is in your future, be sure to rent or use your car efficiently. High MPG cars reduce carbon emissions obviously, but little things such as not charging portable electronics off the car battery and keeping windows up (it’s likely to be cold anyway, so why would the windows be down?) are two ways to improve your car’s efficiency and get the most mileage per tank.

3. Consider alternatives. Not everyone can drive to their holiday destination. If you must travel long distances, consider alternate modes whenever possible. A train ride, while longer, is the scenic route and overall an environmentally safer alternative to cars and planes. When flights are the only option, it’s the little things that add up. Packing lighter, using electronic tickets instead of paper and taking public transportation to the airport are all ways to lessen the emissions and the strain on our environment while getting to where you need to go.

4. Book green hotels. Finally, if you and/or your family are staying in a hotel, be sure to support those that support sustainable initiatives – there are many to choose from. Additionally, work on reducing energy use while you are a guest – switch your lights off when you’re out, re-use your towels wherever reasonable, and unplug chargers when you’re not using them.

We hope that no matter where you’re traveling, you do so safely and efficiently.

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The Refinishing Touch speaks with Glenn Haussman: Part 2

August 19th, 2011 by TRT Blog

Welcome to the second installment of our chat with Glenn Haussman of Hotel Interactive. If you missed the first part, click here to check it out.

TRT: If a hotel has gone through a complete renovation, say they’ve reopened after doing a 70 million dollar renovation, they advertise and promote it heavily do you think that does have an impact on the occupancy rate or the interest of travelers to book that particular hotel?

GH: Absolutely. I think that at the beginning of the Great Recession that we had (I hate using that term) it was really all about figuring out ways to take costs out of your hotel business. Now that we’ve done such a great job as an industry at paring down those costs, we need to try and maintain that cost structure without letting price creep back in, or raise rates. Renovation is a really smart, great way to freshen your property and be able to push those rates. You can then say, sure the guy down the road is charging a little less, but look at our great new product. And people want that new product. They want something new, they want something different, and they want something that feels refreshed. This is especially true if you’re doing it sustainably. If you’re able to figure out ways to be more sustainable while also lowering your ongoing costs while being more appealing to the consumer, I think that’s where you’re going to see a win-win.

TRT: With those renovations, do you have a sense of whether they are replacing old furniture with new. Do you have an idea of what that ratio might be?

GH: I think it really depends on each individual property. But what I can tell you is between 1995 and 2000 so many hotels opened up in this country and a lot of those hotels have not gone through a major refurbishment. They were thinking of doing it, but then the economy ducked down, so what we’re seeing now is a lot of pent up demand for renovations. And a good chunk of those properties are going to need to go through full renovations, which include having to replace some of those hardgoods. Now if they have an opportunity to not spend that kind of money and refresh their product, I think that’s going to be better. And here’s an interesting statistic about renovations: According to Lodging Econometrics, right now we’re seeing 10 times more rooms being renovated than are being built this year. And the same holds true for 2012.

TRT: With green initiatives but also cost savings, obviously refinishing is a combination of the best of both worlds, when you speak with others about these issues, what kind of responses are you getting?

GH: I think the audiences are very encouraged by the amount of renovations that are going to take place. And when it comes to the suppliers they’re downright ecstatic. Even though new construction has dried up for the time being, there are plenty of opportunities for them out there. And buyers, the ones who are refinishing these rooms are really starting to see projects pop. For a while now, the brands have kind of laid off the need for hoteliers to keep up with brand standards, and now they’re putting their foot down which is forcing owners to have to do renovations. The economy was so bad the brands were like “OK, OK, you don’t have to worry about the PIPs (Property Improvement Plans), we understand.” But you can only go so long by doing that without destroying the fundamental quality of each of those brands. And they have no choice now but to tighten the reins on people and say you have to put money into the property. I know a lot of people anecdotally who were saying “My business sucks” and in the last six months they’re like “Wow I can’t believe this happened. We’re getting call after call, we’re hiring people, and the jobs we’re getting are great, it’s fabulous.”

TRT: You mentioned increased occupancy. What do you ascribe this to? The economy is still struggling, why are you seeing increasing occupancy rate?

GH:  Well number one is people feel they have the right to travel, or they need to travel. Businesses sat on the side so much [without traveling] they can no longer afford to do that. They have to get out there and pound the pavement and meet clients. They have no choice. Further, the whole idea of businesses not having big group meetings has abated and meetings and incentive travel is resurging now. After the Obama administration pilloried it, everyone was kind of scared for a while, but that’s over and meetings are coming back in force.  Everyone I’ve talked to at the big convention hotels have said, “I’ve gotten nice business this year” and things have really solidified in their calendars for 2012 and ‘13.

TRT: In looking at the whole hospitality industry do you believe they have a strong focus on the green initiative or sustainability and how it can help their industry?

GH: I believe they have gone through a strong educational process the last few years, and green no longer the big buzz word that’s out there, and that’s good. Now that everyone has stopped talking about it as a concept, they’re now enacting it in their businesses. It’s no longer the hot new thing because everyone is doing it. Now everyone is digging down deep to figure out how they can incorporate sustainable elements into their properties and future projects. Again it’s being motivated by cost savings and not out of altruism, but I think the end result is really the same which is lower expenses and less impact on our environment.

TRT: Going back to value, when you go and book a stay at a property, you expect a good room that is well furnished and well serviced. What other types of value benefits do you think customers are looking for when choosing a hotel?

GH: They don’t want to feel like they’re being nickel and dimed.  One of the things that they want is true high speed internet access without paying an extra fee. I think people love a breakfast that’s included. People just want to know what the overall cost of their trip is going to be and not have to keep pulling money out of their pocket. And that’s why there’s been a great surge in all-inclusive types of properties.

TRT: Do you have a sense of whether the same issues are affecting properties overseas as well as the US? The same issues regarding value and keeping sustainability and costs low?

GH: While I can’t speak too much on this issue, I can say I do feel that Europe and Asia have done a much stronger job at following sustainability trends and really getting in there no matter what the cost. I think the culture of Europe in particular is demanding it more. And in Asia, there are so many hotels that are so new they incorporated a sustainable mindset into the development process.

TRT: What can hospitality learn from or even teach some of the other industries some of these best practices in terms of reuse, sustainability, renovations. Are there lessons that can be shared?

GH: Yes. I think the biggest lesson of all is that you can’t do the sustainability effort from the top down. I think you need to give the people in your organization the power over the program so that they feel emotionally engaged in the process. And by them taking it over, they’re going to come up with great ideas. They’re really going to spearhead those programs and make those businesses successful in the long run.

TRT: Glenn I appreciate your time and thank you for participating and giving us your ideas on sustainability and green initiatives.

GH: My pleasure, thanks so much for allowing me to share my thoughts.

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The Refinishing Touch speaks with Glenn Haussman: Part 1

August 16th, 2011 by TRT Blog

We’re pleased to have Glenn Haussman, editor-in-chief of Hotel Interactive join us to talk about the hospitality industry, the green initiatives within it and the next steps he sees the industry making to continue its recovery.

Glenn got into writing about the hospitality industry after being a music and entertainment writer. Unsurprisingly, he found celebrities to be disdainful and decided to move to the hospitality business because it’s the closest thing to living like a Hollywood rock star outside of Hollywood. Hard to argue when he gets to travel to some of the best locations and hotels around the country.

The Refinishing Touch: It’s been a fairly tough economy in the last few years, do you think that the industry has changed in any substantial way or has it been recovering from the downturn over the last few years?

Glenn Haussman: The hospitality industry is definitely recovering from the downturn in the sense that demand for hotel rooms is higher than it has ever been in the entire history of the hotel business. You can expect that in 2011 we’re going to sell more room nights than we’ve ever seen before. Well over 100 million room nights are going to be sold this month (August). Right now, there’s not a lot of new construction happening, so demand is beginning to outpace supply. The only thing that’s holding hotels back now is the lack of confidence in their desire to raise rates. They say they are going to but they’re not actually pushing rate.

TRT: How have rates been changing? On average have they changed up or down in the last few years?

GH: Well they were down quite considerately but now they’re inching back up. The general temperature of the industry is that ‘things are back’. Guests have changed somewhat. It’s more about personal experiences. Guests are out there trying to collect experiences no matter what the purpose of their trip is, even if it’s for business. They also want higher value in what hotels are offering. They’re not as price conscious as the general managers of hotels think they are. Meanwhile, group business travel is solidifying at the same time but a lot of those business they’re having an inability to move those rates because, in those scary days of 2009 and early 2010, deals were made that locked these people into lower prices than they could probably get now if they were negotiating contracts.

TRT: What is the mix of business travel vs. vacation, or personal travel?

GH: Even through the downturn, leisure travel remained strong. Americans feel it’s their right to vacation. But now, business travel is surging back. You have those two things working together to restore the industry.

TRT: What about oversees visitors? Do you see an increase coming to the US?

GH: Oversees visitors have been coming into America but not at a pace that Americans need. Tourism has an opportunity to be our biggest export. The average international guest stays twice as long and spends more than twice the average of what the American guest would spend. So we really want to get those international travelers coming here. But the problem is that we’re not really addressing the needs of those travelers to come here easily.

TRT: How so?

GH: Well, for example: China has got this surging middle class of hundreds of millions of people that finally have the money to start to travel. But in that massive country of over a billion people, they only have five consulates that they can go to in the entire country to try to get a visa to come here. And even then, it’s only good for a year. People are waiting to try to get permission to go on vacation. A Chinese traveler can pretty much show up in any European country and be let in without any issue, but not in the US. So the US government needs to expand their visa waiver program in order to get more folks to come here in a more streamlined manner.

TRT: We can see how that would be an issue.

GH: One of the cool things that has finally been passed during the last year is the Tourism Promotion Act and what that’s done is it’s created a public/private partnership which is being funded by fees that are being paid by travelers that are coming into the US. Those fees are then being used to create advertising to people to visit the United States. International visitors coming to the US remained stable over the last 10 years, but the actual percentages have shrunk considerably because there are so many more people now that have the financial means to travel and they’re simply not coming to the US. Pumping fees into the advertising is hopefully going to help change things

TRT: In terms of value do you think that visitors and travelers are looking at the impact of green initiatives in their hotels? Is that part of their decision making process when deciding where they’re staying?

GH: While there are plenty of people who do, I don’t think that individual travelers overall are making decisions based on that. They’re making decisions based on price and value and not whether or not something is green. It’s just I don’t think it’s something that’s consumer driven.

TRT: The fact that there’s not a lot of new building going on, does that correlate to a lot more renovation in existing hotels?

GH: Absolutely. Right now there are more renovations going on in the hotel industry than ever before. When you talk about green, the real great thing about going green is that you are able to save money and shorten ROI as opposed to buying newer products. I’ve been preaching this for like 5 years. I think everybody got caught up saying that travelers are all going be into green, but I kept saying you need to look at the bottom line. That’s where people are going to be able to make a difference. I think at some point in the future, consumers are going to have a lot more interest in green.

On Friday, we’ll present the rest of our conversation with Glenn to get his thoughts on sustainability in hospitality, more on the value guests look for and his ideas on where you’ll find the hospitality industry most committed to sustainability.

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