There’s no question that adding sustainable features to your hotel property not only improves its environmental impact but provides an advantage in terms of marketing. To be able to promote your hotel as one that improves the environment – while offering the amenities of home – increases its desirability for almost any traveler. Hotels must be careful however not to scare away cost conscience travelers with high prices needed to offset the costs of creating a more sustainable hotel. The question is though, how to do that?
Recently at a Sustainable Roundtable, hosted by Cornell University, representatives from several major hotel chains discussed what it takes for profitable sustainability in the hospitality sector. It was agreed that while easy to implement approaches (switching to fluorescent bulbs, low-flow showerheads) are adopted widely, it is specific practices which are withheld from outside organizations that are stunting wide spread growth of sustainability. In order for wide spread improvement, the best green practices must be applied especially those that concern the most important factor of all: the bottom line.
Cost must still play a role, as a member of the roundtable pointed out. Ten percent of cost is usually added on to the design and construction of property, however through careful planning, seven percent is eventually reduced due to the construction savings and integrated design. Restaurants face the same dilemma. Some will adhere to recycling rules and regulations while reducing water and materials consumption eventually saving money, while others will do nothing at all and not see any cost benefits.
Even though everyone in the hospitality business is out to make money, if sustainability is to become the focal point everyone is talking about, it must be discussed outwardly more, not just internally. The discussion and implementation of best practices is key to driving down costs or at least finding what works best to becoming more profitable while also becoming sustainable. Until the hospitality industry realizes this, embracing green practices unfortunately may continue to be seen as a sunk cost by those who simply haven’t talked about it enough.