GLOBAL REPORT—JoAnna Abrams was laughed at by a hotel executive when she mentioned her work on a study examining whether sustainability efforts can help boost hotel performance.
But as it turns out, the hoteliers who keep sustainability in mind might have the last laugh.
Abrams, author of a MindClick study released in January, found guest satisfaction scores grew by nine points as a result of the positive impression created by awareness of hotel sustainability programs. Further, the study reported three out of five travelers expect hotels to be built and operated in ways that protect the environment.
“What was surprising was how much awareness consumers had of hotel sustainability,” she said. The study was based on an online survey of 5,000 U.S. travelers who had traveled during the previous six months for business and/or leisure.
Return on investment
Building environmentally-friendly hotels has been a focus of Concord Hospitality since 2010. The company has three LEED-certified hotels under its belt with several more in the pipeline, said Tim Osiecki, executive VP of development and facilities. Overall, Concord has 83 hotels in its portfolio.
“If you do the right thing,” he said, “not only is it advantageous for our environment, but it’s certainly a return on investment, too.”
The Courtyard by Marriott Pittsburgh Airport Settler’s Ridge has seen a 24% savings in energy costs thanks to the efficient design that helped garner its LEED certification.
The 108-room Courtyard by Marriott Pittsburgh Airport Settler’s Ridge, developed by Concord, has seen 24% energy savings thanks to the efficient design that helped garner its LEED-certified status, Osiecki said. The hotel opened in 2010.
Building select-service, LEED-certified hotels of between 100 rooms and 150 rooms will add on between $350,000 and $375,000 in incremental cost, Osiecki said, but the expense is worth it.
“Guests, especially the younger generation, really understand that and really try to live their own personal lives … conscious of the environment,” he said. “They really get it, and they really appreciate it. We see it in our guest comments.”
When it comes to green standards, consumers connect room furnishings to health, well-being, and the environment, the MindClick study found. Guests, according to the study, appreciate sustainable furnishings that improve indoor air quality.
- non-toxic carpeting that minimizes dust and allergens;
- sheets made from Eucalyptus that can bring allergy relief and fight against bedbugs; and
- tables constructed of formaldehyde-free wood fiber.
Going green on the road
There is slightly more willingness by guests today to pay a higher rate to stay in a green hotel, said Puneet Chhatwal, the chief development officer for The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.
“Maybe five years ago it was less, and maybe 10 years ago it was nonexistent,” he said. “I can tell you for sure in most of the mature markets, most people make the choice to be with a company that makes sustainable choices.”
Sources interviewed for this report said guests more frequently are applying the environmentally-friendly choices they make in their personal lives when they travel. Chhatwal, for instance, recalled when he lived in Germany he had to separate his garbage into eight piles to be taken away.
“And if that’s your standard, you will look for it when you travel,” he said.