During a recent visit to San Francisco, I had the pleasure of staying in Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar. I’ve taken a shining to the trendy boutique brand in recent months. Its urban locations and chic décors are perfect complements to a weekend city getaway.
But while I certainly appreciate those notable characteristics, the brand’s most enticing draw for an eco-conscious traveler like me is its commitment to environmental sustainability.
I was well aware of Kimpton’s pledge before booking my reservation at the Hotel Palomar a few months back. While covering the “sustainability” beat for Hotel News Now, I’ve investigated the chain’s EarthCare program and have asked Steve Pinetti, senior VP of sales and marketing, about the group’s conservation practices.
But even without that background, it doesn’t take a casual traveler long to see through the brand’s green-colored glasses during a stay.
Walk into a room at the Hotel Palomar, for example, and you’ll find a card on the bed detailing the hotel’s linen reuse program. You’ll find another card explaining the eco-conscious design of the bathroom hanging from the towel rack. Even the shampoo and conditioner bottles are in on the act—both declare the absence of chemicals and toxins that may be harmful to the environment.
None of these communications are particularly innovative. Certain brands have long included linen reuse cards on beds or partnered with green vendors for bathroom amenities.
What they are, however, is persistent.
While eco-consciousness has been spreading in the general population in recent years, travelers’ awareness of green programs in hotels is on the decline. According to the 2008 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study from J.D. Power and Associates, 57 percent of guests reported they were aware of green programs, down 6 percent from the previous year.
The numbers suggest that hoteliers cannot simply drift idly as the green wave gathers strength beneath them. In order to benefit from that momentum, they must paddle deeper and continue to communicate with the vibrant psychographic.
Kimpton not only does so in their guestrooms. The brand also boasts an entire EarthCare Web page that details its mission and initiatives.
The best example of persistent green outreach, however, may be Starwood’s Element. The extended-stay brand developed steady buzz before opening its first location last July by continually touting its status as the first LEED-certified hotel in the U.S.
With only one location open and 24 projects in the Element pipeline, it’s too early to tell whether the brand will take off.
If nothing else, the sustainable foundation it was built upon clearly has.
And for hoteliers willing to communicate their efforts to go green, many environmentally conscious travelers from that base just might be enticed to spend their green.