Sustainability in Hospitality: Do guests want green hotels?

To discuss the demand or requirement for green hotels or the implementation of sustainability in hospitality and tourism we have to dig deeper and analyze green hotel trends. The guest’s requirement is different for city or resort hotels. For resort hotels, the required level of “green” is higher. Guests require water saving systems, water treatment, sewer treatment, photovoltaic or wind energy generation and so on. The higher the category, the higher is the pressure from customers and the market.

The approach to city hotels is different. A business traveler may fully support or require sustainability policies of hotels when he is at home, but does not accept the smallest inconvenience related to this once he is in the hotel, tired and hungry just looking for a cool room and a shower.

A broadly discussed issue is the change of towels and linen. Most of the hotels have instructions on the bed or in the bathroom. Sometimes it’s confusing – “So I have to hang up my towel properly to indicate that I do want it changed or can I leave it hung over the bathroom door?” My experiences from most of the hotels I have stayed in are that the towels get changed daily no matter what you do. Housekeeping obviously wants to be on the safe side.

If we look at what the guest require we also have to look at the geographic and social background where they come from. A person from Western Europe has a different understanding of what is “green” than a person from Eastern Europe, U.S., Asia, Latin America. Not to speak about the social and educational background.

The global hotel chains are developing and implementing sustainability policies for operation and construction as a reaction to the market demand and also because or social awareness. The results are brand standard requirements for the construction and fit out of hotels. It is today also almost standard that investors want their properties to have LEED certificates or similar. The reason is the higher market value of certified buildings. Many of these measures also make economic sense because of energy saving, water saving and so on. These aspects certainly will drive the industry towards more “green” hotels.

However, there are a huge number of hotels out there, which do not comply even with the simplest of sustainable standards. If you can book one week of vacation including flight, hotel stay and half board for less than EUR 500 at the North African Mediterranean coast – just as an example – there is no way that this can be in a sustainably run hotel.

Here I come back to my question from the beginning, “Do guests want green hotels?” My answer is yes, if they can afford it. I know, provocative again.

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