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Sustainability and the Hospitality Industry

Your guests care about sustainability. In every industry, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, and hotels are no exception. Consumers are very conscious that travel is one of the largest pieces of their environmental footprint, so they’re doing what they can to reduce it — and that means looking for hotels that share their values. If you want to continue receiving business from these people, you’ll need to keep up.

Beyond the financial benefits of appealing to more eco-conscious consumers, hoteliers often feel a responsibility to operate their businesses in a more sustainable way for the sake of the environment. If running an eco-friendly hotel (and, in many cases, saving some money) is a priority for you, there are a few steps you can take.

Maximize Your Staff’s Efficiency

Wasted time is wasted energy (and wasted money). To keep your hotel running smoothly, it pays to make sure that your staff is empowered to do their jobs with as little waste as possible. A digital PBX from Phonesuite is a great place to start. With a VoIP system and digital communications, you can automate repetitive tasks, multi-task more effectively, and give your staff the freedom to move about the building without risking missed calls or underserved guests.

Reduce Your Electric Bill

We don’t need to tell you that the electricity your hotel uses is one of the biggest pieces of your carbon footprint. The two biggest contributors to your energy bill? Light and heat. Reducing the amount of electricity you use on lighting is as simple as swapping out all your lights for LEDs.

There’s a bit of upfront investment in switching to LEDs (though they’re getting cheaper every year), but they’ll more than make up for the cost with their energy savings and far longer lifespans. As an added bonus, you’ll save your maintenance crew a lot of time — it might be a decade before you have to change out a bulb again.

LEDs can also enhance your guests’ experience. You can change them from a warmer white color in the morning and evening to a bright, cool white in the middle of the day. You can install dimmer switches in guests’ rooms so that they can dim the lights while they read in bed or watch a movie. You can even install wireless switches so that guests don’t have to get out of bed to turn off overhead lights.

Save Water

In terms of your impact on the environment, saving water is a close second to saving electricity — if not even more impactful! One of the easiest ways to save water is to install signs encouraging guests to reuse their linens and towels. Towels usually don’t need to be washed after one use and sheets don’t need to be laundered after one night’s sleep.

If you give your guests the opportunity to tell your housekeepers that they don’t need their linens and towels cleaned just yet, you can seriously reduce the impact of your washing machines.

You can also save a lot of water by installing low-flow toilets, low-flow showerheads, and more water-efficient washing machines and industrial dishwashers. Another option, though a relatively expensive one, is to replace large water heaters with inline water heaters. Guests waste a lot of water letting the shower run while they wait for it to heat up, so putting the heat source closer to the faucet can make a big difference over time.

Reduce Packaging and Waste

Do you still offer your guests a single-serve shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, mouthwash, and other amenities? If so, it’s time to stop. Most guests have specific enough preferences that they bring their own anyway. Those guests that do use the provided toiletries will only use a little bit, and they probably won’t bring them home. The end result is that you end up throwing away hundreds of small plastic bottles every day.

Instead, install wall-mounted hand pumps in hotel rooms that can be refilled when necessary, but don’t generate any plastic waste. If you provide bar soap, find a brand that’s wrapped in paper, not plastic. Give guests recyclable paper cups or reusable ones that can be washed and wrapped in paper between stays.

Switch to Better Cleaning Products

Hotels go through a lot of cleaning supplies, most of which end up being washed down sinks, toilets, and other drains. The open secret of the household supply industry, though, is that the bright blue and orange colors of most cleaning supplies don’t actually add anything to their cleaning ability.

Take some time to find cleaning supplies that are biodegradable and dye-free — they’ll break down after they’re used, reducing strain on wastewater treatment plants and creating a healthier water table. As an added bonus, these eco-friendly cleaning products are often less fragrant, so your guests aren’t overwhelmed with the smell of bleach, citrus, ammonia, or other artificial scents when their rooms are cleaned.

Going Green

Don’t be surprised if your guests start to ask about the specific efforts you’re making at your hotel to be kinder to the environment — consumers are starting to care more and more about the ecological footprint of the businesses they patronize. From property-wide initiatives like building materials and landscaping to the little touches in guests’ rooms, more informed choices will help your hotel attract guests and save money, now and in the future.