Marriott, Hilton,Other Hotels Going Green

by | Jan 25, 2008

hotelmag2.jpgA 2007 survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and KDS revealed that only one-third of corporate travel policies promote sustainable tourism. And while many travelers say they would prefer a green hotel, other factors such as price win out when they’re booking, according to this expose in Hotel magazine via Environmental News Bits.

Wen-I Chang, head of Atman Hospitality Group and visionary behind GAIA Napa Valley, the U.S.’s first Gold LEED certified hotel, says that business directly attributable to the green travel market is probably in the single digits, even low single digits, even though smaller, market savvy green hotels might hit the 15 to 20 percent market, according to this article.

Most major chains are looking for ways to integrate green into their hotels, and water and energy conservation are popular routes. Marriott International has set the goal of lowering GHG emissions 2.2 million pounds by 2010, says Ed Fuller, president and managing director of the company. Wolfgang Neuman of Hilton Hotels sees near-term moves toward eco-friendly air-conditioning, solar heating, and heat recovery systems to extract waste water from one system and use it in another. And by 2010, 200 of Accor’s hotels in France will have solar panels.

Obstacles lie in the way, though, and one is pricing. But Robert Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts in Colorado, sees the cost differential for green beginning to decrease. The key, he says, “is to commit early in the process. Then green doesn’t add anything to the schedule. If you make decisions halfway through, you’re in trouble.” In addition, government mandates are starting to make green more attractive for developers.

In a recent paper, Safety, Health and Environmental professionals (SH&E), addressed the key issues in greening in the hospitality industry, including their risks and benefits and tips for starting a greening program.

Some of the biggest strides to green are occurring at the property level. Radisson SAS Edinburgh switched to energy-efficient lights at a cost of $2,307, and first year savings were $27,889. And a commercial fuel cell power system installed at the Hilton New York provides power and domestic hot water for operations at a rate three times more efficient than the electric grid.

Once hotels start to go green, the best way to advertise is subtly. “We find that a viral campaign reaches conscious consumers much more effectively,” than heavy advertising, says Kristin Glass, marketing manager of The Leading Hotels of the World, which has a Leading Green Initiative. Consumers, she adds, “tend to be skeptical of claims of green programs and are very sensitive to green marketing.”

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