Customer service is at the heart of any good business, especially the lodging industry, which strives to create a homelike atmosphere and comfort level for its guests. With the increasing numbers of earth conscious consumers travelling each year, it’s no wonder that hotels are taking steps to go green. When people recycle, buy products with less packaging, carry reusable water bottles, and use compact fluorescent lighting at home, it is unlikely that they will feel comfortable in a hotel that wastes energy and natural resources. These consumers want green lodging, and the hotel industry knows it.
California was the first to kick off the green lodging movement in 2004 by creating the Green Lodging Program. Designed to recognize and reward environmentally friendly hotels and encourage the patronage of state and government travelers, this program has become the example and inspiration for states and hotels across the country.
The leader in green hospitality is the Missouri based Q Hotel. Formerly the Quarterage Hotel in Kansas City’s Westport, the Q hotel adheres to a 38-point plan that far exceeds most green certification programs. Guests staying at the Q can expect to find Green Seal and recycled content products, compact fluorescent lights, programmable guest room thermostats, low-flow shower heads and toilets, and recycling receptacles in rooms. Guests can also expect that their breakfast leftovers will be composted, that their coffee will be free-trade, and that the wines they drink are organic. The Q bathrooms are equipped with reusable dispensers filled with earth friendly bulk products, eliminating the need for miniature disposable plastic bottles filled with shampoo, soap, lotions and mouthwash. The hotel makes six bikes available for guest use and a hybrid car serves as the hotel shuttle.
Ray Burger, owner of Pineapple Hospitality, a green hotel product supplier and environmental/marketing consulting firm in St. Charles, Mo. cites two reasons why so many businesses are now going green: 1.Technological innovation, and 2. common sense. According to Burger "two years ago no one would have considered using LED (light emitting diode) lights because their quality was so poor, but now they are a viable, affordable, energy efficient option.” He also acknowledges the tremendous economic benefits of greening hotel operations, saying that “greening hotel operations results in water conservation and a huge reduction in waste, not to mention the increased patronage from government and business travelers who are required to stay in lodgings that have implemented some green guidelines.”
Another Earth friendly step that is having a positive impact on the hotel industry is the elimination of bottled water. Simply by installing an in-house water purification and carbonation system, hotels rid their property of plastic water bottles, thereby drastically reducing their carbon footprint. Hotel restaurants were first to install sustainable water systems, offering guests bottomless carafes of filtered still or carbonated water. The benefits for restaurants in terms of patron approval, financial savings, and reduction of waste have been enormous. Hotel owners see that eliminating bottled water will reap the same benefits in their own industry, and have embraced this sustainable solution.
According to Shawn Duke, the general manager at the Q Hotel, green initiatives are worth the effort. “People tell me all the time that they chose our hotel because of our environmental practices.” He says, that the hard work “makes our hotel a better place for our customers.” He also notes that because of their green practices they “save a lot of money too.”
More and more people are living green lifestyles and the wasteful practices of old-school hotels have lost their appeal. With the fast pace of the green trend, it's only a matter of time before the hotel industry becomes carbon neutral. As the hotels do right by the environment, they’ll also do right by consumers.