The need to address environmental concerns and hotel sustainability practices has become an important issue for travelers, hoteliers, and managers around the world. Apart from this, independently a hotel does not have a significant negative impact on the environment. However, together, as an industry, they consume a large number of resources. Hotels and other accommodation providers account for 2% of the 5% global CO2 emissions from the tourism sector. It is estimated that 75% of the hotel’s environmental impact is directly related to excessive resource consumption and unnecessary operating costs.
Sustainability is not just about CO2 emissions alone. Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Apart from natural resources, we also need social and economic resources.
This article covers small tips to start your hotel’s sustainability initiatives. These tips will not break your bank.
Table of Contents
Train the Team
Support and contribution from your team is the most important element for the success of your sustainability initiatives. Call your entire hotel staff for townhall and announce that you are starting to adopt hotel sustainability practices and hence require their full support in this regard.
Train your team on the basics of hotel sustainability practices:
- Turn off lights and heating/air conditioning in rooms or empty areas only for employees.
- Always check for leaks and respond to leaking faucets and toilets.
- Close/open the curtains to reduce the need for heating/air conditioning.
- Constantly looking for unused hotel equipment (e.g. kitchen fan) left on.
- Report opportunities to reduce resource consumption.
- Make sure all rooms have reusable towels and sheets.
Ask your recruiter or HR manager to always give priority to employees who are near to your hotel and can travel to work daily. Generally, what hotels do is recruit employees irrespective of their hometown and then provide them with accommodation and food facilities. By recruiting locally, you are adding the following benefits:
- Local empowerment – while providing employment opportunities to locals, you are empowering your local community. This is also a sustainable initiative. In the long run, this approach builds trust and support for your company among the locals and eventually opens up great opportunities. This also enables you to get on the good books of local authorities – municipality, local government, police and son.
- Reduce staff attrition – attrition is a huge cost in any industry. Employees staying nearby tend to stay with the hotel for a longer period than others.
- Reduce cost on accommodation.
Ask your procurement team to give priority to local vendors even if their prices are slightly higher. Considering fruits, vegetables, and meat, local produce can be of great quality and have lesser chemicals. Again, here you are not only supporting the local community but also cutting the carbon emission in your supply chain.
To go further an extra step, you could train local households to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in their backyard and supply it to you. You can also consider other products for this.
Train your Suppliers
Call all your suppliers and let them know that you are initiating hotel sustainability practices and expect them to support them in your movement. This is what you need to ask them to do:
- Do not add any packaging if not essential – be it plastic or not.
- Try to use reusable crates or boxes while transporting loose items rather than adding packaging.
- Ask them if they’d take back the boxes and reuse them for your next order.
Discussion with your suppliers can generate inputs and ideas to reduce environmental impacts.
Stop offering water in disposable plastic bottles
Most hotels place one or two bottles of water for the guests in the rooms. These are most often plastic bottles. These could be easily switched to glass bottles with a very minimum investment. Along with this, every floor can have a water filter publicly accessible to guests. This way, the guest can easily refill their bottles without bothering your staff.
Reuse Bed and Bath Linens Program
This is a program adopted by most chain hotels.
- Bed Linens – bed linens are changed only once in two/three days during a guest’s stay. If the guest needs the linen to be changed, a tent card provided on the side table that says “Please change my linens” is placed on the bed by the guest.
- Bath Linens – similar is the case with bath lines, guests are reminded of the gallons of water being wasted in laundry and request them to hang their towels. If they need it changed, they could drop the towel on the floor or put it in the laundry basket.
Guest Toiletries on Request
Offering lots of toiletries to your guests no more impresses them. Also do not get into the thinking that guests become happy when they find more freebies. No! They came to your hotel to stay, relax or experience your hospitality. Not for the toiletries.
Offer basic toiletries and make other toiletries be available on request. Place a tent card in the bathroom saying that you’d be more than happy to provide them with any toiletry they may require.
Switch to Dispensers
Stop using plastic bottled shampoos and lotions. Instead, place dispensers in your shower area that dispenses shampoo and conditioner. This not only reduces plastic waste, but it also reduces wastage of liquids, transportation costs, and the overall cost of guest toiletries.
Tent Cards and Signs for Guests
You could make the following tent cards or small signages to train the guests to reduce, reuse and recycle:
- Save Power – to ensure that lights, TV and air conditioners are off while they leave their room.
- Reuse Towels – place a nicely designed signage in the bathroom asking the guests to reuse towels.
- Reuse Bed Lines – most hotels now change the bed linens once in three days or two days during a guest’s stay. Place a tent card saying that you change the bed linens only once in two/three days during their stay. If they’d like it changed, place this tent card on the bed.
- Amenities on Request – place a tent card in the bathroom advising the guest to call the housekeeping department if they need any toiletries or amenities.
Train your Guests
There are many opportunities to reduce environmental impact while a guest is staying at your resort, but these things are not within your control. However, certain things can be explained to your guests at the time of checking, and you can be rest assured your guests will follow the same. These things should be explained to the guest in a manner that the guest also takes pride in making their stay sustainable.
Along with the signs. you can tell the guests to practice during the check-in process:
- If you do not have automatic presence sensors in your room – feel free to ask them to kindly turn off the lights, television and air conditioner/heaters while they exit the room.
- Tell them that you have a towel hanger in your bathroom where they can hang their towels for reuse. If they wish to change their towels, they could either drop it in the laundry basket or elsewhere and your housekeeping staff would replace it with fresh towels. Tell them they can always call the housekeeping desk for fresh towels.
- Tell them that the linens are changed on alternate days during their stay.
- Tell them that any toiletry or amenities they require is just a call away and your staff will be happy to bring them to you.
Sort the Waste
There are complex and simple ways to sort waste. Complex processes can be adopted by larger hotels. Small and medium hotels can adopt waste sorting as simple as Wet, Dry, and Recyclable.
If your waste is not sorted properly, it could end up in landfills which is one of the most difficult situations the governments are trying to solve.
Here is an article on Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology by Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. These practices are adopted by large hotels, but this could give you more insights and identify practices that can be adopted in your hotel depending upon your size and operations.
Properly and nicely advertise your hotel sustainability practices within your premises where your employees and guests can see and appreciate it. Today, guests tend to feel connected to hotels that practice sustainability.
There are more ways you can start your sustainability initiatives. Some require considerable investment, some might increase your costs and some initiatives like the above are inexpensive and could be a starting point to bigger initiatives.