Concerns to the environment are evident in the ecologically conscious marketplace in recent studies. One study found that raised environmental consciousness is a reality and change of attitude may indirectly lead to increased market share options (D’Souza, Taghian, Lamb, & Peretiatkos). With this trend, ecotourism is making big gains in the consciousness of many travelers: where ecotourism means responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people (The International Ecotourism Society).
For instance, in the U. S. more than three-quarters of travelers “feel it is important that their visits not damage the environment,” according to a 2003 study (TIES). This study estimated that 17 million American travelers consider environmental factors first when deciding which travel companies to patronize. In the hotel industry, therefore, there has been a shift in the customers’ expectations and demands over the past 20 years (The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum).
IBLF found that the typical hotel guest today is more knowledgeable and more confident about what he or she wants out of the hotel experience so that guests are more likely to be concerned about environmental and social issues, and are probably recycling bottles, cans and paper at home or making greener ‘lifestyle’ purchases such as organic vegetables or fuel-efficient cars. For that reason, travelers need ‘green’ hotel that are properties whose managers are eager to institute programs that save water, save energy and reduce solid waste, while saving money, to help protect our one and only earth .
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According to Watkins, about 70 percent of survey respondents said that they are likely or extremely likely to stay at a hotel with an environmentally friendly strategy. Consequently, environmentally friendly concept is an opportunity to hotels since this concept could be a portal to hospitality success in the future (Hendrie). In terms of suppliers, preserving high environmental quality is one of the main concerns on the business agenda as advocated by environmentalism in the hotel industry As an successful example of their efforts, one hotel, Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa of Altman Hospitality Group Inc.
, has achieved a 46% reduction in water through low flow showers and toilets, and the property’s pond uses recycled water from the site, which is filtered and cleaned prior to entering the pond (Butler). In spite of the above successes, hotels are not reaching their full potential for the development of environmentally friendliness. Conner stated that “despite the fact that more and more consumers regularly consider environmental criteria in their purchasing decisions, the U. S. Lodging Industry in general has failed to respond to this potential niche market .
” According to Stipanuk, some hotels were not particularly more energy efficient than those of 10 years earlier even though the green hotel development boom started in the mid 1990’s. This paper sees to explore what existing and new properties in the hospitality industry should be implemented for developing environmentally friendly programs. Let us first consider concept of environmental friendliness. Environmental Friendliness Faulk defined sustainable development as wider philosophy of development that includes social and natural carrying capacities.
According to Kirk, “sustainable development covered a broad range of areas from the maintenance of physical resources, the protection of biological systems, plant and animal species and natural habitats and the preservation of cultures . ” Meanwhile, being environmentally friendly is a less strict term. Also, it is suggested that environmentally friendly is often used synonymously with green, environmentally sensitive, ecologically sound, and so forth (Kirk). Environmental friendliness relates to all actions that involve the environment .
On the other hand, environmental friendliness means that the product is designed to reduce its negative environmental impact in some way (Pujari & Wright). Pujari and Wright observed that environmentally friendly products are typically specified as providing measurable improvements throughout the entire product lifecycle. In the hotel industry, environmentally friendly hotels and green hotels are defined as lodging establishments that have made a commitment to diverse ecologically sound practices such as saving water, energy, and reducing solid waste (Manaktola & Jauhari).
Meanwhile, environmentally friendly hotels or green hotels differ from other concept such as eco-lodges. According to Osland and Mackoy, “eco-lodges are the accommodation facilities and services established in, or very near, natural areas visited by eco-tourists. ” Eco-lodges are nature-dependent lodges that meet the philosophy and principles of ecotourism (Manaktola & Jauhari). Environmentally Friendly Programs in Hotels In the hospitality industry, hotels have been interested in the reduction of solid waste, water consumption, energy consumption and air pollution for environmentally friendly efforts (Shanklin).
An environmentally sensitive hotel is one that has altered its equipment, policies, and practices to minimize its damage on the environment . In addition, Iwanowski and Rushmore stated that a careful examination of existing systems and operational procedures, especially in the areas of energy management, solid-waste management, and water conservation, reveal an abundance of possible modifications that cost nothing or will pay for themselves in a few years.
Among various programs, the researcher reviewed four major categories (energy, solidwaste, water, and biodiversity) of management programs that a hotel can implement to become an environmentally friendly hotel. Energy program The world’s total primary energy supply has doubled in 35 years and buildings represent 40% of this consumption . The hotel industry consumes over $1 billion worth of energy per year and most hotels could reduce energy consumption by 20 to 40 percent while maintaining guest comfort (IBLF).
In order to monitor and improve performance in terms of energy savings, the hotel needs an energy management program such as monitoring temperature controls, switching off unnecessary lights, and replacing devices with more-efficient, cost saving equipment (Iwanowski & Rushmore). An energy program coordinator of UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) suggested that consuming less energy and adopting energy efficient technologies reduces the need for investment in energy infrastructures and increases the competitiveness of businesses (The Accor Group).
Solid waste program A solid waste management program is aimed at reducing the volume and toxicity of the garbage being sent to the landfill (Iwanowski & Rushmore). According to Accor, on average 11. 6 pounds (5. 3kg) of waste is produced per person per day in OECD countries and waste recycling worldwide is below 10%. Most hotels pay twice for the waste they produce - initially for product packaging and later for waste disposal. Across the world, landfill sites for waste disposal are becoming harder to find and increasingly expensive to use.
As a result of higher waste disposal costs in many industrial countries through mechanisms such as landfill and incineration taxes, many companies view waste as lost profits (IBLF). Kirk suggested that waste should be recycled either by reusing products, or by recycling the materials, or by minimizing waste in operations. Water program Excessive water use can degrade or destroy local water resources, threatening the availability of water for local needs . Water accounts for up to 15 percent of total utility bill in most hotels and up to 95 percent of fresh water is wasted. Most hotels pay for the water they consume twice initially to purchase fresh water and then to dispose of it as waste water (IBLF). Effective water conservation is available by reducing the amount of water that comes out of a faucet or showerhead or that is used to flush a toilet and by encouraging guests to use their towels and linens for more than one day (Iwanowski & Rushmore). Biodiversity program
According to CELB & TOI, “hotels can seek opportunities to benefit biodiversity by contributing to improving the state of the environment at a local, regional, or national level. Such action can be particularly important in countries where capacity and resources for environmental conservation are limited. ” The decline in the world’s biodiversity over the past 50 years is a phenomenon which has never been equaled. For example, 25% of mammals, 11% of birds, 20% of fish and 13% of plants are threatened with extinction (The Accor Group).
Accor suggested that at local level, hotels can contribute to the preservation of their local biodiversity by maintaining, for instance, their green spaces and by taking positive actions to preserve the environment. In addition, beyond those green spaces, hotels can take various actions to preserve the natural environment and the plant and animal species that live there (The Accor Group). The Hotel's Perspective on Greening If hotels choose to become green, they will have many issues to address including, but not limited to, cost, purchasing, training and image.
Each of these issues will be addressed to give a better understanding of how they will affect a hotel. Costs of Greening A primary concern for hotels or any business is the issue of cost. There may be a significant amount of start-up cost for many hotels, cost involved with initiating green programs. Replacing old equipment with new environmentally friendly equipment may be the largest expense, but the new equipment may save the hotel money in the future with a decrease in waste, energy, and water usage. The ultimate goal is to make being green money saving for the hotel.
Depending on where a hotel is located and the price it pays for services and materials in that area, being green may be an unavoidable expense for some properties (Rushmore). Hotel Purchasing Decisions Green purchasing means that a company will purchase alternative products that are recycled, non-toxic, and include minimal packaging (Rushmore). It involves seeking out new vendors and manufacturers who have adopted a green approach to their products design and packaging, such as recyclable and reusable supplies.
Training and Altered Job Responsibilities
Training is an issue that will be extremely varied from hotel to hotel. It is inevitable that with the implementation of green activities, employees' job responsibilities will change. In order for green activities and programs to be successful, some amount of training or retraining will be necessary for many hotel workers (Kay & Allison). Employees need to be aware of expectations and duties in order to make the programs successful, and trainers must instill a feeling of commitment that what is being done is important (Bruns).
Hotels are always concerned about their public image and what message they are sending to customers, potential customers, employees, and potential employees. In a recent study, many employees stated that they were prouder to work for a green company (Bruns). Travelers are willing to spend 8% more to stay in a green hotel. It appears then that a hotel's image would be enhanced from the view point of employees and guests (TIES). The Employees' Perspective on Greening A recent study concluded that many green programs started from the ideas and request of employees.
Employees are the individuals that know jobs better than anyone else, so it makes sense that they would be able to give ideas and solutions on how to make jobs safer for the environment. Including employees during the planning and implementing of green programs may be critical to their success. The Guests' Perspective on Greening A study conducted by Virginia Polytech University found that 70% of participants stated they would be likely to stay at a hotel with a proactive environmental strategy .
Of those surveyed, the three areas that were believed to be the most important issues of concern when staying at hotels included recycling, lighting, and linen. Eighty-six percent believed hotels should provide recycling bins in guest rooms for waste. Ninety-one percent believed it was important for hotels to use energy efficient lighting, and 67% believed hotels should not change linen and towels daily for guests that are staying longer than one night.
Environmental Marketing Environmental marketing has been referred to as green marketing or sustainable marketing (Fuller). Fuller defined environmental marketing as “the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the development, pricing, promotion, and distribution of products in a manner that satisfies the following three goals: customer needs are met, organizational goals are attained, and the process is compatible with the ecosystems.
” One research defined green marketing as a root of the fundamental tension between modern mass consumption and environmentalism . Mackoy et al. claimed that green marketing was developed to address the needs and wants of a segment of consumers who express environmental concerns. On the other hand, environmental marketing is perceived as being instrumental in the development of a positive corporate image and an element to the success of a business enterprise.
According to Fuller, the hospitality industry is under pressure to become more environmentally friendly because of the following forces: consumer demand, increasing environmental regulation, managerial concern with ethics, customer satisfaction, maintenance issues, and the need for aesthetics. D’Souza, Taghian, Lamb, ; Peretiatkos suggested that the drivers toward environmental marketing are:
- to build a strong competitive advantage for the product;
- to develop and project a positive and ethical corporate image;
- to gain and benefit from the support of the employees; and
- to meet customers’ expectations, improve market share and achieve longer term profit potentials.
Concern from the business world for the environment has not always been a reality; it was first viewed as a missionary role. Originally companies viewed helping the environment as only more work, responsibility, and cost. Many organizations have their own reasons for becoming green, such as employee requests, customers concerns, environmental problems facing society, and trying to keep stride with the competition.
Whatever the reason behind the actions, the fact remains that many businesses are taking steps to support a better environment. There are many uncertainties that the future holds, including when natural resource supplies will extinguish or landfills will close. The only thing certain about the future is that the problems facing the environment will only become better with direct and active human help and intervention.
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