Do your social and environmental policies impact revenue?
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last 6 months, you will undoubtably know that our perception of environmental issues have changed and changed radically, and very quickly. David Attenborough has a lot to answer for – in a very positive way of course and his series Blue Planet II changed the way many of us feel about plastic.
Seeing the amount of plastic waste (including 7000 plastic ducks!) destroying our seas and rivers was a stark wake up call for many of us. Clever and ethical hoteliers have sat up and taken notice (or for the more sceptical of you, have jumped on the bandwagon) of this wave of environmental shock and we can see across many hotels, bars and restaurants an immediate desire to be seen as environmentally friendly. Plastic straws are going – thank goodness and hopefully the days of the plastic duck as a marketing initiative are going too. Let’s start a campaign to ‘ditch the duck!!!’
But does your environmental footprint influence a customers buying decision? Undoubtably the answer is yes. We have a new generation of customers who care about the environment, understand the impact of tourism and on the back of that, want to absolutely minimise the impact they have during their trip.
So what does that mean for hoteliers? Is leaving a pop-up card in the bathroom asking guests to re-use their towels so that the hotel can be more ‘green’ enough? It isn’t… My advice is that if you don’t have an environmental policy, then get one. And if you do have one, then shout about it. What is your policy on re-cycling? Are you fuel efficient? What are you doing to lessen the impact you have on waste and the environment?
Some of the hotels I have connected with recently are actively removing all of the little miniatures from the bathroom. They still have great products but they are in larger bottles that can be re-filled and they tell guests that this is to lesson the amount of plastic waste – excellent! I have even come across one or two hotels that are willing to take this further. What if you had guests that were staying more than one night, would you be prepared to offer them a reduction in rate if they chose to not to have their room serviced or at least had it serviced every other day? Personally I think this is a great idea and if I was staying in a hotel for two nights, I would be more than happy not have towels or shampoo replaced if I knew that this was helping my environmental footprint and might even give me a cost saving.
And what about your ethical and social footprint… Recently I took my daughter to Rome for 3 nights on a short city break. I did my research online and narrowed my decision to two hotels, both within my budget and preferred location. So how did I make my decision on which one to book? Well it was because one of them had a social policy to donate €1.00 for every booking they received directly on their brand website to a homeless charity in Rome. They had this messaging on their homepage, along with a year-to-date total of how much they had donated. The deal was sealed… They didn’t ask me to add this €1.00 to my booking or donate anything extra, it was clear from the outset that this donation was their choice and I loved it!
I guess as hoteliers we are often fooled into thinking that it is always about price; that our customers are bargain hunters and that is the main influence on buying decision. It may be for many but not for all. I would much rather pay a little more for a hotel that I knew was environmentally friendly and socially aware and I am not alone…
(and for all things revenue, just firstname.lastname@example.org)