No worthy cause has attracted more than its share of controversy and backlash than the “Green Movement”. It is unfortunate because that often-rancorous debate has obscured the single most practical reason to think green: it’s good business, particularly for hotel owners.
In my experience, there is an absolute advantage to being green. For starters, more and more corporations are examining hotels’ green policies when deciding where to book their employees. In my country, for example, the Hotel Association of Canada has established a Five Key rating system for hotels’ green policies—and government employees are encouraged to stay at Green Key hotels. That's a lot of potential business.
That said, these days it’s not just businesses looking at hotels’ green policies. More and more pleasure travelers are as well, particularly travelers from Western Europe. So if your property attracts tourism from that region, it absolutely makes sense to go green.
This trend is far from unique to Europe. Even the Chinese government is taking significant steps forward in its green policies. China has literally built entire “green” cities. And given the growth of its economy, there are projections that the country could produce as many as 100 million new tourists in the next few years. Travelers who, given their educational and economic status, are likely to have progressive green attitudes themselves.
In addition to its revenue-boosting potential, going green can lead to any number of cost savings—from your utility bills to the price of waste removal. Granted, there are often up front investments, but—all things considered—our own organization’s green investments have more than paid for themselves.
The third important reason we should all think green is political. Establishing forward-thinking, economically feasible policies for our industry is the best way to prevent the government from stepping in, and doing it for us. (I can’t imagine any further comment on that topic is necessary!)
Finally, let’s be honest: adapting policies that minimize our impact on the environment is the right thing to do. It’s that simple. The good news is that doing the right thing is also good for business. Many of our hotels play prominent roles in their communities, and it's up to us to lead by example. Time and again, experience has proven that leading by example pays long-term dividends in community goodwill.
It’s easy to forget that we are in a position to set trends, and positively influence the way people think. Going green is one trend we can all live with—and prosper in the process.