The hospitality industry is a very competitive one mainly because of the number of current market players, standards required for operations and high return of investments. It is a profitable industry that is almost on a constant market high due to its reliance on key economic sectors like tourism and the provision of basic needs like food and shelter to man. Factors influencing the success of a hotel include branding, prestige associated with the hotel, quality of service, affordability and location. Due to its competitive nature most of the hotel managers and owners are tasked with the responsibility of finding means of re-invention in order to retain a rather volatile market.
Running a hotel can be a very expensive affair if a hotel is to maintain its high standards. Major costs experienced by hotel owners include cots of food, transport, service management, energy in form of fuel and light as well as waste management costs. Over the recent years a number of hotels have opted to go green as a strategy on saving costs, saving resources and contributing to future development.
More hotels are going green in response to what can be assumed as a consumer desire for industries to make considerable ethical industrial purchasing and management decisions and inclusions. On the larger front eco-friendliness is viewed as a humanitarian response to environmental issues of energy management that benefits an individual, the participating organization and the world as a whole. However, deeper insight into the emerging trends lead to the asking of crucial questions. Are eco-friendly hotels a fashion fad or a sensible future development option for the hospitality industry?
In order to answer that question we need to ask another crucial question. Who is the key beneficiary of the going green trend? This argumentative paper seeks to establish that the hotel owners are the larger beneficiaries and going green is a fad aimed at increasing profits, increasing competition among luxury hotels and a marketing and public relations strategy as opposed to the perception that going green favors the environment more (HCIMA, 2008). The best way to establish this argument is by discussing the eco friendliness concept, its popularity and whether the hospitality industry should keep the trend of going green. This is then followed by a review of the benefits of eco-friendliness and a deeper insight of the argument.
The rise in environmental pollution caused alarm and the need for industries to take action in the prevention of further depletion of the environment. Some of the harmful effects on the environment include carbon dioxide emissions that lead to depletion of the ozone layer, waste chemicals and by-products that pollute the soils, air and water and combustion of oil which also leads to air pollution. Other issues that raised concern included water and electricity wastage and over-usage (School, 2008). The hospitality industry played a key factor because of its provision of services to individuals without restraint. Going green as an alternative for hotels aided in solving the dilemma that hotels would have been faced with as to whether to maintain high service standards and allow misuse of resources or risk losing customers in the name of being efficient.
Many hotels have adapted several eco-friendly energy saving and waste disposal methods. These include using solar power as an alternative energy source, maximizing on daylight during the day to save electricity costs, use of fluorescent energy saving tubes and bulbs for lighting, use of alternative material for furniture for example bamboo, use of towels and materials that can be recycled, use of organic and bi-degradable products for example soaps and shampoos, waste separation as a waste management technique, use of bio-diesel as fuel, and use of electric and solar powered vehicles for transport within the hotels. Other methods applied include the growing of trees, actively involvement of customers in the process by educating them and prohibiting smoking in the hotel environment.
These energy saving measures have gone a long way in the reduction of energy costs of running a hotel. A research done by Timetric, a business management and risk value organization, indicates that environmental initiatives among hotels in the hospitality industry were the latest trend. According to the research 35% of hotel owner correspondents indicated that their going green initiatives projected a 5% reduction of the entire budget of the year (Timetric, 2015). For an industry that spends millions on energy costs annually any form of reduction was bound to be welcomed with great anticipation and appreciation.
The same report indicates that use of green cleaning products and organic food as considered as a great sustainability measure by respondents who were potential customers. The public responded well in regard to going green policies and showed interest in exploring hotels that adopted environment sustainability measures. This led to the increase of this trend among hotel in order to fulfill customer needs. Organizations like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Alternative Energy News (ANE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been at the forefront of campaigning for alternative energy sources and decline of environmental pollution (Harmon, 2007). This has motivated many businesses to shape their organizations in line with the environmental policies.
Information relayed in this writing indicates that going green has a positive effect on the business, environment and customer. Customers experience a clean environment, clean food and actively participate in environmental conservation. The hospitality industry owners save on energy expenses as a result of going green and also participate actively in the safeguarding of the environment. Going green has also led to the reinvention of technology by means of finding alternative energy sources. More innovations like clean fuelled cars are coming up in order to solve this crisis thus leading to further advancement of technology.
Although eco-friendliness promotes environmental protection, there are people who stand to benefit more from it than as portrayed and these are the key players in the hospitality industry. In addition to being a means to promote a healthy environment, going green has numerous benefits economically and socially to hotels that implement these policies and this is why:
If the purpose of going green was to save on resources this would be reflected in the cost of running the hotel and eventually on the customer seeking the service. Instead of hotels becoming cheaper those implementing green technology become more expensive. The rise in cost of the client plus the reduction in running costs only result to more profit for hotels. This is enough of a motivating factor for people to jump on the going green trend. An interview done on the General Manager of The Muse Hotel in New York can be used to illustrate this. In her interview Ericka Nelson stated that going green was only a fad that had a reduction on costs but no return (News, 2015). According to her, clients were meant to pay for the green services offered at premium rates but without this increase in charge there is no point of a hotel going green. After the Muse Hotel she discouraged the idea of transforming any other hotels in construction to green hotels.
According to the trends it can be significantly noted that most hotels transforming to green hotels are luxury hotels and those that offer high standard services. Examples include Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels, Hilton Hotels and Virgin Hotels. The main target of these hotels are upper class people who are willing to pay extra for the green services. One would think that if saving resources was the main agenda then the low-end basic hotels would be the first to jump on the idea however going green remains an initiative for the luxury hotels who are able to recover costs by increasing their rates. For example the Newyork World Trade Centre building was rebuilt along the eco-friendly policies and now charges premium rent rates. Going green gives hotels autonomy over the customer charges (Butler & Mitchell, 2014). This then create a trend in which all major brand names in the hotel industry wanted to be associated with.
As stated before the hospitality industry is a very competitive one. Hotels can easily lack popularity if they do not maintain high standards of service or find ways to re-invent themselves. Human beings are generally drawn towards the allure of novelty and like to be associated with brand names. Going green has been used as a fad in which hotels can re-invent their service, maintain brand name and get additional good public relation because of being associated with a worthy environmental protection cause. It also provides an opportunity for the hospitality industry to create an entire market, promote it and finally tap into the financial benefits of the said market. Individuals are more receptive to the idea of making ethical based choices when purchasing with makes a good factor for green hotels to grow.
Although there are varied reasons for going green the initiative is still one that shows promise. The hospitality industry should embrace going green by all means due to the benefits involved. This is an opportunity to not only kill two but three birds in one stone; reduce running costs, create good marketing grounds to attract more customers and at the same time be actively involved in the participation of environmental conservation policies. As preaching the message of environmental conservation gains momentum globally this trend will soon be a requirement in other industries other than that of the hospitality industry. All hotels therefore may as well follow this trend that serves their own good at the end of the day. The public also needs to be sensitized on the importance of participating in environmental conservation programs and supporting structures that do so. The adverse effects of neglecting the environment are no match to any reasons whether economic, social or development-based, used to justify the application of going green policies.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Butler, J. M., & Mitchell. (2014). Investment Law. Catherine DeBono Holmes Publisher.
Harmon, D. E. (2007). The Environmental Protection Agency. Philadelphia : Chelsea House Publishers.
HCIMA. (2008). Hotel Catering and Institutional Management. Managing Your Business in Harmony with the Environment,, 4-10.
News, H. (2015, May). Measuring the benefits of a green hotel. Retrieved from Hotel News website: http://www.hotelnewsnow.com
School, H. B. (2008). Going Green. Boston: Havard Business School Publishers.
Timetric. (2015, May). Global Hotel Industry Survey 2013: Emerging Trends in Technology, Sustainability Health and Wellness Tourism. Retrieved from Timetric website: https://timetric.com/
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