Many hotels and resorts have had green initiatives in place for decades while others have been slower to adopt sustainability efforts. This slow adoption may be due to the low cost of energy or, simply, lack of awareness. As costs continue to increase in all areas of hotel operations, owners and managers can help their bottom line by changing business practices to save energy and water. Not only can these efforts save the business money, but they can also attract and retain customers. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, hoteliers can take advantage of this movement and gain valuable market share by embracing green initiatives and publicizing these efforts. Travelers may select to stay with hotel brands that put our planet first.
Some hotel cost-saving and environmentally-friendly initiatives include:
- Offering guests the option to save water by using their towels for more than one day
- Installing devices that shut off lights and air conditioning when the guest isn't in their room
- Installing motion sensors in common areas (gym, guest laundry room, game room, etc.) so lights shut off when vacant
- Emailing guest bill, only printing upon request
- Landscaping with native or drought-tolerant plants
- Installing a system to reuse greywater for landscaping irrigation
- Encouraging guests to walk by providing a map of dining and entertainment options close by
- Installing solar panels, wind turbines, and/or battery storage on property
- Convert hotel pool from chlorine system to saltwater
Learn more in our Sustainable Tourism section.
Hotels, like all businesses, are regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its subsequent amendments. Older hotels that have not done recent renovations may lack some resources and accommodations for disabled guests. Hotels will benefit from ensuring that they are in compliance with current ADA regulations by avoiding lawsuits and being inclusive of all guests who may visit their property. In addition to staying current on ADA requirements, hotel owners and managers should follow industry publications to learn about property and amenity improvements that can improve the guest experience for disabled guests. The best thing a hotel can do is provide disability training to its staff. If employees do not understand the unique needs of potential guests with varying disabilities, they can unknowingly cause them more challenges during their stay. Housekeeping staff can leave rooms with essential items (towels, tv remote, room service menu, etc.) at a level that a guest in a wheelchair can reach them. Bell staff can provide visually impaired guests with a tour of their room upon arrival. Front desk staff can use a tablet to type back and forth with hearing impaired guests during the check-in process.
Learn more in our Assistive Technology section.
Some accommodations hotels can make include:
- Policies that prioritize the needs of guests with disabilities (quiet rooms set aside for guests with psychological or social-emotional conditions, physically accessible rooms set aside for guests with physical disabilities, etc.)
- Online booking system that allows guests to share specific needs so hotel staff can prepare appropriate accommodations
- Installation of elevators, ramps, and railings throughout the property to assist physically disabled guests
- Proper signage throughout the property including Braille (a tactile writing system) for visually impaired guests
- Policies that welcome service animals and facilities to support the animals' needs
Diversity & Inclusion
Hotel staff often include individuals from diverse ethnic, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds. However, this diversity is often at the lower levels of the organization and doesn't penetrate into management. Many hotel brands are making efforts to change this. This is evident by Marriott International and Hilton ranking first and second, respectively, on DiversityInc 2020 Top 50 List. However, there is still much work to be done in the areas of diversity and inclusion within the lodging sector. Organizations should take a close look at their hiring practices, employee training, and marketing goals to ensure that inclusion is at the forefront of what they do.