Results from Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism Report

by Glenn Hasek June 23, 2016 04:37

Mandala Research and Sustainable Travel International recently released the results of their 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report. The findings are based on a survey of 2,292 leisure travelers. A lead sponsor of the study was Visit California. Additional sponsors included Travel Oregon, G Adventures, Destination Better, Shop America Alliance, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping, and Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. According to the report, 60 percent of U.S. travelers (105.3 million) have taken a sustainable trip in the last three years. They spend more (on average $600 per trip), stay longer (seven days compared to four days) and bring higher benefits to local communities including job creation, giving-back and volunteering. More than half (53 percent) of sustainable travelers report that sustainable practices at the destination were a driver of destination choice, either being the “key factor in their decision” to visit the destination (28 percent) or helping them choose between destinations (25 percent), (compared to only eight percent of all other travelers.)

Sixty-three percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. The number jumps to 75 percent among sustainable travelers. Travelers feel a great deal of responsibility for ensuring their trip has a positive impact on the place they visit, 63 percent; 64 percent believe that responsibility also rests with local government. More than 60 percent of all travelers feel strongly about their obligation to leave an area the same or better than they found it. More than two-fifths of sustainable travelers say they have purchased from travel companies because they believe they offer fair wages to their employees and invest in employees. Thirty-eight percent say they have done business with travel companies who have helped to reduce human trafficking. The 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report included 40 questions. To access the entire report, click here.

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New Jersey Winding Down Garden State Green Hotels Project

by Glenn Hasek June 15, 2016 05:56

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is winding down its Garden State Green Hotels Project. At the same time, the Travel Green New Jersey website is on schedule for updating with green lodging establishments that are located in New Jersey. So says Ky Asral, Manager, Small Business Environmental Assistance Program at New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. Asral has been managing the Garden State Green Hotels Project that has provided 120 hotels in New Jersey with on-site assistance in four areas: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of use of hazardous material, reduction of use of water and other natural resources, and the reduction of solid waste. Asral told me that 120 hotels have been visited and now are being evaluated to see what progress they have made. Even when the Garden State Green Hotels Project closes, Asral says the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will continue to provide assistance to hotels interested in reducing their environmental impact. So far, the Travel Green New Jersey website has not included a list of green lodging establishments in the Garden State.

Asral says that should change by the end of the summer. Properties with green certifications will be listed along with the certifications they have. “Somebody looking at staying at a green hotel could look at a map on the site,” Asral says. “We want the information at somebody’s fingertips.” New Jersey is one of many states that have some type of state level green lodging recognition program.

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More on Our First Annual Green Lodging Survey

by Glenn Hasek June 08, 2016 08:18

To what degree does climate change drive you to make operational improvements and investments? Do you provide preferred parking locations for guests and staff driving fuel efficient vehicles (hybrids, electric vehicles)? Do bathroom fans include humidity sensors to shut them off when no longer needed? These are just a few examples of questions included in the Green Lodging Survey that just went “live” today and that will close on August 31. Green Lodging News partnered with Greenview to produce the survey. There are 108 questions to complete. Some of the questions require simply a yes or no answer. Others require you to write an answer. Some of the questions require checking a box. If you own or operate a lodging establishment, please take the time to complete the survey. After the survey closes, a Trends Report will be produced that will analyze the results with general trends and highlight exemplary practices and innovations that stand out. Survey participants will receive a compare report confidential to each participant, to serve as a yardstick for a property to understand the status of each specific practice within the general participant universe.

If, while going through the survey you think of a question that should have been asked this year but was not, write it down and send it to me. Likewise, if you see a question that you believe should not be in the survey, let me know. Of course you should explain why. We want this survey to be a collaboration and a document that gets better over time.

In addition to completing the survey, please be sure to support our sponsors: The Arbor Day Foundation, Aquawing Ozone Laundry Systems, reCollect2 Co., and Pineapple Hospitality. And finally, if you are interested in sponsoring the survey, there are opportunities at four levels—Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. For sponsorship information, click here. You may also contact me, Glenn Hasek, Publisher & Editor of Green Lodging News, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com. For technical assistance with the survey, contact Eric Ricaurte, Founder & CEO, Greenview, at (202) 470-1094, or eric@greenview.sg.

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Xeros Survey Gauges ‘Why Towels Matter’

by Glenn Hasek June 02, 2016 05:54

Along with the mattress and pillow, the towel has got to rank as one of the top few guestroom items impacting the guest experience. In my travels I have experienced many hotel towels that were anything but fluffy or that had an unpleasant odor from the laundering process. I suspect you have experienced the same. Xeros, maker of a laundry system that replaces up to 80 percent of the water with polymer beads, just released the results of its survey entitled, “Why Towels Matter: The Surprising Role that Towels Play in a Hotel’s Success.” The survey had an impressive 1,160 responses from business and vacation travelers in the United States and the United Kingdom. The study revealed that 94 percent of all respondents believe that the quality of towels is important for overall customer satisfaction. In addition, the survey found that 73 percent of the survey respondents believe that the quality of towels will influence their decision to return to a hotel brand for future visits, while 84 percent believe towel quality influences brand perception.

When asked about towel attributes, cleanliness was identified as the most important attribute followed by softness. Surprisingly, high thread counts, the attribute that is generally associated with expensive luxury towels, came in last. The study found that 77 percent of travelers usually or always reference online reviews before selecting a hotel. One-third of the respondents said that they would write a negative review on an online site if they were not satisfied with the towels. And 52 of the respondents said that they have already written a negative review due to poor towel quality. Eighty-five percent of respondents reuse towels because they are concerned about the environment and 77 percent of people said that when choosing a hotel they actively search for places that have eco-friendly laundry facilities. Interestingly, the survey found that 31 percent of respondents think washing laundry on premise versus sending it out to a third-party vendor results in cleaner towels.

To access a report summarizing the survey findings, click here.

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MACH Energy Survey: Most Industry Professionals Spend Little Time Each Month on Energy, Water

by Glenn Hasek May 25, 2016 05:59

Few, if any, suppliers have conducted large-scale surveys of hoteliers to better understand their energy and water management efforts. MACH Energy, a provider of energy and water management software services and solutions, recently conducted a survey that reached out to more than 5,000 industry professionals. Wei-En Tan, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at MACH Energy, told me there were about 1,000 respondents but only about 300 that completed all of the survey. The survey is available for downloading. Be sure to check it out. There were a number of interesting findings detailed in the survey report. For example, while 61 percent of respondents reported their hotels ran a sustainability program, the success of these programs remained unclear. In fact, 42 percent of those with programs did not know if their program was achieving savings. Tan told me that in some hotels the idea of a sustainability program is a linen/towel reuse program. If that is the case, many are not even measuring the positive impact of not having to wash linens and towels.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they did not have a sustainability program, and another 7 percent were unaware if a program existed. Among respondents who had implemented energy and water efficiency and sustainability measures, 80 percent listed cost reduction as their primary motivator, followed by interests or requirements of guests (39 percent) and Energy Star scores or LEED requirements (30 percent). Jon Moeller, CEO of MACH Energy, told me that while 92 percent of respondents knew the general sizes of their common areas, 30 percent did not know the utility costs tied to the common areas, showing areas for improvement in reducing usage. As many have said, you cannot monitor what you do not measure.

Thirty percent of respondents reported that their hotels used energy management software (EMS), and 65 percent reported that their hotels had no EMS. Among the respondents whose hotels reportedly had EMS, 68 percent were actually confusing EMS with a building automation system or some other product. Truth be told, when I see “EMS”, I think “Energy Management System.” It is easy to see how folks can get confused by acronyms. “There seems to be a great opportunity to introduce a better understanding of EMS to the lodging industry,” the survey said.

Granted, the 2016 Hotel Industry Survey: Energy and Water Management Best Practices was created in part to serve the interests of MACH Energy. That said, it did unveil some fascinating—or, maybe concerning—findings. For example, for the surveyed hotel professionals, energy (or water) management activities did not occupy a great portion of their time. Fifty-eight percent of respondents spent just two hours or less a month on them.

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E.ON Survey Offers Glimpse at How Travelers Perceive Green Hotel Practices

by Glenn Hasek May 18, 2016 04:32

E.ON, one of the United Kingdom’s leading power and gas companies, last week released the results of its survey of 2,000 travelers. The survey primarily focused on traveler attitudes toward green hotel practices. According to the survey results, one-third of guests say hotels and B&Bs should be judged on sustainability, with an accreditation system similar to food and service quality. One in five people would be more likely to stay in or recommend a B&B or boutique hotel if it used renewable energy sources. Similar numbers would be swayed by knowing the hotel used energy efficient measures such as low energy lighting (17 percent). Half of guests say that the sustainability and energy use of a hotel is important to them. One in 10 want their accommodation to have smart thermostats in the room so they can monitor their energy usage, while a similar number want a recycled water system. The research also found that half of hotel guests would be willing to be an “eco-customer” if they got a 10 percent discount for adopting environmentally friendly behaviors such as using a single towel during their stay, having their lights and electricity on stand-by, and limiting hot water use.

With one-third of survey respondents admitting to using more energy at hotels than they would at home, hotels may need to think about how to incentivize their guests to keep their energy use down, as well as ensuring their own energy systems are as efficient as possible. The survey says that most hospitality businesses refurbish every seven to 10 years and this provides a significant opportunity to respond to changing guest preferences as well as adapt for energy savings. According to the Carbon Trust, some hospitality businesses have seen energy costs reduced by as much as 40 percent thanks to steps taken during refurbishment. E.ON has developed an online Energy Toolkit which helps businesses of all sizes track and adapt their energy use through reports and alerts.

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Interface Closing in on 2020 Mission Zero Goal

by Glenn Hasek May 12, 2016 04:39

Interface, the world’s largest commercial modular carpet company, demonstrated its leadership yet again last week with the announcement that its Americas manufacturing sites now operate using 96 percent renewable energy. Globally, the company operates on 84 percent renewable energy. The Americas milestone was achieved with the addition of directed biogas to meet the thermal energy needs of the company’s flagship operations in Troup County, Ga. It was 22 years ago that Interface launched Mission Zero, a quest to eliminate its carbon footprint. Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface at the time, declared that Interface was committed to becoming the world’s first environmentally sustainable—and, ultimately, restorative—company. Mission Zero is Interface’s promise to eliminate its negative environmental impacts by 2020. In a press release announcing Interface’s progress toward its 2020 goal, Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability for Interface, said, “Getting our factories in Americas to near 100 percent in renewable energy is a significant achievement—one that is a first for our industry and likely for industry in general.”

As Interface has worked to shift away from fossil fuel derived energy and towards renewables, the company has deployed a variety of strategies. In 2005, Interface pioneered the direct use of landfill gas derived from a local landfill at one of its Troup County, Ga. facilities. Beginning in 2015, Interface started supplementing this landfill gas use by procuring directed biogas, whereby the renewable attributes of biogas injected at one point on an interconnected pipeline system are matched with the same quantity of natural gas at another point on the system. Today, directed biogas makes up 53 percent of the company’s local renewable energy profile, which is rounded out with 42 percent renewable electricity, 4 percent propane and 1 percent landfill gas.

Interface’s 2020 goal is just one part of its sustainability strategy. Interface was the first North American carpet manufacturer to publish a third party verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and it has since expanded its EPDs into seven product categories. Now, 99 percent of Interface products globally have an EPD. An EPD provides the product ingredients and environmental impacts that happen during the entire life of a product. It’s similar to the ingredient and nutrition labels on food. Instead of calories and recommended daily allowances, an EPD shows things like raw material extraction, energy use, air, soil and water emissions and water use and waste generation.

Interface’s carpet designs reflect nature. Its Human Nature collection, for example, remind one of the materials, textures and tones found in the natural world. The collection is made of up to 81 percent total recycled content, including 100 percent recycled content nylon face fiber and Interface’s highest post-consumer recycled content backing. At the same time, these products can be recycled via Interface’s ReEntry recycling process.

Earlier this year, building on the success of its ReEntry recycling operation—which has yielded the diversion of more than 309 million pounds of carpet from landfills over the past 20 years—Interface announced that it is creating a new network of regional recycling allies. First among them is Oakland, Calif.–based Rethink Green, and this initial alliance is expected to increase the amount of carpet that’s annually recycled for use by Interface by 40 to 50 percent. Last May, Interface was awarded LEED-CI Gold certification for its flagship Atlanta showroom which opened the previous July.

To learn more about Interface’s many accomplishments in the area of sustainability, click here. Also be sure to do a search on “Interface” on the Green Lodging News website.

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Avendra Outlines Sustainability Goals, Progress in New Online Document

by Glenn Hasek April 27, 2016 04:48

Late last year I reported on Avendra’s hiring of a new sustainability manager, Hamzah Abu-Ragheb, and Avendra’s requirement that all of its suppliers have a sustainability policy in place by the end of 2016. For those of you not familiar with Avendra, it is a procurement services provider formed in 2001 with the support of companies such as Marriott, Hyatt, Fairmont and Club Corp. Marriott (managed hotels) is Avendra’s largest customer. The bulk of what is purchased through Avendra is F&B related. I just heard from Hamzah and he informed me that Avendra just posted a document on its website that outlines its sustainability goals and provides an update on its progress. I read through the document, entitled “Sustainability Journey and Goals (2012-2016),” and according to Avendra, 93.5 percent of supplier contracts now have a sustainability policy on file. Those that do not yet have a sustainability policy on file are mainly smaller companies and/or companies in the Mexico/Caribbean area. Avendra is working on outreach and education to support these suppliers in developing a policy.

According to the document, Avendra is requiring that supplier sustainability policies include four elements. The four elements demonstrate a supplier’s commitment to being a part of the sustainability journey, while also supporting Avendra’s goals around accountability and transparency. First, the policy must be written. Second, the policy must include a vision statement around sustainability. Third, the policy must be signed by/endorsed by the CEO, owner, president or most senior manager. Fourth, the policy must be shared with Avendra and customers.

In order to help its customers meet its sustainability objectives and mitigate sustainability related risks within the supply chain, Avendra is also focused on driving sustainability issues forward within key categories/products. The categories include: 1. Personal Paper; 2. Sourcing Locally Produced Foods; 3. LED Lighting; 4. Foodservice Disposables; 5. Seafood; 6. Packaging; 7. Uniforms; 8. Textiles; 9. Palm Oil; and 10. Cleaning Chemicals.

In the document, each of the product categories is addressed. For example, regarding sustainable seafood, Avendra now considers the sustainable offering of a supplier during the RFP process. Alos, Avendra will continue to work with existing suppliers to increase certified sustainable seafood offerings.

Avendra says it will continue to provide updates on its progress in the months and years ahead.

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More Earth Day Activities from Green Lodging News Readers

by Glenn Hasek April 20, 2016 05:45

Since publishing my Earth Day column last week I have heard from a number of other companies and hotels with their Earth Day plans. First, a representative of Destination Hotels sent me a long list of activities that will take place at Destination Hotels properties as part of the company’s Destination Earth program. Upon checking in April 21 through April 22 at Hotel Derek, A Destination Hotel in Houston, each guest will receive a Texas shaped paper, which will bloom into a Texas wild flower garden. Additionally, the property will be featuring a farm to table menu to include local Texas wine specials in its Revolve Restaurant and Bar. Hotel Derek will also hold an all associate town hall with a farm to table menu, challenging associates to plant the provided assortment of seed packet gifts. Associates who bring in recyclable goods that they may have otherwise thrown away will receive a raffle ticket and be entered to win one of two $50 Target gift cards.

The Carolina Inn, A Destination Hotel in Chapel Hill, N.C., is celebrating Earth Day by holding a Book Drive benefit at the property’s local library. On Earth Day, L’Auberge Del Mar, A Destination Hotel in Del Mar, Calif., will “turn down the power” in the lobby in the evening and encourage guests to do the same. At the Seaport Hotel in Boston, associates will be installing two new, raised planters on the fifth floor roof—the same roof where nearly one million bees reside in hives. Also in celebration of Earth Day, the Seaport Hotel will be offering all guests staying overnight, and each of their team members, reusable Seaport Saves tote bags. At the 1 Hotel Central Park, visitors are being asked to be inspired by an Intention Tree on 6th Avenue during and Earth Day 5K Walking Tour. Visitors can read intentions expressed by the 1 Team and express their own.

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‘Pay as You Please’ Chef’s Table at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain

by Glenn Hasek April 13, 2016 08:14

Would you trust your guests to pay what they believe is appropriate for food and service? That is what is happening at China’s Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain. There, a pay what you believe is appropriate pay policy is being implemented at the Chef’s Table at the Farm2Fork restaurant. The policy went into effect this month. Each Saturday morning after the chef has finished his rounds at the vegetable farm and confirmed with the local suppliers for the day’s availability of fresh produce, a four-course dinner menu is devised and written on the chalkboard at the upper level of the Farm2Fork restaurant. Come dinnertime, guests share a long table where the food is served family style. Rick Gonzalez, Executive Chef of the resort says, “This experience gives an opportunity for guests from all parts of the world to get together and chat with each other over dinner.” Chef Rick joins the dinner to share information on the sourcing and inspiration for the local ingredients used in the menu that he has created and shares a culinary tip or two.

A typical menu includes items such as hand rolled Parpadelle pasta, local farm raised Sturgeon, crispy shallots, green apple, Chinese celery remoulade, Sichuan sausage, wok-charred garden pea shoots and homemade Sichuan peppercorn ice cream.

Manish Puri, General Manager of Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, loved the idea of a daily fresh-from-the-garden menu and to add a quirky element, issued the chef a friendly challenge by deciding not to have a fixed price for the Chef’s Table. Manish stated, “We don’t want to offer a fixed price. Guests can pay what they feel the food and service is worth. Our reward will be the smiles, the knowledge and anecdotes that we have been able to impart and the friends that will be made.”

The Chef’s Table is limited to a total of 12 guests. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. and service finishes at 9 p.m. Drinks are extra.

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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.