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As part of HX: The Hotel Experience, the trade show held earlier this month in New York, I moderated a panel discussion on innovations in the laundry and how one can benefit by saving energy, reducing water and chemical consumption, and extending towel and linen life. There was a lot of laundry experience represented on the stage that day. It was an honor to have companies like Water Energy Technologies and Laundry Consulting, Pellerin Milnor Corp., Xeros, Inc., and P&G Professional Business represented. Admittedly, I have never worked in a hotel laundry or even worked in a hotel for that matter, but I have gotten a pretty good sense over the many years that I have been covering this industry that the laundry is one of the operational areas most prone to inefficiencies and dysfunctionality—and possibly even strangeness.
HX: The Hotel Experience and Boutique Design New York (BDNY) wrapped up last week at the Javits Center in New York City. HX, formerly the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show (IHMRS), was a great place to be if your goal was to find new products and technologies to help green up your property. At BDNY, there were many green stories as well, although sometimes not as readily apparent if you were walking the trade show floor. Those looking for radical changes from the IHMRS events in years past did not find them but there were some additions that stood out as welcome changes. For example, there were stages dedicated to different topics where panel discussions were held and suppliers had an opportunity to talk about their products. At HX: ONSTAGE-HOTEL I led three discussions.
You are most likely reading this while I am attending HX: The Hotel Experience in New York City. The event, what was once the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS), is taking place from Nov. 8-10 and is adjacent to Boutique Design New York (BDNY) which is being held Nov. 8-9. Both events are at the Javits Center. I am writing this column in advance of the show and am very excited to see how different HX will be from IHMRS. The owners of the event have invested a lot in revitalizing the show. I will be moderating three green sessions on the following topics: “The Numbers Behind the Trends—Gauging Traveler/Hotelier Reaction to the Greening of Lodging,” “C-Level Strategy—What’s Driving Lodging’s Leading Companies to Invest in Sustainability,” and “You Want Me to Do What?...in the Laundry?”
One of the most impressive reports to come along in recent years is the Green Venue Report. Just released for the second time, it is available for free (sign up here to download it). The 59-page report highlights the results of a 158-question survey. Topic areas range from energy, waste and staff involvement to food and beverage, water and air quality. Conducted in the spring and based on 2014 information, this year’s data set includes 30 convention centers from six countries and four continents. Compared to year one of the report, the number of participants nearly doubled. Twenty-one of the 205 convention centers in the United States are represented (10 percent). Well designed graphically with callouts of fascinating findings, the report is rich with best practices and is mostly a snapshot of the best of the best.
This past week was a busy news week. First, Marriott International released its 2015 Sustainability Report. Found here, it includes 12 different sections ranging from Business Ethics and Human Rights to Environmental Performance. Of note, Marriott has reduced its energy intensity (kWh of per square meter of conditioned space) by 9.4 percent since 2007, its water intensity (cubic meter per occupied room) by 22.9 percent, and its greenhouse gas emissions intensity (kilograms per square meter) by 10 percent. If you would like to compare Marriott’s performance from year to year, the company now has six years of sustainability reports on its website. I will be chatting with Mari Snyder, V.P., Corporate Social Responsibility at Marriott this coming week to learn more about the company’s efforts.
I have written a number of times about shipping containers and how they have been used in our industry. Early this year I posted an article about the Days Inn-Sioux Lookout in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, a property made from 120 shipping containers. At least one hotel—the Ritz-Carlton, Naples (Fla.) is using a shipping container in a different way—to grow crops. I spoke briefly with Gabrielle O’Boyle, Communications Manager at the hotel, and she told me the container sits in a service drive area of the property. I plan to interview George Fistrovich, the Executive Chef at the hotel, to get more details. What I know at this point is that the on-site Grow House is the first of its kind in a resort setting.
Is it just me or do you also feel a bit guilty each time you use a paper towel to dry your hands in a public restroom? Given the advances that have been made with hand dryers (read my hand dryer article that I posted this week) I really don’t understand why commercial establishments and public facilities still offer paper towels. Am I missing something here? If you are still offering paper towels to your guests, perhaps even in combination with hand dryers, what is your rationale for doing so? I would love to know. I asked Robert Green, U.S. Head Engineer at Dyson, whether or not his company still comes across some customers that utilize both hand dryers and paper towels and he told me it depends on the customer.
The Spafinder Wellness 365 eighth annual 2015 State of Wellness Travel report offers a glimpse at the evolving travel habits of those travelers interested in “maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being.” This includes the pursuit of physical, mental, spiritual or environmental wellness while traveling for either leisure or business. The study was conducted in July and August. More than 200 travel agents in North America and Europe participated. I found the results quite interesting. Eighty-six percent of agents reported that they expect wellness travel to grow this year. Fourteen percent expected it to stay the same. The 86 percent is the highest percentage in the history of the survey.
Of the five educational sessions I moderated at last year’s International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show in New York City (event now called HX: The Hotel Experience), the session that drew the most participants was entitled, “Crafting a Career in Sustainability in Hospitality & Tourism—Sustainability Trends in Hospitality Education.” It was great to see young people so excited about sustainability. Whenever I see a young person trying to make a difference in our industry, I do my best to give that person a lot of exposure and encouragement. In 2013 I profiled the work of Milo Cress, an 11-year-old at the time whose goal was to get restaurants and bars to go straw free. He founded the Be Straw Free Campaign.
Smoking rooms were in the news again this past week—in several instances. First, state lawmaker Ken Zebrowski proposed a bill that would ban smoking rooms within lodging establishments in New York. Second, Choice Hotels International announced that Comfort Inn will join Comfort Suites in implementing a 100 percent smoke-free policy beginning July 1, 2016, making Comfort the largest hotel brand in the United States to do so with more than 1,700 properties across the country. Third, Caesars Entertainment announced that 11 of its casino-resort and entertainment properties achieved LEED Equivalency. The properties failed to achieve actual LEED certification because USGBC regulations prohibit properties that allow smoking from achieving LEED certification.
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