Green Hotel: The Business Case For Sustainable Tourism
Given the world’s growing concern with respect to global warming and its immediate consequences for the Earth’s ecosystem, which to a fair degree contribute to climate change around the world, it is not surprising that environment protection gradually becomes one of the leading factors in shaping consumers’ behaviour. Customers want products and services that are environmentally friendly and which are being designed in a socially responsible way. The hospitality sector in particular and the tourism industry in general are no exception to the rule.
As Fran Brasseux (Executive Director at Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Foundation) puts it: “Green is no longer just a trend. It’s a way of life”. Thus, those businesses that consider to capitalize on this growing and expanding ‘green’ lifestyle, shall ensure the consistency of their ecological footprints with the environment sustainability provisions, in the first place. By conducting a responsible business policy that will account for both environment protection causes and profit projections, a symbiotic relationship between the host communities and business organisations could be established, that will benefit everyone.
Considering the levels of modernization, industrialization and services development that humanity has witnessed in the last one hundred years, it won’t be an overestimation to claim that the case for environment sustainability, which many corporations are keen on endorsing, is becoming a delicate subject. An eco-friendly business model requires an ethical and socially responsible approach when dealing with issues of natural resources conservation, which does not always fit the general framework of profit maximization.
According to CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) 2013 Report: With continuing growth in travel, there is increasing recognition among both travel professionals and consumers of the importance of responsible travel— a trend that may help contain and minimize the negative impacts on the environment, generate economic benefits to host communities, and preserve the cultural and natural heritages of the tourist destinations. Fortunately for travel businesses and destinations, there is strong evidence that responsible travel is also good for the economic bottom line.
Within the last few years, sustainability has become much more mainstream within the tourism industry, with increasing numbers of businesses focusing on reducing the negative environmental impact while still saving money and enhancing the customer’s experience by adopting environmental and social good practices and looking at ways to ‘green’ their supply chain.
Nevertheless, for a company to truly benefit from the endorsement of a ‘green’ business model, it is paramount to acknowledge the importance of an effective marketing communication, that would convey the message of environment sustainability to the existent and potential customers. Being green is not enough for ensuring the success of a business, communicating and advertising the concept of ‘greenness’ is required.
Therefore, a Green Marketing strategy that will promote the company’s eco-friendly engagement would be adequate. In the context of environmental sustainability, green marketing shall not be regarded as a tool for boosting a brand’s image, but a long term commitment aimed at educating and engaging the customers in environmentally friendly activities, establishing a level of social interaction between the organisation, local communities and consumers. Thus, as pointed by Mary Jo Hatch (a professor emerita and researcher in organization theory at Copenhagen Business School, Gothenburg School of Economics and Boston College) by securing social support, a company will ensure its survival and expansion, not because it makes more money or better products, but because it goes along with accepted conventions.
A good example of a successful green green philosophy implementation can be attributed to the Stadthalle Boutique Hotel from Vienna, which is the first 0% energy balance hotel in the world. The idea was to go ‘green’ right from the start, investing a considerable amount of financial and human resources into the idea of a ‘green building’. But as the owner of the hotel, Michaela Reiterer, has repeatedly emphasized, the initial investment has paid itself off a number of times by now, saving on operational and maintenance costs and doubling the number of employees. The fact of having a 0% energy balance contributes enormously to cost reductions, and thus increasing the revenue numbers, which shall satisfy the need of businesses for profits consolidation.
Another example that is representative of a lucrative endorsement of the ‘green concept’ ideology is the innovative thinking that stood behind the erection of Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers. The building is estimated to save 1,373 tons of CO2 on an annual basis and it received the ‘The Golden Nail’ award for the most innovative environmentally friendly structure.
The blank facades have integrated panels and Triple Lynx inverters that make the Crowne Plaza hotel the first energy efficient hotel in Denmark, which receives all of its energy through renewable and sustainable sources. High quality, social and environmental awareness were key elements in establishing the sustainable brand of the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers . It combines the largest facade integrated solar Photovoltaics (PV) installation in Denmark and frontline energy-efficient technology, cutting energy consumption by 53% compared to conventional hotels. Solar panels and a groundwater-based cooling and heating system helps the Crowne Plaza conserve precious resources (DAC – The Danish Architecture Centre).
“In terms of energy production and consumption the cooling- and heating system is very unique for the hotel. The water that is used for heating in the winter is recycled for cooling during the summer…” Sandeep Sander (President of Copenhagen Hotel Management A/S).
What made these two worthy of being deemed a perfect embodiment of environment and tourism sustainability is the establishment of a brand awareness that is being perceived as caring for the environment, while delivering the service the customers are expecting. A lesson to be learned by those who are eager to venture themselves into the unfamiliar field of eco-friendly businesses.
- Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) – The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics, 2013
- The Danish Architecture Centre (DAC) Web Portal