The green revolution is now firmly upon us. While we’re seeing this play out on the global scale with healthy economic incentives for companies directly engaged in renewable energies and shifting away from fossil fuels, ultimately, every organization will be compelled to do its part in achieving carbon neutrality — and that includes hotels.

For the decade ahead, therefore, properties that gain a first-mover advantage by embracing climate-change initiatives will realize significant cost savings and increased brand recognition. Let’s look at how green trends can help you take the first step towards broader action.

Instead of discussing the reduction of carbon emissions in abstract terms, let’s use a recent example to demonstrate how piggybacking off trends can help you shape the future of a property. This past January 2021 marked a sizeable year-over-year increase in the awareness for what’s known as Veganuary — a portmanteau attempting to heighten the prevalence for a plant-based diet by suggesting people go vegan for a whole month. In this case, hotels could create a menu celebrating Veganuary with two long-term objectives. First, knowing that January 2021 wasn’t the greatest for occupancy, any projects undertaken could be tweaked and re-deployed for subsequent years, helping make this an ‘evergreen’ event, especially as the demand for plant-based cuisine becomes more prevalent. Next, there may come a point in the near future where guests insist on having purely vegan dining options at their hotels, necessitating making these menus a permanent fixture.

For this latter ‘sink-or-swim’ scenario, it behooves you to be an early adopter lest you be passed over by the next generation of travellers, which is exceedingly sensitive to all matters of ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance). Right now, embracing the green revolution can be interpreted as a largely BOH method of reducing energy combustion through the installation of more efficient and smart machinery. But as explained through the catchy adage, “Going green to be seen,” there’s also still a worthwhile marketing angle for any sustainability upgrades you make.

Using the previous example, advertising Veganuary to your target markets and developing a plant-based menu will amount to far less carbon-emission reductions when compared to such projects as re-configuring the guestrooms with smart thermostats or setting up IoT-enabled water-re-circulation systems. But, unlike the real BOH savers, this trend is guest-facing. It will give your brand cachet amongst a populace that wants more environmentally friendly travel accommodations.

Now is the time where any green endeavor can be used to generate further appeal for a hotel — before this embrace becomes commonplace and your efforts are no longer buzzworthy. This doesn’t have to only be in the restaurant, but maybe you investigate having all your spa products sourced from local, sustainable suppliers. Or, if you have a golf course, you look to replace your entire fleet of carts with electric vehicles. Even building a few EV re-charging stations in your parking lot can give you social-marketing credit in 2021.

Take heed — this marketing window is rapidly narrowing as green initiatives move in our collective subconscious from value-add to expectation. When it comes to fighting global warming and preventing ecological collapse,this isn’t an area where you should wait to be a laggard because it may forever besmirch your brand as one that doesn’t care about the environment.

Guests are more forgiving now, but to future-proof your organization you must take action in the year ahead and develop a vision for your brand that puts matters of climate change near the top of the list. For this, looking at some of the emerging trends, however fickle, will help you to grow the right culture and reputation among guests so that you are primed for success.

Together, Larry and Adam Mogelonsky are partners of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com or Adam at adam@hotelmogel.com

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