Hotels and Their Guests Are Going Green - With Big Data

Governments of the world are now working together in order to combat climate change. In recent years, the implementation of new government legislation and incentive schemes has resulted in many businesses striving for more eco-friendly practices. In the hospitality industry, hotels are going green at an increasing rate.

It’s an unfortunate fact, however, that it’s sometimes difficult to communicate the need for going green to get guest and stakeholder involvement in these initiatives. Luckily, a bit of knowledge can go a long way in this endeavour.

Trends Show That Hotels – And All Businesses – Must Go Green

Trends in every industry are showcasing the fact that businesses need to go green. Changes in the food industry, for example, have driven McDonald’s to switch to paper straws rather than plastic. Timberland has similarly led the fashion industry by creating clothes using recycled bottles. When it comes to the hospitality industry, two-thirds of those who need lodging prefer green hotels.

More than 90 percent of travellers believe that it’s a company's responsibility to help protect the environment.

Looking at the tourism industry, you’ll also see that 87% of travellers want to travel sustainably. A full 60% of tourists have reported taking a “sustainable” trip over the last three years. In fact, more than 90% of travellers believe that it’s a company’s responsibility to help protect the environment.

It’s important to note that it’s not only industry trends and corporate behaviour that’s showing the increased need for environmentalism.

Just take a look at what governments are doing worldwide:

  1. Costa Rica: Following federal initiatives, the country was able to run for nearly a full year on renewable energy.

  2. United States: The U.S. offers a variety of tax incentives for businesses that go green. This includes credits for electric vehicle use, reimbursement for bicycle commuting programs and the popular Business Energy Investment Tax Credit.

  3. Sweden: While many countries’ carbon tax is under $50 USD per tonne, Sweden has instituted a tax rate of $131 USD per tonne.

  4. European Union: The European Commission are implementing new policies and economic incentives to foster eco-entrepreneurship and promote eco-friendly practices in the business world within the EU.

  5. Singapore: In 2017, Singapore became the first Southeast Asian country to pass a carbon tax in its budget. The country also created the Green Mark Scheme to promote sustainability and incentivise businesses to adopt green solutions for their buildings.

Consumers may have been quicker to come around to environmentalism, but companies and governments are now also leading the charge.

Business Benefits of Going Green

Iberostar Hotels and Resorts is a star example of a green hotel business that conforms to all 17 of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Iberostar’s Playa Mita resort, taken from Green Globe.

Tax incentives are a great benefit for going green, but that’s not where the good news ends. There are countless other advantages to being environmentally friendly in the business world. Here are a few of the most important:

  1. Differentiates your brand from others in the industry.

  2. Facilitates reduction in water and energy bills.

  3. Attracts Millennial travellers – who outnumber most age groups and will make up 50% of tourists by 2020.

  4. Boosts employee morale through eco-friendly practices.

  5. Creates a critical marketing point for your hotel.

Global trends explain why hotels are going green at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, these trends sometimes aren’t enough to get stakeholders and guests involved in their sustainability efforts.

Challenges of Involving ALL Stakeholders

It’s a sad fact that, while everyone recognises the importance of environmentalism, not everyone responds in practice. Less than 10% of hotel guests, for instance, turn off the A/C when leaving their rooms. Oftentimes, they simply don’t see how their seemingly small contribution can help.

It can also be difficult to convince hotel owners and stakeholders that economic benefits invariably come with going green. Even if they’re eco-conscious, pushing environmental initiatives can be difficult if they think profits will suffer.

When it comes to getting buy-in for your hotel to go green, one of the common themes seen to deter guests (and) stakeholders is a lack of reviewable data.

These problems all come down to one word: communication.

When it comes to stakeholders, showing financial savings can sometimes mean using an external Energy Service Company (ESCO) to undergo the lengthy and complicated process of performing an energy audit. Stakeholders may also be hesitant due to the likelihood of high initial implementation costs of many green solutions.

As for the consumers, while it would be easy to assume that they just “don’t mean what they say” when it comes to going green, the truth is much more complex. They simply expect businesses to lead the way. There are five hurdles that get in the way of consumers evolving from “talking the talk” to “walking the walk.”

  1. Lack of awareness.
  2. Negative perceptions.
  3. Distrust.
  4. Concerns on price.
  5. Low availability.

When it comes to getting buy-in for your hotel to go green, one of the common themes seen to deter not only guests but also stakeholders is a lack of reviewable data. After all, it is crucial for them to be able to see what their buy-in and contributions can accomplish. While overcoming this communication hurdle can be difficult, it’s far from impossible with the right data.

Going Green with Big Data

Source: Green Lodging Trends Report 2017, showing that globally, 68% of hotels benchmark energy performance against peer properties in their company’s portfolio.

Big data is changing how everything is done. For those hoping to go green in the hospitality industry, this simple fact will put their sustainability goals well within reach. Overcoming the hurdles to stakeholder and guest involvement often boils down to whether you have actionable data and key insights on bigger trends in real-time energy consumption.

On (a larger) scale, aggregated data pulled from all eco-friendly hotels can provide new industry benchmarks for others to strive towards

When hotels invest in generating and using big data, they will be able to concretely measure and communicate the positive impact of sustainable initiatives to both guests and stakeholders. On an even larger scale, aggregated data pulled from all eco-friendly hotels can provide new industry benchmarks for others to strive towards.

As an example, take a look at a hotel that uses SensorFlow’s A/C solution.

Imagine a 100-room hotel trying to convince its guests and stakeholders about the benefits of automating the hotel room’s A/C. The hotel could easily accomplish this by sharing the following verifiable information, based on data collected by SensorFlow in real-time:

With smart automation in place, where the A/C is automatically turned off while guests are away, the hotel can:

  1. Save 8300 kWh/month or 99,600 kWh/year (up to 40% in energy savings)
  2. Offset CO2 emissions by 2.4 tonnes/month or 28.8 tonnes/year
  3. Save an equivalent of 31 trees/month or 372 trees/year

By communicating how occupancy-based automation helps the hotel be more energy-efficient and sustainable, can concretely show how guests are contributing to the environment by choosing this hotel. Similarly, other stakeholders will be hard-pressed to deny the energy, environmental and cost savings that will come with such solutions.

Eco-Friendly Hotels are the Future

Environmentalism is quickly becoming a necessity rather than an option in the global community. Consumers are demanding eco-friendly practices from the companies they do business with – and governments are encouraging this with local schemes and incentives. Luckily, hotels are going green and leading the charge in the hospitality industry.

With solutions like SensorFlow and new technologies emerging daily, it’s only a matter of time before hotels going green will encourage other businesses and consumers to also do their part.


Travel Agent Central

Eco-Friendly Tourism is Becoming a Movement

McDonald’s to Ditch Plastic Straws

Timberland Change

Travellers Want Green Hotels

Hotels are Using A/C All Wrong

Millennial Tourists

Green Lodging Trends