Unfortunately, we have all grown to learn that simply caring does not ensure any kind of repayment. However, the hotel industry has always been the exception to the rule. Hospitality is one of the few industry’s where the history of the entire revenue stream is based off of how much organizations care. These days with climate change and the energy crisis, hotels are given a new opportunity to expand to a different market by adapting to the needs of the environment.
Naturally, people enjoy doing the right thing. Of course this is a generality but this is a law that regulates many aspects of our society.Clearly there is an incentive to accommodate guests in an eco-friendly hotel; the only question is what makes a hotel eco-friendly? Super 8 Ukiah completed an audit of the complete property’s compliance of over 70 eco-initiatives and finished the audit with having 32. Super 8 Ukiah conducts efficient waste disposal, water saving strategies, recycling throughout the property, purchasing habits, and many designated eco-initiatives. This is why there is a growing market for the 11 dollar salads and the not-so-cool looking hybrid cars. People who make green improvements on their home typically do not even go on to sell them. What does all of this mean? That there is an inner-satisfaction individuals feel by doing what society would say to be right. This means that if marketed the correct way, green hotels can sweep the market because the public is already naturally attracted to the service.
Green labeling began as part of the “green” revolution in marketing with non-food products. Labels on products with “green” claims like “environmentally friendly,” “nontoxic,” “energy efficient,” “recycled content,” and “recyclable” began appearing on the store shelves in the 80s. Then food items started using green labels to increase their market share. Manufacturers had determined consumers wanted to buy products that wouldn’t harm the environment, so they found ways to cater to that need by using eco-labeling. The manufacturers’ green claims were often made by merely placing an emblem that looked like a seal of approval on the product. That emblem symbolized the product’s environmental qualifications in one or more ways. However, it didn’t offer any details about what those environmental qualifications were.
The trend became so popular that often a product’s label would change but nothing about the product actually changed. For example, paper product manufacturers started talking about how much recycled content their products contained to show how environmentally sensitive they were. But in fact, wood and paper scraps have always been part of paper making, so there really was nothing new about their manufacturing, only their marketing and labeling were different. Subsequently, paper-product labeling changed to show the paper products’ post-consumer content so consumers had a better idea of what they were buying; paper products still use that information on their labels.
By 1990, about 11% of all new grocery products marketed themselves as having a “green” connection. A recent survey showed that 55% of the surveyed consumers look for products that claimed some amount of environmental sensitivity. Eco-labeling and consumerism aren’t a passing trend; it’s a way of life and one way the public can be environmentally active. Consumer awareness of the potential environmental and health impacts of products has increased, especially in the last decade. Green consumerism has grown in Europe, Australia, North America, as well as in some Asian and Latin American countries. Green consumerism is here to stay, as is green labeling.
The rapid proliferation of eco-labeled products serving as marketing tools has led different countries’ governments, together with representatives of consumer groups and industry, to develop programs to standardize eco- or green-labeling. Manufacturers are encouraged by market trends to eco-label their products to avoid losing their market share.Though too few hotels participate in green certification programs, and even fewer use an eco-label, there are some who are making the same mistakes the early adopters of green labels made; the mistake is using a misleading green criteria. There are “green hotels” that promote towel/sheet re-use programs, but when guests request their towels and sheets not be changed, housekeeping ignores the request and changes the towels and sheets anyway. There are hotels that are Green Seal certificed that claim no use of Styrofoam in their certification application, but use it anyway. That is the same sort of “green washing” we saw in the 80s. That’s the sort of green labeling the public is objecting to.
Some countries are using one approach that is to require manufacturers to apply for the right to use a green label. By doing so they certify their products meet certain standards established by their government. This approach serves to maintain truth in advertising and reduce the “caveat emptor” mentality that has surrounded green labeling for years. It doesn’t get rid of the problem of green labels having different meanings, partially because each country is developing its own eco-label criteria, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a step toward accuracy, honesty, and maybe toward international standardization.
Another result of eco-label marketing is the creation of organizations that evaluate labels for meaningfulness as well as several other criteria we use to assess what makes a good green label. Consumers Union’s website called Eco-Labels is one such group. The site covers eco-labels on food, household cleaners, personal-care products, and wood. Further, they evaluate labels’ claims broadly to include worker welfare and animal welfare in addition to environmentally sustainable labels. Consumers Union is also developing a site called Greener Choices that will help consumers evaluate larger product purchases, environmental issues, and environmental actions they can take. The evaluated products presently include autos, home and garden devices appliances, and electronics. Issues they’ll help evaluate include household energy, climate, waste, and toxins.
Even those who wouldn’t go as far as knocking there home down to rebuild a LEED certified house have plenty of potential to pay for a stay in a green hotel, because it is temporary and a new experience. In today’s hotel industry, most are still regularly built, which means that green hotels are still seen as highly unique and stand out. This also caters to the market of consumers who only want to try new services. Similar to the concept that even a poorly made movie can make a profit by strategically marketing just to fill the box office, eco-friendly hotels will gain a fair amount of business from travelers who simply like the idea of trying out or telling others that they have stayed in a green hotel.
Other practices that were released by our property manager were programmable timers and occupational sensors for light systems, salt water pools, use of old news papers for cleaning, double panned Low E windows, employee carpooling, proper disposer of fluorescent light bulbs, and further precautions to assure energy efficiency. Super 8 Ukiah has been awarded a 3 Green Eco-Leaf rating. Our property not only does what we can to care about our guests, but we make various measures that portray our care for our community and environment.