When looking at any industry, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the pace of technology is moving faster than ever before. Consumers have way more transparency when making buying decisions and with the right information at their fingertips at all times, the hospitality industry is not immune to the imperative of creating a quality consumer experience.
What’s more, while many may not like putting generations into buckets, it’s also hard to ignore the fact that millennials (those born roughly between 1982 and 1996), are going to be the largest generation in the country’s history (at 83.1 million). Simple math tells us that the buying power at large is mainly in their hands. So – hotels and many industries alike need to focus on what influences them to make purchase decisions.
According to Forbes, millennials consider social responsibility and environmental friendliness when making their purchases, so brands have to rise to these significant expectations millennials have when it comes to spending their money. “They typically choose to either follow their own instincts or go along with their peers but have become rather wary of financial advice given by parents and professionals in the field. They also prefer personal connections with those who manage their money, who reflect their highly held values of trust, authenticity, and choice,” according to the article.
That said, the hospitality industry is also one known for producing exorbitant amounts of waste. From the excess food that is thrown out each year, to the overuse of plastics, water and energy – there are many brands in hospitality that are taking the right steps to becoming more sustainable. After all, if they don’t get on the green bandwagon, they risk losing the largest generation of buyers in history. In order to make more green, here are some of the tactics within the headlines of late that are being used to keep up with the sustainable practices to woo this generation, and those others to come.
Tapping into Tech for More Sustainability
Thanks to technology, hotels have been making strides to becoming more environmentally friendly without breaking the bank. For example, more LED lighting throughout their facilities with sensors can help keep costs down while reducing energy waste.
Rhombus Systems recently announced its suite of new sensors, one of which can monitor the temperature and humidity of a space and issue alerts when certain environmental parameters are surpassed.
St. Regis Atlanta integrated green tech into its 10th anniversary redesign (a trend that keeps popping up in headlines), leveraging services from Mode:Green to take advantage of the opportunity and make it a smart building system. The guestrooms range from superior, grand deluxe, and specialty suites, and all transform with automation to welcome guests: Upon check-in, the staff remotely opens the shades, adjusts the temperature, and brightens the lights. An iPad on the bedside also gives guests control of their in-room system including a preset “away” mode which lowers the temperature for the day while guests are exploring the hotel.
InterContinental Hotels Group® (IHG®) announced a partnership with technology company Winnow to help its hotels automatically track, measure and reduce food waste for more sustainable and efficient restaurant and bar operations.
Through the use of an intelligent camera, smart scales and AI-based smart meter technology, Winnow Vision analyses ingredients during food preparation, as well as plates returned to the kitchen, to assess which food items are most wasted and in what quantities. This builds up a bank of data which in turn informs buying decisions, shapes menus and hones food preparation techniques.
In the case of the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel, a project with Quimera Energy Efficiency kicked off in 2016 and within a year 21% of electricity and 27.1% of gas consumption was saved. This translates in 500.000kg of CO2 emissions saved and was achieved using the methodology of Monitor & Save, including the Bopstem technology provided by Wisestate which is an IoT solution for HVAC control and automation, without suffering guest comfort.
Hyatt Hotels Corporation also recently announced a series of initiatives to reduce waste at Hyatt hotels globally, including introducing large-format bathroom amenities and reducing single-use water bottles by June 2021.
Cruises Also Taking a Stand with Tech
During Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Q2 2019 earnings conference call, CEO and Chairman Richard Fain attributed much of Royal Caribbean's success to its ability to adapt and innovate. As such, the cruise line is implementing technology to help reduce its ecological impact including clean LNG as fuel on its new ships, installing an Advanced Emission Purification system on most of its fleet, making progress with its program to eliminate single-use plastics, and is increasing its number of ships that are zero landfill capable. Fain also mentioned that it is ramping up efforts to reduce food waste, and continues to experiment with zero-emission fuel cells.
Another big announcement made by MSC Cruises shows its commitment to becoming the first major neutral cruise company in 2020. Starting on January 1, 2020, MSC Cruises will buy enough credits from companies that absorb carbon dioxide to offset all of the carbon emissions from its 17 ships throughout the year. MSC said that it is committed to reduce emissions as technology progresses with an ultimate target of zero emissions. The company intends to invest and work with shipyards and research institutes to achieve this goal.
While Carnival Corporation, which holds the tag as the world’s largest leisure travel company, is partnering with leaders from the maritime and engineering industries to pilot the world's first fuel cell system designed to power large passenger vessels.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Viking Ocean Cruises are also testing fuel cell technology with the end goal of emission-neutral cruising.
The technology group Wärtsilä also announced that it will supply and install an Auto Gasification solution for the ‘Regal Princess’, a Princess Cruises vessel. This technology will enable the safe disposal of waste from the ship through a self-fueling thermal decomposition unit, thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will also lessen the requirement to offload waste at shore facilities.
Hotels Continue to Innovate
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) trend survey released earlier this year, supporting sustainable initiatives remains important to the lodging industry as a whole.
As of 2018, 25% of domestic properties have received a Green Certification, the gold standard of sustainability. Linen and towel reuse programs are nearly universal among properties, and a majority of hotels across all segments have implemented a water savings program.
- Green Certification in 2018 stands at 25%, up from 16% in 2016
- Linen / towel reuse programs are nearly universal among affiliated hotels (range: 94%-99% across chain scales), with independent hotels (83%) not far behind
- About two-thirds of hotels within all chain scales report some type of water savings program
This tells us that hotels need to continue to innovate and the future of technology in hospitality has to be green, or those brands that do not adopt to these emerging standards face being left behind.