The hospitality industry is increasingly adopting green strategies as part of its corporate strategy. This need stems from the realization, among hotel owners, that they have a part to play in making the world more sustainable. Perhaps another key driver that is primarily responsible for this move is response to customer needs. Buyers, now more than ever before, are aware of man’s impact on the planet.
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Therefore, most of them want to purchase products or services that are eco-friendly. Hotel owners are thus meeting a need in the market by attuning their services to the tastes of eco-conscious buyers (Weaver & Lawton 1170).
Investment in eco-hotels is a worthwhile endeavor because a vast market exists for the service. Consumers are willing to play their part in global sustainability. However, the degree to which they are willing to do it depends on their income bracket as well as the part of the world where they come from. Economic recoveries in a series of European and developed nations have caused more consumers to exercise caution in their expenditure.
However, this has not dampened the spirits of high income earners. Luxury hotel consumers are some of the keenest consumers on green initiatives. Surveys conducted by Market Metrix in 2008/9 indicate that 20% of these guests believe that eco-friendliness is a high-priority issue.
However, only 9% of the low income market felt that green strategies are critical factors in hotel choice. This proposal will this be catering to a group of buyers who can afford the service (Grigoras 18).
Price is a leading barrier to the use of eco-friendly hotels. Many clients are willing to use such services only if the facilities do not place additional pressure on their budgets. A number of hotels have made eco-initiatives that do not add extra costs in the final product. As a consequence, buyers use eco-hotels if they cost just as much as typical ones.
Therefore, the eco-hotel has an extra advantage over its conventional counterparts because it has something extra to offer is clients. The above surveys were carried out when the global recession had just occurred. Economic recovery is happening and this implies that more people will be targeting eco-hotels,
Proof of a market for eco-hotels exists in other sectors. The philosophy of sustainable purchasing is prevalent in retail stores, company brands, product packing, employee choices and other aspects of consumer purchasing. Commitment to the environment usually runs deep, and those who hold such values place high demands on the sellers who supply their personal products.
As a result, these individuals expect companies to take care of environmental issues in service provision. Buyers now wait for hotels to demonstrate this commitment to sustainability in their guest experiences before they choose it.
Some countries like the UK and US are critical source markets for eco-hotels. In their households, most UK consumers buy 251 pounds worth of green items and this translates in 6 billion pounds worth of products. In the US, households bought 260 million energy saving light bulbs in 2012.
Therefore, these buyers are committed to the philosophy of eco-friendliness. If they travel around the world, they are more likely to respond positively to hotels that mirror their personal expenditures (Wall 111).
Brand loyalties are going down in the global hotel industry. Most individuals are moving beyond the self-appraising efforts of hotels and looking at the true value of their hotels. This means that ethical values and other related endeavors are what customers really focus on.
Even minor alterations such as purchasing locally-grown food in the hotel can make substantial differences. Travelers appreciate the fact that it is not easy to be eco-friendly, so many of them are willing to pay a premium for it.
Competition in eco-hotel sector
Numerous hotels have realized the importance of eco-friendliness and have opted to meet this sustainability need among consumers. As a result, hotel ratings agencies now differentiate between hotels that are environmentally friendly, and those that are not through certain mechanisms. For instance, an organization called Best Western rates global hotels.
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It now denotes those who comply with green standards using a green leaf as an icon. Other ratings systems are ecologically oriented. Green key is an independent ranking organization that has worked with hospitality industry entities to boost their green credibility. Several Luxury hotels like MGM Resorts and Carlson Hotel have worked with this independent group to increase their green marketability.
Another independent sustainability rater is Green Seal, which has worked with Kimpton and Great Wolf Resorts (Orams 9). Therefore large hotels are going out of their way to market themselves as eco hotels; this is a sign that competition is high.
In the European continent, hotels have created the EU Ecolabel. This a certification program for services and products available in the European Union. Its presence indicates adherence to environmental management standards. Hotel stakeholders in the European Union have been applying for the label for the past 11 years. Some of them are small farmhouse accommodation facilities while others are large chains.
They all use renewable sources of energy. Furthermore, they have waste reduction strategies, environmental policies, water use reduction measures and non smoking areas. Examples of the firms that have achieved this certification include Hotel Alantico in Portugal and Sunwing Resort in Greece.
Several global brands are using the green strategy in huge proportions. One such organization is Marriot, which has a conglomerate of about 300 hotels worldwide. The hotel has established LEED certification for some of its hotel buildings. Here the hotels abide by strict sustainability standards.
It plans on doing the same for the rest of its branches by 2015. Other relatively smaller hotel chains have also embraced the strategy and are located in different parts of the world. For instance, Six senses is a hotel in Con Dao Vietnam. It is committed to environmental sustainability by purchasing building materials from sustainable sources. The hotel also changes its ventilation system in order to accommodate them.
Hotel Tierra in Chile is yet another hotel that relies on local labor for all its furnishings. The building’s walls are made of wood so as to control internal temperature without using artificial heaters. In Puerto Rico, the country has a hotel called Hix island, which uses solar to power the facility.
Additionally, it collects rain waters and also tackles grey water. Kenya has a hotel known as Campi ya Kanzi. It is solar-powered, and all the parts of the building came from naturally-fallen trees (Petronzio 26).
Options vary on how a hotel can choose to execute its eco strategy. Some competitors prefer to focus mostly on operational aspects while others take a more holistic approach. The building as well as the materials used to furnish the hotel may become the preferred option. Even interactions with locals can become part of one’s strategy. The more holistic a hotel is, the more marketable it becomes to eco-travelers.
Statistics indicate that although several ecohotels exist, it is mostly the large hotel chains that appear to dominate this industry (Grigoras 3). Scientists explain that their propensity to go for eco-strategies stems from their economies of scale. Many large hotels buy supplies in bulk. Furthermore, some of the cost savings that stem from energy preservation or water conservation are better-felt by large hotel chains.
This advantage means that they are more likely to stick to the strategy, and this will lead to better marketing of the same. When an organization can boast of greater use of eco friendly products, it is likely that it will impress more eco-conscious travelers than those that only use green strategies to a smaller degree.
Large hotel chains may be the dominating party in the eco-hotel industry. However, not all consumers are interested in large chains. Environmental travelers want family-friendly and cozy atmospheres that do not replicate images of large-scale hotel chains. They prize facilities that are as close to the environment as possible.
Therefore, if an independent hotel can commit to environmental principles, but still stay small and comfortable, then it will provide added advantages to buyers. This combination of qualities will make an impact in the eco-hotel industry. The marketing plan will fulfill the gap in the competitive landscape. It will be a refreshing alternative to the modern hotel designs that have crowded the hotel industry.
Travelers want intimate locations that are as close to nature as possible. Therefore, these qualities will make the proposal a tangible solution to the current environment.
Grigoras, Oana. Chain hotels go green easier than independent competitors. 2013. Web.
Orams, Mark. Types of Ecotourism. Wallingford: CABI Publishing, 2001. Print.
Petronzio, Matt. 30 gorgeous eco-friendly hotels. 2013. Web.
Wall, Geofrey. “Ecotourism: Change, impacts and opportunities.” Bulletin 5(2007): 108 -118. Print.
Weaver, David and Laura Lawton. “Twenty years on: the state of contemporary ecotourism research.” Tourism Management 28(2007): 1168–1179. Print.