Beyond Green: Redefining Sustainable Hotel Practices

In the realm of hospitality, the term “green” has been thrown around like confetti at a wedding for ages, but where do we stand in 2024? While we’re all familiar with the basic ‘save the planet, reuse your towels’ routine, it’s evident that it’s time to do more. 

Today, green hospitality must trade in token gestures for a sophisticated approach to sustainability that permeates every facet of hotel operations. It’s about engaging with the community, implementing innovative waste reduction strategies, and training staff to champion eco-conscious practices. As guests become more concerned about their environmental impact, hotels must step up to meet their expectations. 

Let’s delve into how you can start incorporating a greener mindset and making sustainable choices for your hotel today.

What does “Green” mean for hotels in 2024? 

If the idea of implementing additional eco-initiatives at your hotel seems daunting, take heart in the fact that going green can be simple when viewed as an operational approach. It’s not about doing more or less; it’s about adopting a mindset of sustainability that not only reduces waste but also cuts expenses. Considering sustainability in its broader context means not only benefiting the planet but also ensuring the holistic sustainability of your hotel, including managing operating costs to promote long-term viability and growth. 

1. Go Local

By actively promoting and facilitating local travel experiences, hotels can both support sustainability goals and enhance their own profitability by attracting eco-conscious travelers and fostering positive relationships within the community. There is no shortage of strategies to bring this to life at your hotel:

Appeal to locals: While the days of jet-setting to far-flung destinations are far from over, hotels are encouraging staycations instead. This trend has taken off in recent years as a great way to get away without really going anywhere. Appealing to locals is another revenue stream hotels should be tapping into while promoting the reality that local travel minimizes your guests’ carbon footprint. 

Local partnerships:  Curate local experiences that showcase the best your community has to offer. Build partnerships with local businesses and attractions to offer exclusive deals and packages that highlight the unique experiences available in the area. This not only promotes local tourism but supports the local economy while also raising your hotel’s profile.

Eco-friendly transportation: Additionally, hotels can organize eco-friendly transportation options, such as bike rentals or shuttle services, to encourage guests to explore the area without relying on personal vehicles, thereby reducing carbon emissions. 

An electric car recharges at a hotel EV charging station.
EV charging stations are convenient for guests traveling with their own eco-friendly vehicles.

Locally sourced food and services: Gone are the days of mystery meat shipped from halfway across the world. Hotels should commit to sourcing ingredients locally, guaranteeing a dining experience that’s not only delicious but environmentally friendly. Highlighting regional cuisine is a major draw for guests; those visiting your area crave an authentic taste of the region. And for locals, it’s an opportunity to rediscover and develop a newfound appreciation for their own surroundings. 

Pro tip: Think plant-based! A growing number of people are skipping meat for health, moral, and environmental reasons, thanks to an expanding awareness of the benefits of a plant-based diet as outlined in shows like Netflix’s You Are What You Eat. So consider adding more animal-free dishes to your menu. You’ll gain a wider appeal and do the environment a solid at the same time. 

Host community events: Engage with the community by hosting events or workshops that showcase local culture, traditions, and sustainability efforts. Again, you’ll reduce the overall carbon footprint of your hotel by appealing to locals, but you’ll also build loyalty to your hotel within your community.

2. Energy Efficiency

Your hotel probably already implements basic energy efficiency strategies, including asking guests to reuse towels, installing motion-activated lighting and thermostats, and switching to LED bulbs. These simple practices are easy to adopt and come with big savings to your operational costs. But when we talk about the future of sustainability, there’s so much more to consider:

Implement smart heating and cooling systems: Programmable thermostats and HVAC systems can be set to optimize energy usage based on occupancy and outside temperatures.

Optimize laundry practices: Using energy-efficient washing machines, implementing water-saving techniques, and consolidating loads can reduce energy and water consumption.

Conduct regular energy audits: Periodic assessments can identify areas for improvement and track progress toward energy efficiency goals.

Choose a green PMS: WebRezPro is your green cloud-based hotel property management system, eliminating the need for energy-intensive in-house servers and digitizing data and communications to reduce paper and printing requirements, for example, the mobile housekeeping app and self check-in. 

Leverage technology to become more environmentally friendly while staying ahead of the curve with current and emerging innovations. Implementing contactless online check-ins and keyless room access (mobile keys), for example, not only reduces paper waste and the need for plastic key cards but also enhances convenience for guests, demonstrating your commitment to sustainability and the guest experience.

Moreover, while sustainability often focuses on environmental resources, it’s crucial to recognize the value of human resources. WebRezPro prioritizes employee well-being by streamlining operations and simplifying workflows.

A smiling front desk clerk uses a mobile property management system on a tablet device.
Cloud-based hotel technology is greener.

Sustainable web design: Green isn’t just about what happens inside the hotel; it starts the moment a guest hits the booking button. Hotels are getting serious about their digital footprint with sustainable web design. From energy-efficient servers to minimalist interfaces, they’re proving that even pixels can be eco-friendly.

3. Green Services and Amenities

Slip on those green-tinted glasses and look around your hotel to see what can become more sustainable. 

Lobby shop: Elevate your hotel’s offerings with a sustainable touch that speaks volumes about your commitment to both the environment and guest satisfaction. Swap out conventional plastic toothbrushes and combs for eco-friendly bamboo alternatives, and opt for packaging crafted from recyclable materials and printed with soy-based ink. Additionally, consider stocking shower caps and menstrual products made from biodegradable, plant-based plastics. These conscientious choices underscore a commitment to providing guests with high-quality and environmentally responsible amenities.

Health-centric packages and services: Green isn’t just about the planet; it’s about personal well-being too. Embrace this ethos by curating health-centric hotel packages tailored to the mindful traveler. From rejuvenating yoga retreats to nourishing organic spa treatments and wellness-focused activities, prioritize experiences that promote both personal and environmental wellness. 

As the sustainability movement evolves to encompass a more holistic approach, consider integrating the personal benefits of an ecological lifestyle, whether through a plant-based diet, the use of organic products, or engaging with the great outdoors. Explore how your hotel can align with these principles to appeal to health-conscious travelers.

Green is the New Black

As we embark on the journey towards a more sustainable hospitality industry, it’s evident that hotels are moving beyond mere lip service and truly redefining the concept of being green in 2024. With guests increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, hotels are compelled to elevate their efforts to meet these evolving expectations. This shift isn’t solely for the planet’s benefit; it’s also essential for hotels to ensure their own longevity in a rapidly changing industry. Embracing a comprehensive green hospitality strategy isn’t just an ethical decision; it’s a strategic imperative that positions hotels for success in the modern marketplace.