Guest Column by
Prof. Dr. Harald Zeiss
Department of Business Studies Professor of Tourism Management – Sustainable Tourism Management
Deputy Director of the Institute for Tourism Research (ITF)
Undergraduate Coordinator for International Tourism Studies (ITS)
Harz University of Applied Sciences
Frequently, hoteliers ask me how they can best communicate their achievements as a more sustainable hotel to their guests. No question, every hotel wants to show the efforts they have made to deliver guests a more sustainable hotel experience. Without doubt, much money has been spent on waste management, water saving measures and energy efficiency. However, the problem is: guests just don’t seem to care.
Have you experienced that your guests hardly ever enquire at the reception desk about your energy-efficient air conditioning and that only a few people are interested in the weekly eco-tour of the hotel? Then you are not alone and will probably wonder why on earth you have spent all that money on eco-friendly appliances and other investments.
Don’t get fooled! If you fall into the trap here and reduce your efforts for more sustainability in your hotel, you’ll be making a big mistake. The apparent lack of interest by your guests is not an expression of ignorance, but a sign of trust in your hotel brand.
Your guests definitely expect sustainability engagement from you, but don’t expect that they will constantly check. Like in other circumstances, they take it for granted. No one in the restaurant asks whether the fish is fresh. Or whether the bed linen has been changed since the last guest. That’s a given!
Studies show that guests place more emphasis on sustainability year by year. From the consumer point of view, if they separate garbage, use LED lamps and install low-flow water appliances at home, they’ll expect the very same in your hotel. No one will check this all the time, but once they realise that the hotel does not meet their eco-expectations, they’ll probably never come back.
Sustainability has now become an important part of a hotel’s quality promise. Hoteliers should communicate what efforts they have made for the environment and society, but one shouldn’t be surprised if guests are not more inquisitive. This is not ignorance, but shows the confidence your guests have in your achievements and your good name. So don’t disappoint them!