Sertifi Says: Paper Contracts Hinder Hotels 'Green' Efforts, Revenues

  • Sertifi
  • 08.25.11
You would be hard-pressed today to find a hotel that does not claim to be “Environmentally Friendly” to some extent, whether they have direct water and energy conservation programs or simply participate in a recycling program, donate to charity or hire locally.

Offering towel and sheet-changing options, soap and shampoo dispensers instead of plastic bottles, guestroom recycling baskets and programs to reduce food-related waste is great. But those hotels that are still relying on paper processes for contract signing, whether it’s for group business, supplier transactions or human resources processing, are significantly hindering their sustainability efforts and bottom-line revenues.

Enter Sertifi. For years, leading corporations and Fortune 500 companies have been using the eSignature platform from Sertifi to get contracts and other agreements signed faster, close more business, and reduce costs. Today, hotels, resorts and suppliers to lodging operators can reap the same rewards by entirely replacing the paper process of obtaining signatures — sending, printing, signing and faxing — with Sertifi. By providing an expeditious, low-cost electronic signature method, Sertifi is making it easy for hotels of all sizes to streamline operations and accelerate revenue with visibility and control.

Equally as important, especially to the hundreds of thousands of travelers who prefer to do business with a “green” hotel, is the immediate environmental impact that Sertifi provides.

“Users of the Sertifi eSignature solution consider its green benefits to be equally as valuable as its bottom line savings in materials and labor,” said John Stojka, Sertifi president. “Thousands of hotels today are members of some sort of Green Hotel association or are listed in one of many Green Hotel databases growing in popularity among travelers. Sertifi enables lodging operators to legitimately become a sustainable operation by moving contracts from a paper to digital format.

“By taking this extremely simple and affordable step, hotels are not only reducing paper costs, but reducing their carbon footprint and adding to their growing lists of enviable sustainability programs,” he said. “Think about the impression being made on customers when submitting a paper contract to a group staying at your hotel based on its ‘Green’ criteria alone. It’s the old ‘one step forward, two steps back’ approach to doing business. Hoteliers can promote sustainability all they want and install state-of-the-art energy and water conservation equipment, but if the fundamental principles of sustainability aren’t applied, credibility can be lost.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency: The average American uses about the equivalent of one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products each year; The average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year -- that’s four million tons of copy paper used annually; Office workers in the U.S. generate approximately two pounds of paper and paperboard products every day; In 2008, paper and paperboard made up 31 percent of municipal waste. Plastics were 12 percent.

"Knowing that 43 million U.S. travelers are 'ecologically concerned' (according to statistics released by the U. S. Travel Data Center), hoteliers should be doing everything possible to attract this demographic," Stojka said. "These consumers, whether traveling for business or leisure, are especially interested in staying at a hotel that puts the environment first.  In fact, Green Lodging News reported that by 2011 approximately 4,271 hotels have earned some  type of "green certification." Unfortunately, of those 4,200+ hotels, few use digital contracts."

Sertifi is Web-based and delivered on demand.  With Sertifi, there’s nothing to learn or install. No IT department is required. Sales executives or property managers simply fills out a basic webmail form with the name of the person needing to e-sign with an electronic signature. Attach the agreement from your hard disk or network drive. If necessary, initial fields, signature fields or input text fields can quickly be added on the document. Then hit “Send.”

The signers will then be notified of an agreement that they need to sign through email where they can then review the agreement. Upon review, signers can choose to electronically sign the document or, for those fax-loyal followers, print, sign, and fax into Sertifi's automated fax scanner. Signed agreements are then tracked and stored for easy retrieval. 

"The eSignature platform from Sertifi not only reduces the amount of paper a company produces but it eliminates the need to physically route documents over long distances," said Doug Rae, Sertifi director of sales. "Sending out contracts for review and signing not only costs companies thousands of dollars in delivery fees, but they often do not yield results because the customer fails to return them. Besides causing delays and compromising customer satisfaction, this practice is a waste of company and natural resources."

The ground freight industry alone produces more than 385 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. By 2012, that number is expected to climb by 25 percent (according to SmartWay Transport Partnership Facts & Figures - Office of Transportation & Air Quality). Overnight delivery of business documents represents a substantial part of this impact, and it is easily avoided with the eSignature platform from Sertifi.

"Our country's landfills are another issue," Rae said. "The most significant contributor to landfill is paper. Anyone remotely conscious of the environment can immediately see the value of migrating from paper contracts to a digital platform. And, with the influx of mobile device technology today, empowering your customers with tools to sign-on-the-go via a smartphone, tablet computer or other handheld device will be greatly appreciated -- especially by  the instant-gratification, technology-dependent Generation Yers and Generation Xers of the world.

"But regardless who the users are, the bottom line is that eSignatures from Sertifi result in quicker transactions and with far less negative impact to the environment," he said. "What more motivation does a hotel need to make the move?"

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