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We’re hardly out of the woods with COVID-19, and that means many properties will have to make do with a customer base mostly derived from local leisure, staycations and workcations from drive-to markets. With fewer overall guests, outside of cost savings efforts we must simultaneously look at maximizing the revenue per available guest (RevPAG), and there’s no better way to go about this than by sharpening your use of the PMS.

This is the last issue of Siegel Sez before this year’s CYBER HITEC event. HITEC is an event I have not missed in 30 years, and historically it has always been a great place to find innovation.

Toxicity Kills
Posted: 10/07/2020

It doesn’t matter if it is toxins in your physical environment or toxins in your mental environment. This stuff kills! 

It’s said that when someone’s mindset shifts, everything around them can change at the same time, and in our current setting, the importance of being in the right headspace, both personally and as an organization, can’t be discussed enough.

In my last installment, I introduced four areas of hospitality technology that I believe have been significantly changed by COVID-19. I covered contactless technologies in depth in that first article. This week I will turn to the other three areas: social distancing; health and sanitation; and communications.

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Green Leadership: Why Brands Can No Longer Ignore Corporate Social Responsibility

by Dr. Cheryl Lees

In order to be more competitive, many organizations have amped up their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts over the past decade, yet it’s no secret that the hospitality industry is still trying to find its way when it comes to going green. Major corporations now include reports of their sustainability efforts in conjunction with financial reports. As corporations continue to focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, many find that consumers are choosing their products over the competition in order to support their CSR efforts. The same concept holds true for consumer’s choice in hotels as many consumers are increasingly basing their accommodation decisions according to the hotel’s environmental sustainability initiatives commonly called “eco-friendly.”

Surprisingly, after recent travel to five hotels in a drought-ridden area over a one-week span, I couldn’t help but notice that only three of the five hotels actually posted obvious signs to participate in their sustainability efforts to conserve water and precious resources. Further, those with posted signage required attention to detail such that if guests didn’t take the time to follow directions on how to participate, their good intentions to conserve resources would have unintentionally fallen short. 
As guests are on vacation, many of them
are most likely paying attention to their
activities and meals outside of the hotel,
not on the “rules” of the hotel’s
sustainability program.

For instance, some detailed instructions on how to decline room service stated, “Leave this card on the bed in the morning” and “Hang this card on the door before 2 a.m.” These processes could have been easily overlooked by busy travelers. This poses the question of why sustainability efforts must be so difficult for the guests? As guests are on vacation, many of them are most likely paying attention to their activities and meals outside of the hotel, not on the “rules” of the hotel’s sustainability program. While other consumers, who actually choose sustainable hotels and assume these processes happen, are in turn expected to learn a new set of “rules” and behaviors during their stay instead of automatically being opted into the hotels’ program. The bottom line is as hotels take the time and resources to implement eco-friendly initiatives, any lack of participation from guests could rapidly derail their profit, including the time and cost of offering green services in the first place.

Hence, why don’t hotels adopt processes where sustainability efforts are the norm? An internal study at one major hotel chain found that participation in sustainability efforts decreased when guests were asked to participate under a set of rules. Conversely, efforts increased when guests did not have to follow specific procedures in order to participate, rather, guests were all opted into the sustainability program as the hotel routinely serviced rooms according to the hotel’s established eco-friendly practices. Doesn’t this just make sense?

Likewise, sustainability experts recommend that organizations incorporate their efforts into their strategic plan. Therefore, leaders must consider developing all policies, productions and operations to support such efforts, this includes starting with LEED certified buildings, if possible. Establishing clear initiatives that turn waste into profit will allow organizations to remain innovative and competitive while attracting their desired client base. In turn, fostering an eco-friendly culture through these efforts will produce many benefits including customer satisfaction, employee retention, branding power and stakeholder profits to name a few.
Additionally, experts advise leaders to support their CSR initiatives by focusing on their human capital, in other words, the employees who implement all green processes. This can be accomplished through consideration of talent acquisition, employee retention, and proper training to sufficiently implement and maintain green processes. Similarly, recent studies found that employees are increasingly attracted to organizations that focus on CSR and employee retention increases when employees feel that they are contributing to the bigger picture, especially when participating in social and environmental initiatives. Therefore, if organizations emphasize CSR from the recruitment phase, they could encourage participation and incorporate eco-friendly behaviors in employee’s reviews. This will ensure continuation of employees’ participation and support of ongoing initiatives while saving costs for the hotel.

In terms of developing the contents of their environmental sustainability program, leaders must research their demographics and fully understand what customers expect from them. For instance, if customers expect to be staying in an environmentally friendly atmosphere, then they should be opted into all processes upon check in to close the loop and allow the system to fully function. Hotels must consider including information for their guests on how they positively impact their community and note that it should be widely publicized.

While researching demographics, leaders must also envision the larger picture with a focus on international travelers. Societal narratives differ globally in terms of what consumers view as valuable, acceptable, and even just necessary. This, in turn, dictates the success rate of environmental sustainability efforts and why initiatives vary so widely around the globe.
Overall, CSR is required to compete in today’s business environment for customers and talent. However, the environmental sustainability program must be smart, efficient, and EASY in which to participate. Once leaders fully understand how CSR efforts and an eco-friendly culture could positively affect their organizations, they should take immediate steps towards converting waste to profit. In addition to reaping numerous benefits of implementing sustainability initiatives, businesses are sure make their competition “green” with envy!

About The Author
Dr. Cheryl Lees

Soluna Solutions Inc.

Dr. Cheryl Lees has a proven track record of organizational leadership and human resources development for more than 10 years for numerous industries amongst Fortune 500 companies. Her dissertation on “An Evaluation of an Environmental Sustainability Program in a Smart Meter Company” was awarded the Dr. Charles L. Faires Dissertation of Distinction Award. Cheryl believes that investing in employees through successful training and business programs leads to long term success.

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