Ray Burger Why Go Green for Meetings

EcoRooms: Green Meetings = Big Opportunity

August 31, 2007

By Ray Burger

The Green Meeting Industry Council reports 67 percent of meeting professionals take environmental considerations into account when planning a conference.

In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist recently signed an executive order initiating new state energy-use policies, including requirements state agencies and departments to hold meetings and conferences only at hotels with Green Lodging certification starting Jan. 1, 2008.

Even this year’s Academy Awards went green, with the telecast designed to be carbon-neutral and environmentally friendly.

Now, it’s unlikely that a normal hotel is going to be hosting the Oscars, but I think the importance of providing an environmentally friendly meeting room is evident. Green meetings bring environmental benefits, cost savings, competitive advantages in the marketplace, improved image and positive guest experiences. And those hotels that do not put green practices into their meeting rooms and planning will miss out on significant business from the growing number of environmentally conscious guests, associations, businesses and government agencies.

Like we’re seeing with our green hotel partners at EcoRooms & EcoSuites (www.EcoRooms.com), providing green meeting opportunities is a way to increase revenue while cutting down on your costs.

Steps to savings include:
--Offering recycling programs – which is especially important for all those empty soda cans and water bottles leftover after meetings;
--Buying in bulk – which cuts down on the unit price, packaging and transportation costs;
--Saving energy – keep lighting and air conditioning off when meeting rooms are not in use
--Saving paper – for any meeting forms or printouts you do, use recycled paper. And be sure to print on both sides of the page.

If you don’t practice what you preach, the savvy green consumer will see through you, and hurt your credibility in this segment of the population that is ever-growing in size and importance.

EcoRooms: Proven Winners

August 29, 2007

By Ray Burger

As hotel managers discover the increased guest satisfaction and bottom-line savings that green practices can bring, green policies are being enacted everywhere from small, independent hotels to the largest national chains.

For proof, you don’t need to look any further than the Board of Advisors of EcoRooms & EcoSuites (www.EcoRooms.com). To them, being green is so much more than saving dollars. They truly believe in the cause, of changing the way we perceive our relationship with the Earth and the precious natural resources we have been given.

Natalie Marquis, General Manager of Habitat Suites Hotel in Austin, Texas:
“We began our 'greening' process in 1991 we've taken some 225-plus steps forward in advancing our commitment to ecological sustainability.

Our guests appreciate that we demonstrate the 'how to' of being green in ways they can emulate. 

We operate at about 8 to 10 percent higher occupancy than our competitors, and our repeat business accounts for about 85 percent of our clientele.  As an independent, we rely on word of mouth for our advertising, so our reputation with our guests is the best statistic of our ongoing success.

Since 1997, we have seen our operating costs drop by 13% There's no question in our minds that being green supports people, planet, and profit.

Stefan Muhle’s, General Manager of the Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco’s first LEED certified property:
“ One of the most difficult changes in going green for the housekeeping staff was replacing cleaning products with ones made of organic and natural ingredients. They told me, 'Stefan, we like the idea, but you really have to show us that if we take away the bleach and we substitute it that our tile will still be clean.' After a few months, they held up their hands and said they were no longer dry, they didn’t get teary eyes, and didn’t have any respiratory issues any more.

And going green makes even more sense, business-wise. The Orchard Hotel is saving 10 to 20 percent on its electricity bill by using a cardkey system, which keeps lights turned off when the room is not in use. businesses can save about 50 cents per square foot by cutting energy use by 30 percent.
Green is not a fad, not a gimmick. This is here to stay.

EcoRooms: Changing the World

August 27, 2007

By Ray Burger

Going green is more than a fad. It’s not going to become passé. Rather, the green movement is going to permanently change the way we all live our lives, from the products we use to the way we design buildings.

The hotel and hospitality industry has the opportunity to be at forefront of the green movement. We’ve already seen how the public has accepted some simple measures a hotel can take to reduce waste and preserve resources, such as reusing towels or installing high-performance showerheads and toilets to conserve water. It wasn’t too long ago when these things were unheard of, but now they are standard. In fact, the latest J.D. Power and Associates 2007 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study showed that, when they are aware of a hotel's environmentally friendly programs, 73 percent of guests participate.

it’s time for the hotel industry to take green to the next level and watch the world follow. At EcoRooms & EcoSuites (www.EcoRooms.com), we have outlined a rigorous set of seven criteria – we call it the “Significant 7” – that will “Raise the Bar” and establish consistency of ”Green” in the hospitality industry.

These criteria include creating well-defined recycling programs, energy efficient lighting and fixtures, use of refillable amenity dispensers to cut down on product waste and using only environmentally friendly cleaning products, among others. A comprehensive list is available at our Web site (http://www.ecorooms.com/criteria.html).

As guests become accustomed to the policies adopted by hotels during their stays, many will take green ideas and habits home. Meanwhile, more hotels are finding that implementing green practices actually saves them money, by reducing energy, water and cleaning costs. In short, going green is good for guests, good for hotel business and good for the Earth. And that’s exactly why this movement isn’t something that’s ever going to go out of style.

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