PHUKET: Grace Kang is a managing partner at Greenview, a Singapore-based sustainability advisory company that specializes in tracking and measuring sustainability performance for hotels, convention centers and commercial buildings.
Ms Kang shared some pearls of wisdom on sustainable practices with local industry specialists at the recent American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) meeting at the Keemala Resort, Phuket.
During her talk on ‘Trends in Sustainable Hospitality’ Ms Kang discussed the impacts on hoteliers when implementing ‘green policies’.
One of the biggest issues, it seems, is the debilitating cost and time required to undertake long-term, cumbersome sustainability initiatives. The Gazette caught up with Ms Kang to discuss some zero-to-low-cost options to enable hotels to implement sustainability in their day-to-day operations.
Having a ‘green team’ is one of the most important things at any hotel recognized for sustainable practices, Ms Kang says.
A small team of volunteers can make up the green team and designate a ‘green champion’ – a go-to person who will help to coordinate efforts between employees and engage others in practicing sustainability.
The team should meet on a regular basis to discuss best practices and track progress on past initiatives. They may also be allocated a small budget for funding sustainability projects. Greenview research also suggests that employees who are proud of their organization’s corporate responsibility are more engaged, confident and likely to stay much longer with the company.
There are several easy and practical ways to preserve resources. One such initiative is having a designated employee making a nightly tour of the premises to ensure no unnecessary lights or thermostats are left on, and that all unused equipment is unplugged; as things left plugged into their sockets still use power.
The employee can also check for other issues such as water leaks on the premises. This doesn’t take much time or effort, nor does it add to the operational costs, but it does go a long way to developing good practices and conserving resources.
Eliminating the use of plastic water bottles in a hotel by replacing them with glass pitchers at conveniently-placed water filling stations is another simple yet effective change that has significant impact in reducing waste and costs.
Guest engagement has recently garnered more attention as more travellers make choices about where to stay based on the property’s environmental policies and practices.
A 2014 Nielsen survey suggested that about 64 per cent of Asia Pacific consumers who participated in the survey were willing to pay extra for services from companies committed to making a positive social and environmental impact.
Similarly, a 2015 Hotel News Now survey showed that even the choice of destination is impacted by the social and environmental conditions there.
With that in mind, there are some simple measures to make a little go a long way. For instance, making towel and linen changes optional can help conserve water and electricity. However, do avoid guilt tripping your guests with ominous messages such as ‘Save water because Mother Earth is dying’. Instead, companies would find it much more productive to offer real incentives, such as loyalty points or food and beverage vouchers in exchange.
These are just a few low-cost and hassle-free methods to get started on the right track. There are plenty of other ways to implement better sustainability practices, depending on commitment and investment capability.
— Sahar Aftab Paliwala
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