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Giving Back for Being Greener

May 21, 2010

Ulaa, Patagonia, Chile

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (that’s the hotel group that includes Sheraton, Westin, LeMeridien, and W Hotels, among other brands) recently began its “Make a Green Choice” program, which rewards its guests for requesting eco options such as skipping the daily housekeeping.  Each guest that chooses this option is rewarded 500 reward points or a $5 credit at the hotel’s restaurant.

Surprisingly, their corporate website (link above) does not mention this new program, but the Green Travel Hub blog reported it, as well as Newsweek, and a Wall Street Journal article reports that 8.5% of Starwood guests take advantage of it.

While guests choosing an eco hotel or greener options during their stay (such as forfeiting daily housekeeping) are most likely looking to help save our planet, and aren’t looking for personal rewards, this is a great initiative that will save your hotel money, help save the planet by limiting resources such as cleaning materials and water used for cleaning, and help guests feel a little more responsible ecologically. Everyone wins, most importantly planet Earth.

After all, most people don’t have daily housekeeping at home. And if they do, let’s be honest here: they probably don’t need it.

I think it’s important to be generous with a program like this. Guests are making a sacrifice on standard hotel services, and this saves your hotel money. If you don’t already know how much providing daily room service costs per room at your hotel, do the math. Consider giving back 50% of that in hotel service or reward points. Guests are being generous, and  hotels should do the same.

Cards could be printed up for guests to hang on the door when they choose to forego cleaning for that day. Housekeeping staff should report this to Rooms Division, who can then arrange for the credit/points to be included in the guest’s account. Credit should be given for each day that the guest foregoes housekeeping, not per stay. The hotel is saving money for each day that the room is not cleaned, and the guest should be compensated in the same manner.

What other services does your hotel offer that guests could forego in an attempt to be more eco? Take some time to brainstorm, either alone or with your sustainability group, and come up with additional ideas.

  • Does your hotel offer a private shuttle system for guests from the airport to your hotel? Could guests opt for a group shuttle or public transportation such as a bus or train instead (thus saving fuel by traveling with other passengers in a group)? They should be rewarded for this.
  • What about recycling? This doesn’t save your hotel money, but it’s a great initiative on the guest’s part. Consider giving guests a small credit or amount of points for each bottle turned in for recycling at the front desk, or even free internet access, which the hotel is already paying for, anyway.
  • Or reward them for using a refillable stainless steel bottle such as a Klean Kanteen. (Or sell Klean Kanteens in your gift shop for guests who don’t have one, and reward them for their purchase.)
  • Guests that show up with a rented hybrid car (or one of their own) could be given free parking if the hotel typically charges for parking.
  • Guests that choose to forego the daily newspaper service (if your hotel provides it) could be given a free hour of internet access to read the news online rather than on paper.
  • If you’ve got a smaller hotel that’s highly eco-oriented and has its own organic vegetable garden or sustainable farm, consider giving guests credit/points for helping out in the garden or on the farm. This will also provide valuable interaction between guests and local workers.

I absolutely love the idea of providing points to be used toward a future stay (points could be linked to your existing reward program) or credit toward services at the hotel (I’m thinking restaurant, bar, and spa services). What other ways can you think of to reward your guests?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 13:40

    Thanks for the mention! We really hope that more hotels going green will offer incentives for their guests to act more green during their stay, because we feel that the guest should be rewarded for their green practices!

  2. May 25, 2010 18:35

    Like I said, this is a win-win-win situation, so hopefully it will catch on fast! Thanks for your comment.

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