Charging into the future

It’s simple supply-and-demand economics: as the number of electric vehicles on the road increases, so does the number of EV drivers looking for their next charge. And hotels are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunities this scenario presents.

“Being an EV driver myself, I can say that although you can put EV charging at many locations, the one major place that you want to have it is wherever you’re going to lay your head down for the night,” said Dennis Carter, director of sales for EV charging, LG Electronics.

For many people that’s their homes, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 80 percent of EV charging takes place at home. But for people who travel regularly, a hotel often represents the most convenient option for EV drivers. 

Carter noted that there are a number of practical considerations when it comes to installing EV chargers on a property. The first is to have the property assessed by someone with knowledge of local codes and requirements. 

“Evaluate the property’s existing electrical system and its current capacity, and calculate the anticipated energy loads that the charging stations might impose,” Carter advised. 

Next, identify where on the property where to site the charging stations. You want to put the EV chargers in a spot that’s convenient for EV drivers, while also taking into account the actual construction costs of the location.

Schedule time with your utility company and review your plans and the scope of the project with them. “Ask your utility company about any incentives that might be available,” Carter said. “There are many city, federal and utility incentives out there for customers and business owners.” Those incentives might be for the charger only, or they might also include construction and make-ready costs, so it’s important to ask about them. 

And don’t hesitate to charge for the electricity. “Charging should be there as an amenity for guests, but I don’t think it’s something that hotels should provide for free,” Carter said.

Like Booking a Spa Treatment

Liam Tully, associate at hotel asset management firm hotelAVE, agrees that EV charging should be offered as an amenity, but not a free one. 

“There are multitude of ways that you could potentially charge for it,” Tully told Hotel Management. “The two most common are either by time spent charging or by energy usage. In my opinion, booking by time—for example, 60-minute intervals—makes a lot of sense. I believe that booking EVs time-wise could be treated just like a spa treatment.”

Tully said  EV charging is increasingly becoming a part of brand affiliation. He noted that Marriott last year announced a major purchasing agreement with EV Connect to provide chargers for its properties, and Hilton announced last September that they will install up to 20,000 Tesla Universal Wall Connectors at 2,000 hotels in North America. 

“I'm not entirely sure if EV chargers will become standard across all hotel brands and all hotels, but I don’t think hotel chains want the individual hotel operations teams to become experts in EV charger procurement and EV charger maintenance,” Tully said. “So if you're going to be introducing and scaling EV chargers as a brand, I would hope that you have a select few EV charger providers and a select few EV maintenance companies under contract.” 

The Outsourcing Option

Hoteliers who want to offer EV charging also have the option of outsourcing. EVPassport offers a turnkey EV charging infrastructure service platform to clients in 35 states and three countries. 

“We provide our subscribers with the hardware, the software and the firmware,” said Hooman Shahidi, CEO and co-founder of EVPassport. “We deliver 4G and 5G connectivity. We handle the operations, the maintenance and the insurance. We do the actual construction and implementation. And ongoing, we handle any upgrades and updates to the software piece as well. We have an open API so we can integrate with anything. And our customers keep 70 percent of the revenue.” 

According to Shahidi, the hospitality industry finds itself in a unique moment. Post-COVID, the industry is looking at options that not only deliver ancillary income but also help create engagement for their properties.  

“How do you get people to visit your hotel even if they’re not staying there?” Shahidi asked. “Maybe they’re hosting an event there, or visiting the bar or restaurant. Our platform contributes to a property’s discoverability. We integrate with all the different mapping engines such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, as well as all the EV charging apps. So for us it's about getting people to show up, and then taking that engagement and delivering functionality. That's a huge opportunity to create further value for the guests and engagement for the property.” 

This article was originally published in the May edition of Hotel Management magazine. Subscribe here.