Sustainable thinking gaining momentum in the eyes of travelers

'Sustainable' is a very popular buzzword today in the world of hospitality. Hotels are always trying to stay one step ahead of what guests are looking for, and many brands have taken the leap towards becoming more eco-conscious to draw guests in with the promise of reducing their operating footprint, and maybe save a little money on utilities along the way. However, according to Sourceable, the traveling public may be shifting their gaze into the green space more and more.

Sourceable cited two studies by TripAdvisor, the first from 2012 finding that 71 percent of respondents planned on making 'environmentally friendly consumer decisions' over the next twelve months. The next survey, from 2014, found that over 25 percent of respondents make environmentally friendly decisions while staying in hotels, and a 2012 survey from travel agency TUI found 54 percent of respondents were familiar with sustainability concepts while 40 percent of them were concerned with sustainability in general.

With numbers like these on the rise it is no surprise to see another eco-friendly brand pop into existence. In late March, Starwood Capital Group launched the 1 hotels concept, a lifestyle brand that goes so far as to offer no paper or plastic in guestrooms and provides farmsteads where local farmers can sell goods to guests.

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And while the first 1 hotels property opened in Miami, eco-friendly hotels could become more popular in certain locations based on geography. California is currently in the midst of a crippling drought, and CBS San Francisco reported last month that water shortages are making way for water restrictions that could affect the state's hotel and restaurant industry. Citizens of California are already banned from hosing their driveways or washing cars without a shutoff nozzle as water becomes scarce.

This water shortage even led to a short-lived scare where it was thought the Environmental Protection Agency could potentially begin to monitor hotel guest's shower usage, as reported by 10 News, but this was soon debunked. Outside Online reported that the concept of shower-monitoring equipment originated in a $15,000 grant allocated by the EPA for students at the University of Tulsa, who proposed the development of a wireless device to monitor hotel water use.

Though EPA has no immediate plans to implement such a device in hotels, a report from Cornell University's Center for Hospitality Research found that, based on a study of 100 U.S. resorts, a majority were already using at least two dozen out of nearly four dozen potent sustainability practices.

"Guests essentially expect to find sustainable practices in a hotel, and a reasonably large percentage of guests are willing to participate in those programs," said Howard Chong, a professor at the School of Hotel Administration. "However, our study also found that even more guests will join in when hotels offer incentives, such as loyalty program points, for participating in environmental programs."

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