A national hotel chain is working with a marketing/consulting firm on an environmental education campaign, encouraging hotel guests to participate in sustainability practices prior to and during their stay.
As part of the IHG Green Engage program, the Holiday Inn Denver East - Stapleton and VERDE have completed the first phase of the project involving a case study, which included observations, research and analysis.
“It is increasingly becoming more important to people who live a green lifestyle and even among those more casual to it, but aware, as green awareness is raised,” says Heath Dobyns, general manager of the Holiday Inn Denver East - Stapleton.
As part of Holiday Inn’s parent company, the IHG Green Engage helps hotels save money on utility costs and reduce environmental impact. Use of the tool is a standard for all hotels. The standard requires setup in the system, monthly entry of energy and water utility data and completion of Level 1 Certification, which requires completing 10 green solutions.
The Holiday Inn Denver East - Stapleton and VERDE program aims to give guests educational resources and insight that will enable them to live more sustainably in their everyday lives and to promote Holiday Inn as a “green” hotel, while reducing lighting, water, labor and overall energy costs for the hotel.
“Our goal is to meet the needs of guests who are becoming increasingly concerned with the environment, reduce the hotel’s impact on the environment, actualize cost savings and win more business that is dependent on sustainability practices,” says Dobyns.
The hotel currently holds a Level 1 Certification in the IHG Green Engage program and is working toward Level 2 by adding recycling bins in guestrooms, among other plans.
“As the hotel continues to work on its Green Engage Level 2 certification, this campaign is meant to engage guests in their use of the hotel’s resources during their stays, such as reducing their water and energy use and reducing waste,” says Amanda McDaniel, marketing and projects coordinator for Chesapeake, Va.-based VERDE. “Together, IHG Green Engage and guests will positively impact the resources used at the hotel. The larger goal is for guests to continue these habits when they go back home so that they will have a lasting impact on the environment.”
VERDE is responsible for the strategic formulation of the campaign, development of media that will be used in the campaign and implementation and monitoring of the campaign. The company will conduct follow-up surveys to gauge effectiveness and report those results to the hotel. VERDE also will adjust the campaign if needed and agreed upon with the hotel.
“While the hotel takes part in the IHG Green Engage program that ensures sustainable efforts are executed by the hotel, the communication element of this project is meant to engage guests in their use of hotel resources during their stay, habits they will hopefully take home as well to create a long-term impact on the environment,” says McDaniel.
Hotel guests will be engaged in the process even before they arrive for their stay through information provided on the hotel’s website. During their stay, they would continue to be engaged through communication elements that are delivered via several formats and at different locations.
The VERDE team recently stayed at the Holiday Inn Denver East - Stapleton and observed that the mission of the Green Engage program was in line with the desires of the hotel guests to be greener.
“We found some things that they could improve on outside of the IHG guidelines when it came to energy consumption and waste reduction, such as using solar energy to heat the pool and replacing disposable cups with glasses and coffee mugs,” says McDaniel. “We also saw many potential communication channels to help educate guests on how to be greener. But most importantly, we discovered that guests want to know that their hotel is sustainable.”
VERDE collaborated with hotel management and staff to perform a needs analysis, discuss potential campaign elements and create a campaign that will help the hotel achieve its goal of becoming greener and aid in progressing through the levels of the IHG Green Engage program.
“[VERDE has been] communicating not just how the hotel is being ‘green’—cold water laundry, low pressure shower heads, low flow toilets, LED lights, etc.—but how the guests can contribute, from ordering room service without disposables to foregoing room cleanings,” says Dobyns. “For example, our elevators are being renovated and will be complete shortly, and we are having elevator door clings installed once complete, communicating this message.”
Holiday Inn Denver East - Stapleton guests have embraced the initial stages of the program.
“Guests have inquired, and we have seen the participation in the greener stay program increase, which has helped us be more productive with labor [savings] and have a reduced impact on the environment,” says Dobyns.
The program is currently in the development stage and being tweaked before full implementation. According to McDaniel, many of the elements of this campaign have been used in previous campaigns.
“Those results showed that 84.8 percent of people said that they had become greener since their exposure to or participation in our campaigns, and 96.7 percent said that they would recommend us to others who want to know more about green living,” she says.