How Does Sustainability Fit in Hospitality During a Health Crisis?

Sustainability was up until very recently at the forefront of desirable hospitality innovations. Guests had increased their demands for sustainable hospitality while governments had doubled down on environmental programs, and investors followed suit by focusing on establishments with actionable sustainability practices.

However, COVID-19 has made hoteliers feel the need to back away from sustainable innovations as some of them contradict the public health protocols currently in action.

Now hoteliers find themselves at a crossroads. Should they discard former plans of going green or would it be better, in the long run, to move forward with a plan for more sustainable hospitality?

While the reality of sustainable hospitality has changed, the need for it hasn’t. If anything COVID-19 has made it imperative to consider sustainability when investing in hospitality improvements.

Here are the three main points you should focus on when considering sustainable hospitality during a global pandemic:

Health & Housekeeping
How do we handle hygiene in hospitality in an eco-friendly manner that meets recommended health guidelines but is also cost-efficient?
It would be best if you began by establishing reliable hygiene protocols for your staff. While lockdown measurements are slowly being lifted one by one, more and more businesses are allowing themselves specific frivolities.
Further, in some countries, social distancing guidelines are also being discarded, allowing businesses to operate at full capacity at the risk of infection level spikes.
The reality of COVID-19 has put everyone on edge not always in fear of the disease itself but of the damages of prolonged lockdown measures.
Read more: 7 Key Points For Creating an Adaptive Hotel Experience During Covid-19
You want guests to seek out your services, but to do so successfully you must assure them that your business poses no threat to them. At the same time, the cost of keeping up with health guidelines is only getting steeper. After a dry spell which has seen many establishments permanently close their doors for the duration of at least a quarter of the year, many are eager to try and drive up business as much as possible and cut costs wherever they can.
Read more: How to Maximize Hotel Revenue During an Occupancy Drought
Creating a sustainable hygiene model can help resolve both of these issues. Some costs are a given, disinfectants and cleaning supplies are not something that you can skimp on, but these practices would help you in the long run:
  • Strip your hotel of unnecessary furnishings. Be it the sofas in the lobby, carpets in the guests’ rooms or even public trash bins, by removing unnecessary furnishing you are making the process of cleaning public spaces a lot easier on your staff. This further guarantees a better quality of the disinfection process. Guests are also less likely to loiter in public areas not accommodated for social interaction.
  • Find innovative ways to disinfect rooms quickly and efficiently. Mariott’s Global Cleanliness Council is looking at electrostatic disinfection and ultraviolet light to sanitize rooms more effectively. While the jury’s still out on UV light and its overall usefulness in sanitation (the World Health Organization has declared that UV cannot be used as a replacement for traditional disinfection) electrostatic sprayers are another deal entirely. The devices used for electrostatic disinfection magnetize the disinfection fluid allowing it to spread out and stick to the surface it covers. In terms of effectiveness, it provides your housekeeping staff with a way of cleaning rooms with minimal contact with surfaces in reduced time.
  • Equip rooms and public spaces with touchless improvements – lights, water fountains, and touchless alcohol sanitizers. The long term benefit of contactless technology is even more apparent in our given climate. It is after all easy for your staff to overlook a light switch or two when disinfecting rooms. The most direct way of handling this problem would be to remove it altogether.
Water, Energy and Waste
Cutting down utility costs is always on the list of priorities of a hotel owner, and it might be the right time to invest in the improvements that would achieve this goal finally.
There are many ways in which you can improve on your hotel’s energy consumption, and the benefit will always outweigh the cost. The choice of improvement will vary according to your establishment and region’s needs. According to the Green Buildings Return On Investment case study, there are several cost-efficient sustainable improvements which are implemented globally with great success.
Low-flow showerheads and faucets are credited as shaving upwards of 20% of the cost of water usage in establishments across the world. You might wonder if this is the right choice of investment during a pandemic. Still, the reality of it is that guests are not less likely to wash their hands or take a shower just because the water pressure is lower, what they are more likely to do is to be more efficient with their time and in turn cut the overall cost of water usage for your hotel.
Energy-saving costs tend to involve a more complex set of improvements; the overall trend, however, leans towards the construction of the space itself. Having smaller rooms with smaller windows would create natural insulation that would, in turn, cut energy costs. Solar panels, air conditioning and light-saving fixtures are also in that category with energy cost reductions going as far as 25%.
It is worth noting here that if your establishment relies on air conditioning like many others, the filters need to be cleaned on the regular as there is as of yet not enough information to determine whether COVID-19 can be transmitted involuntarily via an active AC.
Reducing your establishment’s overall waste production can be a retroactive action as your hotel has likely been inactive for at least two months bringing down your total waste output for that period to zero. However, a great way of keeping up with this trend would be to switch to local vendors and suppliers for most of your hotel’s everyday needs.
Long-distance shipping of goods contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in ways that local sourcing does not. If you were to choose local vendors and services, you would also limit the health risk posed to your guests by merely shrinking the circle of people who’ve had contact with these goods.
Technology as a Sustainable Choice During a Health Crisis
Contactless check-in technology has been around for a while be it in the form of self-check-in kiosks or hotel self-service apps. With an ever-growing number of guests booking through their mobile device, it is truly not much of a stretch to consider completing their check-in process through their phone and easily picking up their key once they arrive onsite. And in the case of some apps using it instead of a keycard.
Tip: How Technologies are Helping Hoteliers Reduce Costs
Investing in a property management system with a hotel self-service app can allow you to reduce much of the contact involved in the everyday transactions between staff and guest. Once the guest has registered and provided credit card information, they can use the app free to check-in through their mobile device and then they are free to enjoy their stay.
Read more: 5 Ways Hotel Self Check-In Technology Can Help You Through 2020
They can further shop through the app and sign up for additional activities and order room service. Upselling through a hotel self-service app is invaluable in a social climate that encourages limited social interaction between your staff and guests.
The challenges presented by COVID-19 have hindered many hoteliers in their goal of providing the best service possible to their guests. However, sustainable hospitality practices bring a promise of reducing operational costs and health risks, while allowing you a better chance of recovery.

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About Clock Software

Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.