25 ways to turn your guests green

07 October 2010
25 ways to turn your guests green

Your hotel might have a comprehensive green strategy but it can still be compromised if your guests don't play their part. Here are 25 ways to encourage buy-in from them as recommended by members of the Considerate Hoteliers Association.

It makes perfect business sense to implement and pursue environmental policies, but even the most comprehensive strategy can be compromised if your customers don't play their part. Today business can realise financial rewards by being green but you need buy-in from your guests so that all your hard work isn't wasted.

These days televisions are turned off when not in use, lights are energy-saving and food is local and seasonal, but you can make sure guests play their part too. We asked members of the Considerate Hoteliers Association for their tips on how to encourage environmental buy-in from your customers.

1. Philip Newman-Hall
Director/general manager
Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons

In future, guests will be able to opt out of having their bill presented to them in a wasteful envelope or folder, and instead donate 10p to the Plant a Tree charity. Last year, we used 8,500 folders for this purpose and it would be great if we could drastically reduce this number while making a positive environmental contribution to the local community.

2. Christopher Cowdray
Chief executive
Dorchester Collection

When planning Coworth Park we seized upon the opportunity to introduce some of the latest zero carbon technologies, many of which are a first for hotels of this nature in the UK. Guests will be able to enjoy the ultimate luxury that Coworth Park has to offer, while at the same time be confident that they are helping to look after the planet.

3. Alvaro Rey
General manager
InterContinental London Park Lane
To ensure customer buy-in we make our processes as simple as possible. For example, InterContinental London Park Lane has purchased multiple memberships of Transport for London's bicycle hire scheme. To make it even easier for guests to choose this carbon neutral, health-enhancing mode of transport we've offered use of our allocation of bikes on a completely complimentary and hassle-free basis.

4. Andrew Beale
Managing director
Beales Hotels
If you're serving local food and drink provide detailed information about it to your customers. We do this by way of a booklet which stands on every table and is free to take away. Each page has details of a particular supplier, the number of food miles they travel, photos and logos, and their website address. It gives guests a much greater understanding of what we are trying to achieve with our suppliers and assists them in their choices. We printed 5,000 of these last year and are already going to a second edition as it is such a useful little brochure for guests to take away.

5. Melanie Dixon-Phillip
PA to the directors
Budock Vean Hotel , Cornwall (Considerate Hotel of the Year 2010)

6. Liz McGivern
Director of HR and training
Red Carnation Hotels
When rooming guests, we ensure that they are told in a sensitive way about the hotel's green policy - hence not leaving the air conditioning on and not having the TV on, on arrival, either. This gives a hint to the guest that they may wish to do the same. We also leave a note in each room, from the managing director, explaining what our green policy is. In it, we update the guest on money saved from the consumption of electricity, a considerable amount of which we are able to donate to charity.

- The team at Coworth Park has introduced zero carbon technologies including a biomass boiler for fuel
7\. Chris Penn Hotel managerThe Cavendish London Communicate your actions. Our food and beverage team has a goal of 100% sustainable purchasing by the end of 2010 and has already taken significant action, such as working with individual farms to supply our meat. Each month, we write a page about one of our producers or suppliers for the front of the menu. 8\. Clare Wright Director of procurement, environment and sustainability Lancaster London A great way to engage your guests in environmental policies is to host activities that involve them. This September, the Lancaster London organised its first Green Week. The hotel showcased an electric car in the forecourt and scooters in the lobby; biscuits made from the hotel's honey were served to guests; the managers did a photo shoot with London Cycles to encourage guests to use the new bikes, which are located outside the hotel; the restaurants had organic menus; and staff planted cabbages in the north garden. 9. Lauren McCann General manager The Queensberry Hotel & Olive Tree Restaurant, Bath Do all you can to influence customers' behaviour before they arrive at the hotel by financially incentivising them. Here at the Queensberry, we've created our quirky Couldn't Car Less scheme, which encourages our guests to come by public transport and to decline a linen change - meaning we reduce their bill by £20. It's working really well and neatly fits in with our cheeky branding style. 10. Graham McGregor General manager County Hotel, Chelmsford With a Carbon Trust loan, we have invested in new plant, which has enabled us to reduce our power consumption by some 30% since 2008. We now recycle 54% of all our waste and this percentage is still growing. We encourage our guests to contribute to our green policy through the in-room information and requests to turn off lights, not to overfill baths or kettles, and not to leave TVs or DVD players on standby. Any food that comes back from conference buffets goes straight out to a local homeless charity and we send our part-used soaps and shampoos to the Whitechapel Mission via our next-door Methodist church. All our team members are encouraged to bring new ideas too. 11. Mark Godfrey Managing director Harbour Hotels We offer our guests a special discounted rate should they travel to the hotel by public transport. By showing their train or bus ticket we offer a complimentary upgrade. We have a courtesy car too. Should guests arrive at the train station, we will arrange to collect them (we have a deal with the local taxi company - they won't charge us!) 12. Charles Lotter General manager Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, Dorset Publish your entire manifesto in the guest compendium in every room. This has provoked a surprising amount of feedback from guests on how impressed they are to read of our work. These efforts include details of our conservation of natural resources, nature-friendly gardening practices, our recycling programme, our social programmes, our employee wellbeing scheme and our policy of purchasing from responsible sources. 13. Jonathan Kaye Operations director Cedar Manor Hotel & Restaurant, Windermere, Cumbria Produce a set of local walks and ideas for guests to have a car-free holiday. Even in the Lake District we can send all our guests out on foot, by public transport and by organised tour. Being near to the railway station, we can even get our guests here quickly. We buy as much of our food as possible from local suppliers and our furniture is hand-made in Windermere, with wood sourced from sustainable forests. 14. Anna Lupton Proprietor Carr House Farm bed & breakfast, North Yorkshire As a small establishment, we have the benefit of often being able to discuss my green issues with guests in a no-pressure situation. We have our own spring which supplies water to the house. We also use dead wood for our fires and every year we plant young trees. 15. Manny Sawhney Managing director Asperion Hotels Take part in the Bag It! Bin It! campaign, which helps to protect the marine environment just by sorting out what can be flushed and what can't. This will costs a few minutes of guests' time, but it has an incalculable benefit on the marine environment. To raise awareness we've invested in some green reading materials for guests. Good reads are *The Big Earth Book* by James Bruges, *The Weather Makers* by Tim Flannery, *The Meaning of the 21st Century* by James Martin, and *Change the World for a Fiver: We are What we Do* by Anon. 16. Tony Barnfield Chef/proprietor The Nurse's Cottage Restaurant with Rooms, Lymington Aware that chambermaids have an unpleasant task emptying the typical guest waste bin, we ask guests to deposit any unwanted newspapers, magazines, paper or card in The Green Box next to the bar for recycling. We also recycle bottles and cans. The response has been excellent and no longer do staff have to separate used tea bags from the pages of *The Times* or remove used bottles of drink from the half-eaten food that was the guests' snack lunch the day before. 17. Richard Slade Licensee Battlesteads, Wark-on-Tyne, Northumberland Tell your customers what you're doing. It seems obvious, but so often we just do all this good stuff and don't shout about it enough. Battlesteads introduced a newsletter this year and it has a section dedicated to green updates within it. We also have information boards around the place and I do a tour for guests every day which takes in all the green aspects of the hotel. 18. Paul Brackley General manager Crowne Plaza, London Last year the hotel planning team reviewed the process for the change of bed linen and towels in guest rooms. The hotel wanted to ensure the guests understood this was an environmental initiative rather than a service or cost reduction exercise. A well-worded environmental card was placed on the bed at turn down, giving the option for the guest to ‘opt out' should they wish to have their sheets changed daily. Guests were very positive in their feedback and the savings on water usage and linen used have been circa £60k in 12 months.
Crowne Plaza London saved £60k in a year by reviewing the process for the change of bed linen and towels
19\. Caroline Lowe People development manager Park Inn Heathrow Link up with your local transport office who offer a huge amount of advice, support, and funding for on-site travel audits, transport planning for customers and employees, cycle hire schemes, and many other initiatives that will strengthen your external green activities. 20. Guy Hodge Operations manager Imago at Burleigh Court, Loughborough University Involve guests in the changes you are making. We have changed our bathroom toiletry range to a more sustainable product (the BeeKind range from Gilchrist & Soames), following a month-long trial with guests sampling a number of different products. 21. Anna Pascoe Manager Primrose Valley Hotel, Cornwall Implement a visitor gifting scheme, which is really simple to do. We add £1 per room per night to each guest's bill, and all of this money is donated to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). Over £12,000 has been raised in this way since the scheme began in 2005. The key to its success is making sure that all correspondence talks openly about how proud you are that guests are raising money in this way. We incentivise travel by public transport by discounting room rates by £5 per room per night if guests leave their cars at home. To make this as easy as possible for visitors we've designed a *101 Things to do Without a Car* folder, which includes lots of activities within walking distance, but also full public transport route numbers and links for everything further afield. 22. Vanessa Scott Director Strattons Hotel and Restaurant, Swaffham, Norfolk Sculptures made from recycled agricultural iron in the grounds of the hotel restate the environmental message of the business while illustrating how waste can be used creatively. Also reception staff are trained in offering public transport information as well as holding relevant timetables and routes, in addition to an incentive of 10% off a room rate if arriving via public transport. 23. Gill Jenkins Proprietor Bedknobs Bed & Breakfast, Cornwall If provincial, then source guest room toiletries, creams and so on, from local suppliers. Display the products and sell them to your guests too - it's a win-win situation. It engages your guests, is good for the local economy and can be used in hotel advertising and room information. Publicise your story - both your successes and your failures - and be honest. Invite comment, criticism and ‘ideas from the floor'. Explain to your customers why you are doing what you do - and how it will make a difference. 24. Simon Doddrell Finance director Linthwaite House Hotel, Windermere, Cumbria We have details on the registration slip explaining that £1.50 will be automatically added to the bill unless the guest ticks a box to opt out. It explains that the money goes to the National Trust and Lake District Conservation Partnership. This then appears on the guest's bill as Caring Tourism Initiative. The vast majority of guests stay opted in. If they query it, then once it is explained to them they leave it on the bill. 25. Christopher Airey Managing director The Green House Hotel and Restaurant, Bournemouth Our room guide contains environmental information about the background and reasons for our choice of fixture and fittings. As a result, many guests ask us for contact information so they can buy these environmentally sustainable items for their home. For wedding packages and events we don't publish fixed menu options. Instead, our chef discusses with the event organiser what the seasonal options are at the time their event is being held. This encourages our customers to think about seasonality of food.  THE CONSIDERATE HOTELIERS ASSOCIATIONThe [Considerate Hoteliers Associationis a group of like-minded hoteliers whose purpose it is to encourage, assist, cajole and motivate fellow hoteliers to adopt sustainable, environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices. For further details about the association and a current list of members, visit GETTING EMPLOYEE BUY-INVanessa Scott DirectorStrattons Hotel and Restaurant, Norfolk â- Turn it off: still we have chefs coming out of catering colleges without any sense of their part in reducing energy and waste. Engage them by installing an energy meter for the kitchen and make them responsible for recording consumption of energy weekly. Include waste food, compost and energy use as part of the head chef's weekly reporting to directors. â- Housekeepers need to be aware of water consumption and cleaning product use. Spend time showing housekeeping staff how to efficiently clean - ie, flushing a toilet just once after cleaning, and not running water needlessly when cleaning baths, showers and sinks could save 15-20 litres of water per room. Small leaks can waste huge amounts of water. SUSTAINABILITY STARTS WITH SUPPLIERS Tony Barnfield, chef-proprietor of the Nurse's Cottage Restaurant with Rooms in Lymington, Hampshire, used to buy 28g jars of breakfast preserve for 12p to 19p each and sought a local supplier. "Trying to find a local supplier to provide a local version twice fell at the final hurdle - and eventually the reason became clear, a small producer would have to pay 17p for the jar and lid, not to mention the small business of making a profit from the exercise," he explains. Determined, Barnfield came up with the idea of collecting the little jars, rather than ‘recycling' them through the council scheme, and giving them to a local producer to sterilise and fill. "Less than one year on, this has led our one-woman producer of Perfect Preserves at Lymington to move production out of her kitchen into a unit in Sway, as her business has grown so much in such a short time," he explains. "We now operate the same system with our local honey producer in Totton."
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