Guests’ perception of health and safety exhibit a significantly positive influence when booking hotels. Environmental protection in hotels has been promoted because customers recognize that travel activities can cause serious damage to the environment. Customers believe that they are a part of the “green programme” and feel a sense of satisfaction for leaving a sustainable planet to the next generation. Customers are offered “status-enhancing benefits” and tend to believe that they may leave a good impression to others by choosing a hotel with good sustainable practices. Thus, acknowledging guests for their environmental efforts and enhancing customers’ sustainability mindset are powerful forces for promoting sustainable hotel services.
We can all agree that housekeeping green practices can contribute to the company’s environmental management programme and generate various benefits for the environment, the hotel, for housekeeping staff and for guests.
Benefits for the environment include waste reduction and water and energy conservation.
Housekeeping employees agree that sustainable work practices will help to reduce waste. A 600 room Hotel with an average 80% occupancy easily produces 1000 empty plastic water bottles daily.
Therefore, it should be agreeable that housekeeping employees segregate these bottles for recycling purposes as these practices will help reduce the amount of waste, which of course is also beneficial to all stakeholders. Furthermore, green hotel practices can help reduce water consumption, thereby benefiting the environment. Water conservation strategies include the bed linen reuse programme, as well as dual flush toilets in guestrooms. Environmental knowledge, awareness and concern are the key motivational sources for the employees’ ecological behaviour.
Benefits for the hotel include money savings. Replacing bed linens less frequently can help save laundry costs given that this chore is one of the largest expenses in the housekeeping department. The laundry charges the hotel based on the weight of linen. By reducing the replacement of bed linens, the hotel can save money, water and energy. The bed linen reuse programs can help reduce the money spent on laundry costs and extend the life cycle of bed linens. These green practices in housekeeping can certainly provide economic benefits to the hotel. The installation of water-conserving fixtures, including the dual-flushing systems for toilets in guestrooms, is a common practice for hotels, thereby decreasing water utility bills.
Benefits for employees include the provision of green cleaners as these cleaners are safer and less harmful to the environment compared with synthetic ones. Room attendants also appreciate the bed linen reuse programme because they must only “tidy up” the bed instead of adding another chore of changing the bed linens in every room, except for the guests who have requested for a replacement. Room attendants can concentrate their effort and time on tidying up and properly dusting the guests’ room and bathroom given that they do not have to change the complete set of linen, which creates a more decent work environment with the same economic returns.
Guests are usually pleased to be part of environmental efforts. Some guests get a sense of pleasure and satisfaction as they participate in green practices. However, some customers find the green initiatives are insignificant for their satisfaction and sometimes even cause an unpleasant experience. But this all depends on sociocultural background and cultural values.
Eventually, governments will also have a say and enforce good environmental practices.
About the author:
Tatjana Ahmed is the Director of Housekeeping at Grand Hyatt Dubai and Chairwoman of the UAE Housekeepers Association.