The hospitality industry’s efforts to minimize energy consumption and carbon footprint are no secret. What is less known, though, is how your hotel’s sustainability programs can impact guest satisfaction and increase engagement.

Newly constructed or renovated hotels may opt to invest in appliances that conserve energy or even become LEED-certified. Brands may choose to print collateral on recycled paper; source local food, drink, or decor; or begin composting waste from on-property dining. However, guests don’t generally choose a hotel based on its eco-friendly programs, or lack thereof, so many times, the choices by brands to invest in a green program are made to save time and/or money.

To make the investment worthwhile, you’ll often need buy-in from your guests – they must participate in your program so that way you actually do start saving the time and money you’ve projected. Good thing that guests are generally willing to participate in such programs. In fact, nearly 75 percent of guests said they would participate in a hotel’s sustainability program, according to a 2015 study from Cornell.

The study also found that incentives from hotels can increase participation even more. And combined with stylized incentives, your green program could even turn into a revenue stream or impact guest satisfaction and engagement in such a way that repeat stays and loyalty to your brand are more likely.

“Although the link between environmentally sustainable programs and improved customer satisfaction is weak compared to standard drivers like facilities, room, and food and beverage quality, hotels are increasingly expected to maintain sustainability programs as a regular feature of their business,” according to the Cornell study.

The stability in participation could point to a gap between what is currently offered and what travelers want from hotels in terms of green offerings.

So how do you incentivize, promote and give thanks when your guests participate in a linen reuse program, turndown housekeeping service or take part in another green-based initiative on-property?


The Cornell survey shows that those guests who do not participate in hotels’ green programs would be more willing to do so if incentivized to act.

“More than 80 percent of guests who are not currently participating (about one-third of those responding) state that they would take action if rewards were offered,” according to Cornell.

A study co-led by Michigan State University researcher Thomas Hult examined what types of incentives are most likely to drive participation. The study found that “a company should allow customers to choose between a reward that benefits themselves or another organization.”
  • Rewards perks
    Loyal guests turning down housekeeping service? Offer extra reward points that can be cashed in for an upgraded room (the opportunity for even more housekeeping savings for your property!), gifts, or other perks, such as offers at your on-property F&B option, like Crowne Plaza Denmark and Starwood have done.

  • Charitable donation
    Offer to give to a cause that reinforces your brand or your green program each time a guest contributes to your sustainability efforts. Plant a tree, donate money to an environmentally focused nonprofit, or a local organization. For those non-rewards customers, this can prove to be the incentive to get them to participate in your green program or stay loyal to your brand.


There are numerous ways to communicate your sustainability program with mainstay items your property already purchases.
  • Key inserts
    Promote your sustainability programs and the impact guests can have with them on creatively designed and professionally produced key inserts.

  • Door hanger
    Guests can turndown housekeeping with door hangers, and your brand can let them know their choice helps save water, electricity, and energy. Incentives can also be tastefully promoted here.

  • Mirror clings
    Use clings on bathroom mirrors to let guests know how they can turndown new linens and the impact their choice makes.

  • In-room collateral
    Notecards and signs can communicate your efforts and bear the FSC® logo if produced to the standards to further demonstrate your brand’s corporate social responsibility.

Give Thanks

Let your guests know you appreciate their participation in a way that reinforces your program. Here are a few ideas that can be customized and adapted to your own brand and sustainability program.
  • Water bottle
    Reusable water bottles help limit waste. Reinforce your green program and brand with a gift (for participation or by redeeming rewards points) or an item available for purchase that uses your brand’s colors, pattern, or logo.

  • Local flowers with a traditional or collapsible vase
    This will create a visual guests will have to capture (and share) while giving them a vase – and a piece of your brand – they can take home with him (which is easier with a stylish, collapsible vase). Use a vase with your brand colors, or embellish a traditional vase with a brand pattern ribbon.

    If you have a rooftop garden, use flowers and plants from it and mention this in the handwritten notecard that accompanies this truly one-of-a-kind item! If you don’t have a rooftop garden, partner with a local florist for the floral arrangements so you can minimize your carbon footprint – just like the desire for local food and produce, guests and locals alike appreciate a property’s involvement and support for local businesses.

  • Jar with locally sourced treat
    Partner with a local honey, jelly, or the-like produce and feature their products in your F&B and/or room service options. Have the goody available in branded jars available as a gift or for purchase for your guests.

  • Recycled or biodegradable pencil
    It’s a small token of appreciation – a pencil made from recycled products, such as those shown below. Or even better, one they can plant when they’re done with it.
Your green program is just one way to attract guests and increase loyalty. Tactfully communicate the impact your guests can have, and offer incentives and items that can turn your program into a revenue stream rather than expense. Partner with an industry expert like A S Hospitality to maximize your program’s savings and efficiencies.  

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