Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 28 2013

Does Going Green Really Pay Off for Hotels?

By David McMillin

green hotels

As many travelers join the eco-friendly movement, some hotel properties are taking extra steps toward being better friends to the environment, too. A new study conducted at The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University worked to determine if those additional steps are leading toward enhanced profitability, too.

The results? Going green doesn’t necessarily mean making more green, too.

Based on data of sales and rates that compared more than 3,000 eco-certified hotels with 6,000 standard properties, the research showed that booking revenue remained relatively flat for hotels that had earned some type of environmental distinction.

SEE ALSO: How Eco-Friendly Is Your Room Block?

“This study shows that, on average, the hotel industry doesn’t lose sales or rate from sustainability,” Howard G. Chong, Ph.D., co-author of the study and assistant professor at Cornell University, says. “Green is not a ‘silver bullet’ strategy.”

Travelers Will Give Green Glowing Reviews

Some green skeptics have voiced concerns over whether eco-friendly standards can coincide with today’s definition of luxury, but the research revealed that these properties can be just as high-end.

“There’s a nagging question about whether installing green programs interferes with the hotel’s quality standards and its ability to provide guest luxury,” Chong adds. “Some hotels have been reluctant to go green because they might lose business.”

“We can conclude that green is compatible with existing quality standards of hotel service,” Chong and co-author Rohit Verma, Ph.D, write in a paper that accompanies the research.

SEE ALSO: What Hotels Are Failing To Do

The Future Still Looks Promising

The news that promoting LEED certification or similar achievements doesn’t have a real impact on revenue may frustrate some marketing departments at hotels. Still, it’s clear that being environmentally friendly is still a crucial piece of success.

“The results of this study shouldn’t slow down hotels’ move towards sustainability,” the report concludes. “If the hotel industry is consistent with the broader movement of sustainable business, the first projects are cautious and target cost-cutting. Though revenues overall may not have risen, cost savings from sustainability programs are still real benefits to the bottom line.”

To read the full report, click here to visit the official website of The Center for Hospitality Research. (Access is free, but readers must create an account).

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