Greening of the Hospitality Industry: Towards Mandatory Green Labelling

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GREENING OF THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY:

TOWARDS A CONSISTENT, MANDATORY, RATING STYLE GREEN HOTEL LABELING SYSTEM

AN ARTICLE BY VERITY ILEY
FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD: HEATHER HARTWELL
‘JOURNAL OF FUTURE INDUSTRY ISSUES.’

IN PARTIAL COMPLETION OF BA (HONS) INTERNATIONAL HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT 14TH MAY 2008
ABSTRACT:

Environmental issues are of increasing concern nationally and globally. Consumers expect hotels to be environmentally friendly which is found to influence their purchasing decisions. Consumers rely on hotel labeling to clearly inform them of the companies contribution. The increasing perception that consumers are influenced by labeling has lead to an increase in faux eco-tourism or ‘green washing,’ as a method to gaining competitive advantage, mainly through the use of misleading ‘green’ claims. This does not allow the consumer to make a clear and informed choice, green claims interfere with certification program labeling, and there is a lack of education on the consumers behalf of how to interpret the information. The exploitation of this has led to broken down consumer trust, of which needs to be restored in order to progress towards environmental targets. This article seeks to the issue towards recommendation for improvement.

INTRODUCTION

This article will begin by briefly looking at government initiatives and consumer concerns about environmental issues within the hospitality industry specifically focusing on hotels. In will then discuss how hotels have used initiatives, to advertise to and market to consumers, progressing to probe further into green claims, ‘green’ hotel labels and certifications. It then seeks to discuss the importance and relevance of clear labeling from environmental issues, The article will explore the issue of ‘green marketing’ and ‘green washing;’ how it is seen to be exploiting current legislation and to some extent consumer naivety, following this it will round up the issues with hotel labeling. The article then considers other hospitality labeling systems and initiatives, as a source of comparison to gain a broader perspective on the matter. The article concludes by discussing how a new and/ or improved ‘green’ labelling systems could address the issues previously discussed, and proposes areas for further research.

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES AND CONSUMER CONCERNS

Environmental issues are of increasing concern for government; high on the agenda now for all political parties (Mintel 2007). Supply-side initiatives such as the International Hotel Environment Initiative (IHEI) and increasing client requirements have created greater awareness and demand for change, for transparency regarding tourism companies’ action (Mintel 2002). A survey carried out by EDF Energy demonstrates this, showing that becoming more environmentally friendly has taken priority over traditional New Year’s resolutions such as getting a new job or quitting smoking (Anon2 2008). There is not only national but growing global public concern for the safety and reservation of the environment (D’Souza 2004). The hospitality industry is a major consumer of resources and products including water, power, and newspapers and cleaning supplies (www.economicallysound.com), and two surveys suggest that consumers recognise this. In the first, 90% of consumers in a survey of 2,000 UK customers, carried out by Travel Lodge, stated they believe hotel and tourism companies have a responsibility (Thomas 2007). In the second, a global survey of 300 international travellers carried out by the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and the IHEI, found consumers believed empathetically that hotels have a major responsibility towards the environment, with the majority agreeing that it is important that hotels actively take steps to preserve and protect natural resources (Mintel 2002). This is important as it places an expectation on the company.

Central and local governments have introduced many...
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