When well-meaning ‘green meeting’ planners ask hotels to commit to sustainable practices (e.g. purchasing locally produced food products; providing ‘bulk’ soap/shampoo dispensers in guest rooms, etc) they inadvertently put hotel operators in a perplexing dilemma: Comply with the planner request or violate brand standards?
Brand standards are only part of the picture. Hotels participating in the Star ratings system risk compromising that 4th star should they make a switch to bulk shampoo. That’s a tough sell for many general managers… and a tough pill to swallow for committed green meeting planners.
Among the goals of the emerging sustainability standards for meetings and events is to inspire resource efficiency for a traditionally wasteful industry. Many who are involved in this movement are progressive thinkers who the adoption of better practices as being a simple matter of common sense. The issue, perhaps, is the ossified system of hotel industry quality assurance standards do not yet consider sustainable practices in their criteria for compliance.
Can the corporate offices of the most successful hotel brands respond to the sustainability movement (efficiency criteria outlined by sustainability standards and the standards required by Green Seal, Swan and other respected Type 1 eco label certifications)? Do they risk a loss of business if they do? Will the installation of water smart shower heads, efficient guest room lighting or reduced amenity packages compromise the quality of their brand? There’s a disconnect between what the brands hold as quality and what sustainability seeks as practice.
At what point in the ‘sustainability revolution’ can we agree that sustainability and quality are inextricably linked?