Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Greetings to Blog Readers

Just wanted to quickly express my thanks to all of those who participated in the Green Lodging News blog in 2009. Your comments were great. Please continue to follow the Green Lodging News blog in 2010. I will look forward to joining you then. Have a very happy and healthy holiday season. All the best from Green Lodging News to you and your family.

Glenn Hasek, Publisher & Editor
Green Lodging News

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Food Channel, NRA Agree on 2010 Trends

The Food Channel just released its top 10 food trends for 2010. The findings are based on research conducted in conjunction with CultureWaves and the International Food Futurists. One of the top 10 trends is "Mainstreaming Sustainability." According to the Food Channel, "People have mainstreamed sustainability, unlike a year ago, when we were somewhat afraid to use the word. America is just now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. In 2010 we'll see people and companies becoming sustainable for authentic reasons."

The Food Channel's findings jibe with those of the National Restaurant Association (NRA). In early December the NRA revealed that local sourcing of ingredients, sustainability and nutrition will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2010. (See article.) The NRA surveyed more than 1,800 chefs.

With such prominent organizations as the Food Channel and the NRA stating that sustainability is hot, how should one react if one runs a food and beverage operation? Understanding what sustainability means when it comes to food and beverages is extremely important. Knowing where your food comes from (local is better), how it was produced (organic is preferred), and how workers were treated along the way is key. Ensuring energy and water efficiency in the kitchen, minimizing waste (recycling cooking oil and composting food waste), and using green cleaning products is also important. These are just a few examples.

What are you doing to make your food and beverage operation more sustainable?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Some Thoughts About Conference Planning

I just returned from the second annual Green Lodging and Hospitality Conference. It was held at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla., from December 9 to 11. I reported on the event for Green Lodging News. My hat goes off to anyone who tried to hold a conference or trade show this year. The economy was a bear. Each event I attended this year had attendance lower than expected. How do you convince hoteliers to spend money on travel and registration when their own businesses are hurting? It is a challenge.

Even in tough economic conditions, however, one cannot always blame just the economy for poor event attendance. There are other reasons events fail to reach expectations. Examples include: too little investment in marketing or public relations; too few staff or volunteers doing too many things; poor calendar management--waiting too long before planning the details of the event (lining up speakers, posting the agenda online, etc.); charging too much; doing a better job at attracting vendors than attracting potential buyers; ignoring or not recognizing partnership opportunities; and inviting guest speakers who are not the best fit for the target audience.

In case you are planning to organize an event in 2010 or 2011, here are a few bits of advice: To get listed in all of the event calendars--places prospective attendees go to when planning their schedules--one must plan at least a year or more in advance. I highly recommend working with a professional marketing/public relations professional with experience in the industry in which you are working. Don't take on too much yourself. Work with a professional meeting planner. Get to know the experts in your field--the best speakers. Go to other events to find them. At the Thursday luncheon at the Green Lodging and Hospitality Conference, the speaker spoke more about green homes than green hotels--disappointing. She also referred to the American Hotel & Lodging Association as the "AS&LA." Yikes. (The majority of the speakers at the conference were excellent.)

The economy of the last year should have taught everyone that in order to get customers to spend money, you have got to provide the type of value they just cannot refuse. That approach applies to conferences and trade shows as well. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New TripAdvisor Survey Looks at Green Trends

TripAdvisor just announced the results of its annual trends survey of more than 3,000 U.S. travelers. According to the survey, 22 percent of travelers expect to be more environmentally conscious in their travel decisions in 2010 than they were in 2009. Thirty-two percent consider their carbon footprint when they are traveling, and as a result, 44 percent of those travelers choose to stay at "green" or environmentally-conscious hotels, while 26 percent choose to drive rather than fly, and 20 percent travel shorter distances. A hotel having "green" policies also factors into 33 percent of travelers' booking decisions.

While these results are impressive, approximately two-thirds of travelers still apparently do not factor in the environmental impact of their travel decisions when traveling. And, the same percentage do not factor in "green" policies when making hotel booking decisions. That said, it is good to see that more travelers will be considering the environment when traveling in 2010.

What are you seeing in your day-to-day operations? Are more guests and potential guests asking you about your green initiatives? Or, is it about the same as in years past?

Click here to read the entire press release detailing survey results.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia & Composting

When management at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia learned in 2006 that their recycling program was only catching 3 to 5 percent of the hotel's waste by weight, they were not very happy. To increase the property's recycling volume, the hotel established a kitchen scraps recycling program with local composter and farmer Ned Foley. The program has been a success with the hotel saving almost $5,000 a year by having the compostable waste taken to Foley's Two Particular Acres farm. The waste would otherwise have gone to a landfill.

The composting program has been a success thanks to the efforts of the many employees who work in the hotel's kitchen. Black composting bins stand close to each kitchen work station. Employees deposit all of the kitchen's organic discards--food scraps plus paper, cardboard and biodegradable packaging, napkins and dishware--into the composting bins. At the end of each day, director of engineering Marvin Dixon takes the organic waste by truck to the farm. Dixon's truck runs on biodiesel made from the hotel's used cooking oil.

At Two Particular Acres Farm, Foley uses the scraps from the Four Seasons to make compost. The hotel then purchases that for its gardens and landscapes--closing the recycling loop. With 240,000 pounds of organic waste from the kitchen each year, the hotel contributes to the production of a lot of compost.

According to Dixon, the program took two months to take hold in the kitchen. Thanks to the kitchen scrap recycling program, the hotel has reduced its landfill waste by 29 percent. The EPA put together a case study of the Four Seasons Philadelphia's efforts. To see it, click here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

USGBC Offering 'Green Venue Selection Guide'

Meeting and event planners and those lodging establishments that offer meeting space should get a copy of a new publication from the U.S. Green Building Council. "The Green Venue Selection Guide--Integrating LEED into Travel & Event Management" is a free resource geared toward helping meeting and event planners incorporate LEED's approach to evaluating buildings' environmental attributes during the RFP process. The guide includes a five-page Hotel & Conference Center Environmental Questionnaire, which planners can use to identify and select the greenest facilities based on LEED criteria. Venue sales staff can also use it to communicate their facility's environmental efforts and accomplishments when submitting proposals to potential customers.

The questionnaire focuses on facility-wide environmental characteristics instead of event-specific features. For example, the questionnaire includes a question that asks for the percentage of a building's total waste stream that it diverts from landfill disposal. The questionnaire also includes questions pertaining to a property's Energy Star score, percentage of the facility's total energy that is provided by on-site or off-site renewable energy, whether or not the property has a sustainable purchasing policy, and whether or not the facility prohibits smoking indoors.

USGBC's new guide should certainly not be the only tool that a meeting planner uses in gathering information from a prospective meeting site. Its questions, however, can be integrated into a much more complete RFP.

To access a copy of The Green Venue Selection Guide, click here.