Thursday, May 6, 2010

Green Choice Program Criticized by Staff

Last August I wrote about Starwood's Make a Green Choice program. (See article.) Through the program, guests at Sheraton and Westin properties have the option of opting out of housekeeping for a day. Guests can choose to participate up to three consecutive nights. To participate, a guest must hang a "Make a Green Choice" card outside the guestroom door before 2 a.m. Guests are not eligible for the program the night prior to checking out of a room. For each night they participate, guests are given a $5 gift card to use at any of the hotel's restaurants. Guests also have the option of receiving 500 Starpoints as part of Starwood's loyalty program.

The environmental benefits to Make a Green Choice are significant. Of course there are labor savings as well. I gave the program a lot of praise in my article and still believe the concept makes a lot of sense.

According to an article in "The Canadian Press" dated May 5, however, some hotel workers in Toronto are saying programs like Make a Green Choice are fake green programs. Workers at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto are saying that it takes three times longer to clean a room that has gone without cleaning for several days and requires more cleaning fluids. With so many guests participating in the program at that hotel, housekeepers have also lost work hours.

This is one of those instances where a very good idea--one that results in greater business and environmental efficiency--causes unexpected pain. I can certainly understand the housekeepers' concerns. How would you solve a dilemma like this while still running a socially responsible enterprise? I would love to hear from you with your comments.

1 comment:

James Holleran said...

Sustainability practices have always been about making trade-offs, not seeking 'balances' as often quoted in the literature. If tourism and hospitality sectors move from being reactive to pro-active on 'Green' practices, we will need greater LCA type thinking and analysis of our programs, clearly identifying our trade-offs and the justifications for them