TripAdvisor, one of the largest online travel sites, launched a “GreenLeaders” program that ranks 2,100 U.S. hotels based on their eco-friendliness, focusing on operations more than construction. Those 2100 hotels now have something that their competitors do not. No…not a heart, but a ranking. I don’t know about you, but when I managed hotels I never wanted my competition to have an advantage that I didn’t and this program is free.
As an example, The Hotel Palomar Dallas, a Kimpton Hotel, is listed as the No. 1 green hotel in Dallas, with a platinum-level ranking for features including Energy Star windows and laundry machines, and energy-efficient lighting. There are 186 Dallas hotels listed on TripAdvisor and only 8 of these are in the GreenLeaders program. I suspect there will be many more very soon. See Table below for a cursory look at some other cities and the participation level as of 10-9-13.
In a recent presentation Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel at TripAdvisor indicated that 11,000 reviews of green hotels have been submitted through TripAdvisor and more than 150,000 people have used the green hotels search button. “We think this is going to get much bigger,” she says.
She estimates that about 70 percent of consumers are interested in green on some level “They would like to do environmentally friendly things, but they’re not willing to accept any trade-offs,” she said “Green is the cherry on the top, but they’re not going to sacrifice a need that they have for the hotel.” Location as it relates to the purpose of the trip and price/value are usually the dominant drivers for consumers when choosing a hotel but will a tie go to the green leader hotel?
I could recite a list of tipping points along the Continuum of Sustainability in the lodging business, but (in my humble opinion) TripAdvisor has made sustainability mandatory for hotels. From this point forward, an owner and/or operator will be at a disadvantage by ignoring this subject. It’s about REVENUE now. Until now it was beneficial for hotels with significant meeting space and hotels with Fortune 500 travelers to be as “green” as possible. Meeting Planners and Corporate Travel Managers have been asking hotels to jump on the Green Bandwagon for a few years. Now, every hotel on TripAdvisor has a reason to play an instrument in the Green Band.