Since its launch 15 years ago, the Green Key Eco‐Rating Program has watched the lodging industry gradually embrace and embed a culture of sustainability into its daily operations. This move towards greener practices is resonating with Canadian business and leisure travellers as noted by the Hotel Association of Canada in their annual Travel Intentions Survey released earlier this year.
The survey has been tracking the green tendencies of both business and leisure travellers since 2009. This year’s results show an increasing trend by the traveller to take specific ‘green’ factors into consideration when making their travel plans.
Baseline initiatives such as recycling programs and conservation efforts (water, energy) remain significant amongst respondents showing a six per cent increase in importance from 39 per cent in 2009, to 44 per cent this year. Implementing programs, where feasible, that address and promote these initiatives provide simple yet prime opportunities for hotels to engage guests in contributing to the success of their property’s sustainable goals.
In 2010, respondents were asked about the value of properties making eco‐friendly products available to travellers (such as bathroom amenities). Year over year more than a third of leisure (30 per cent in 2010 to 36 per cent in 2013) and business (34 per cent in 2010 and 36 per cent in 2013) travellers have stated the importance of providing such products.
Fifty‐three per cent of leisure travellers cited the importance of hypo‐allergenic rooms being available for their families. Environmental sensitivities, relatively unknown and largely misunderstood until recently, are on the rise. Sensitivities range in severity and can be triggered by factors such as deodorizing sprays, detergent residue and chemical cleaning products.
A traveller’s willingness to pay to participate in a hotel’s carbon offset program has fluctuated over the past four years. In 2009 48 per cent were agreeable to paying up to $5 per night to participate in such a program. This percentage dipped to the low 40’s between 2010 and 2012 but reaches a high of 49 per cent this year.
The significance of environmental certification programs is on the rise as well with 26 per cent of leisure travellers citing the importance of these programs compared to 22 per cent in 2010. Travellers see value in hotels that work to reduce the impact of their operations on the health of their guests, staff and the planet. Participating in an environmental certification program can assist hoteliers with meeting the immediate expectations of those environmental‐minded guests while also paving the way for long‐term improvements and savings.