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Hotel guests becoming more concerned with sustainability research finds

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The Seaflowers hotel in Devon using energy generation technologies like solar as well as energy efficiency measures to keep costs low and attract guests who are increasingly concerned with a hotel's sustainability credentials. Image: Seaflowers B&B

Sustainability has become an increasingly important aspect of the hotel sector according to new research from E.ON, which found that a third of guests believe hotels should be judged on how sustainable they are.

The utility company surveyed 2,000 leisure and business hotel guests and found a significant proportion want to see an accreditation system in place to rank the sustainability performance of the hotels they stay in.

In addition, half of respondents say that the sustainability and energy use of a hotel is important to them, despite a third admitting that they use more energy than they would at home.

According to the findings, this is a likely result of guests travelling with more electronic devices than ever before, with wider use of e-readers, smart watches and tablets all increasing energy consumption while travelling.

Phil Gilbert, head of business energy solutions at E.ON, said: “Consumers are demanding more and more from their hotels who are in turn having to use more energy to accommodate for the rising use of technology. It is therefore more important than ever that hotels stay on top of their energy use and monitor growing consumption.” 

The findings have prompted E.ON to suggest that hotel owners consider these new found guest preferences, as well as new energy saving measures, when refurbishing their premises, usually carried out every 7-10 years.

Independent research conducted by the Carbon Trust in 2012 and revised last year found that some hospitality businesses have seen energy costs reduce by as much as 40% if energy efficiency opportunities are maximised during refurbishment.

Gilbert added: “The changes in travelling habits and the demands of guests will have a significant impact on hotels both small and large – not just from their impact on energy consumption, it’s also something to bear in mind when renovating your accommodation.

“As well as changes to the infrastructure, hotel owners and managers consider ways of how to incentivise their guests to keep their energy use down, and to ensure their energy systems are as efficient as possible.”

In addition, E.ON also found that half of travellers would be willing to adopt environmentally friendly behaviours such as having their lights and electricity on stand-by in exchange for a 10% discount on their stay. Initiatives designed to help customers lower their energy use, such as an app allowing them to control heating and lighting, could help incentivise them further.

Other measures suggested by E.ON to lower energy costs in the hospitality sector include occupancy linked controls for when a customer is not in their room; time and temperature controls for areas left vacant for long periods of time; and lighting upgrades.

In addition, incorporating renewable energy generation measures would help cut energy bills further. Whitbread recently completed a solar panel installation programme across 88 of its Premier Inn sites in the UK, saving the company around £280,000 a year.

Pat and Anthony Greenwood, owners of Seaflowers Bed & Breakfast in South Devon, implemented a number of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures, including solar panels and an air source heat pump.

“Our guests are impressed by the energy efficiency of our home...we have achieved the highest level of ‘greenness’ on Tripadvisor (Platinum) and it gives us great pleasure to promote our business as sustainable and efficient. On top of that, as we generate more electricity than we use, we are able to sell surplus energy to the grid,” they said.

Gilbert commented: “Cutting down waste, using smart technology to manage buildings and possibly generating their own power are all options for hotels to consider and E.ON can help throughout the whole process from concept to management.”

E.ON recently launched a new energy audit service for its business customers to help them identify how to make savings on their energy bills.

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