Analysis - April 16, 2015



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April 2015


Print Marketing , Sustainable tourism,

Green marketing in hotels shows increased guest satisfaction

Due to environmental impacts, multiple studies have outlined the need for sustainability within hospitality sector. Waste and water bills account for between 15-20% of operation costs of hotels and approximately 1.8 kg of waste is generated per guest room night.

 The Business Case for greening

The idea of implementing sustainability methods into a business has become increasingly a common practice amongst businesses and ‘greening’ has become a major brand differentiators that many businesses are acting upon in order to stand out amongst their competitors (Areseculeratne & Yazdanifard, 2014).



This is also true among the hotel sector globally. ‘Greening’ is understood to mean increasing overall environmental performance by reducing waste, water and energy. Additionally, the consumer is interested in green hotels. A survey of more than 700 U.S travelers conducted by TripAdvisor (2012), suggested that 71 percent of the respondents planned to make eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months while, 65 percent did so in the 12 month period preceding the survey. Additionally a study done by Mensah and Mensah (2013), found that the majority of consumers surveyed was more likely to book with a hotel that has a responsible environmental attitude. They also found that the majority of tourists have a positive attitude towards environmental management by hotels.

What is unknown however is if the marketing of such environmental practices actually benefits the hotels.

But does green marketing help the bottom line?

In a study conducted by Franco et al, (2014) at Ryerson University, researchers found that 76 % of boutique hotels said that green marketing had a positive impact on their business in general. Additionally 88% of accommodations felt that green practices were ‘Important or Very Important” for their success. Accommodations, however, do not track how much they specifically spend on marketing their ‘green’ achievements (49% could not give an exact figure).

In order to analyze if there were any impacts or more specifically, any benefits from green marketing, the accommodations were asked to rate how green marketing has impacted their business in general. There was a statistical significance when comparing the allocation of revenue to marketing and guest satisfaction (p value =0.014). Additionally, accommodations saw a positive impact when they allocated revenue towards green marketing (p value = 0.05). There was also no significant specific benefit to increased average daily rate (ADR), profit or length of stay as there was no correlation between these factors.

When examining actual practices, the most common environmental practices included water and energy efficient methods where 87 percent of the respondents have applied water efficient showerheads in each guest bathroom, 90 percent had a linen reuse program and 66 percent of respondents have efficient heating/air conditioning systems. More advanced green practices were not as well implemented as only 50% of hotels track their actual water use and only 7% of respondents used solar panels.

Interestingly, hotels did not necessarily obtain certifications to promote their environmental practices. Sixty percent of accommodations claimed they had obtained some sort of green certification that included such labels as LEED, ISO, Green Key, Green Globe or Green Seal.

The main barriers or impediments to implementing green practices were financial (45%) or motivating employees to follow practices (25%). 

Save money and boost reputation

The recent study by Franco et al (2014) shows that it is evident that there is a positive impact when accommodations allocate a percentage of revenue towards green marketing. It supports the notion that if society has a vested interest in environmental issues, it can lead many businesses, including hotels to change their practices (Hu, 2012). Will green marketing alone push industry to improve their ‘greeness’? Perhaps not although this recent research is positive. What is not disputed however is that accommodations can save large amounts of money in costs as well as boost their reputation in the marketplace by monitoring how they are impacting the environment.


Rachel Dodds

Professor, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ryerson University

Rachel Dodds is recognized around the world as an expert on sustainable tourism. She is professor at the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University and Direct[...]Lire plusor of Sustaining Tourism consulting firm. She is the author of the books "Power and Politics" and "Sustainable Tourism in Islands". Her fields of expertise focus on sustainable tourism, climate changes and social responsibility firms. She holds a Ph.d. from the University of Surrey in England and a master's degree in tourism management at Griffith University in Australia. She is a founding member of the Canada's Icarus Foundation, participated in the Sustainability Council for the Tourism Industry Association and is former member of the Travel and Tourism Research Association of Canada. She has lived and worked on four continents and traveled in more than 75 countries

Institution's website :


- Arseculeratne, D., & Yazdanifard, R. (2014). How green marketing can create a sustainable competitive advantage for a business. International Business Research, 7(1), 130-137.

- Franco, J.C.; Grewal, J.; Hoang, E.; Lee, J. (2014) Analyzing the Marketing of Environmental Practices in Boutique Hotels in the USA, Ryerson University, Toronto

- Hu, H. (2012). The effectiveness of environmental advertising in the hotel industry. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 53(2), 154-164.

- Mensah, I., & Mensah, R. D. (2013). International tourists' environmental attitude towards hotels in Accra. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 3(5), 444-455.

TripAdvisor (2012). Survey reveals travelers going greener

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