How many times have you visited a hotel and turned up the heat or air conditioning just because you could? It’s not your house and you’re not paying the bill. If you have to stay away from home, you might as well be comfortable, right?
This scenario happens a lot and the data backs it up. In fact, hotels consume an enormous amount of energy; 50 percent more than similar sized residential buildings, despite having only about a 65 percent occupancy rate on average.
Key drivers of the energy management trend
Because of this, and rising electricity costs – many hotels, especially mid-range properties, are rightfully focusing their attention to energy management to save money and reap a return on investment.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, there are other issues driving the trend. For luxury properties, the focus is much more on guest satisfaction, rather than simply saving money. Guests at luxury hotels have higher expectations, and for many, energy management has become a social motivator. Often, these consumers make “green” choices at home, so they value an “eco-friendly” hotel. Another component driving the trend is the increased adoption of “smart home” technologies. If consumers can turn down their home’s lights or thermostat with a flick of their smartphone, they expect to be able to do the same when they travel.
Attributed to these motivators, we’re seeing hotels all across the spectrum adopting smart energy management solutions, but it can be costly to retrofit old systems and downtime is often not an option. That’s why it’s important to be discerning when choosing systems. Hoteliers should look for modern, wireless solutions that pay for themselves. In addition, as no one knows what the industry’s problems will be in five or ten years, it’s crucial to invest in a scalable system that upgrades itself to address the problems of the future.
When effectively balanced, hotels can deliver top-notch service, please today’s eco-conscious customer and reap the benefits of a smaller carbon footprint. They key to that balance? Control.
Finding your balance
Traditionally, it has been up to the guest to shut off their lights and turn their AC to the optimal temperature. With effective, modern technology, hotels – and guests – can supervise and implement eco-friendly efforts with little more than the tap of a tablet – incredibly easy for staff, perfectly unnoticeable for guests.
With the advent of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), hotels can leverage technology that tracks temperature, room occupancy and more from any web based device and adjust as needed in real time. This translates into a huge win for properties. Due to IoT, energy controls, like thermostats and sensors that have typically been commoditized are now interconnected with other systems and provide valuable data back to the hotelier.
Armed with this data, hoteliers can make the shifts that save massive amount of energy and money. If hotel staff sees a block of rooms that are unoccupied with the AC turned up, IoT solutions enable them to turn the cooling off with the flick of a tablet. They can also save time and resources. For example, IoT solutions enable hotels to maintain systems without costly service calls, empower staff to diagnose and correct potential problems remotely, and minimize any disruptions to the guest without engineers scrambling to run from room-to-room.
This means that hotels can be completely in charge of their own energy – and financial – output without compromising any part of a guest’s experience. It’s the technology that makes this all happen, however. Left to guest monitoring, new light bulbs or thermostats won’t translate into remarkable ROIs on their own.
Also, the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) adds a layer of precision for energy management from both the guest and hotelier perspective. With BYOD devices, control of the in-room environment is in the guest’s hands. BYOD allows the guest to download an application on their personal mobile device and control their room for the duration of their stay. This can be systematically driven with integration into the property management system or manually entered via the front desk.
LEEDing the way to guest satisfaction
The idea of eco-friendly hotels is not exactly new, but one that is rapidly spreading. Given the notoriety that tends to follow them, LEED certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, have become a hot commodity for hotels.
It is no surprise that LEED certification helps cut operating costs for hotels, but recent studies also suggest that LEED improves RevPAR. According to Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research, LEED-certified hotels obtain superior financial performance compared to their non-certified competitors for at least the first two years after certification.
Achieving LEED certification not only saves dollars, but also makes a favorable impression on environmentally-conscious customers. According to a 2012 TripAdvisor survey, almost 60% of travelers make eco-friendly choices when booking hotels and 50% say they are willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly location.
For hoteliers interested in securing LEED certification, the technologies described above make it easier to tackle.
It is clear that the ‘green’ trend for hotels is here to stay and new energy management technology is making it happen. For hoteliers this is an opportunity not only to save money but also to foster the kind of attention to detail that breeds customer loyalty.
About the author
Chris Pieper is the Senior Director, Marketing, Strategy and Sales Operations at Evolve Controls. He is a resourceful, strategic, and passionate business executive specializing in business development, marketing, financial analysis & modeling, and IoT technologies.