Energy giant E.ON surveyed 2,000 people to find out how highly they regard sustainability when they’re away from home. Their report suggests that boutique hotels and B&Bs can win customers by promoting sustainable practices.
E.ON found that almost one in five would be more likely to stay in or recommend a B&B or boutique hotel if it used renewable energy sources such as solar panels (19%), while similar numbers would be swayed by knowing the hotel used energy efficient measures such as low energy lighting (17%).
Half of guests say that the sustainability and energy use of a hotel is important to them. One in ten want their accommodation to have smart thermostats in the room so they can monitor their energy usage, while a similar number want recycled water system.
The research also found that half of hotel guests would be willing to be an ‘eco-customer’ if they got a ten per cent discount for adopting environmentally friendly behaviours such as using a single towel during their stay, having their lights and electricity on stand-by, and using a limited supply for hot water.
Almost a third of guests go so far as to say that hotels should be judged on how sustainable they are, with an accreditation system to rank their sustainability.
However, with a third of people admitting to use more energy than they would at home, boutiques may need to think about how to incentivise their guests to keep their energy use down, as well as ensuring their own energy systems are as efficient as possible.
Pat and Anthony Greenwood, owners of a luxury B&B in South Devon implemented a number of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures, including solar panels and an air source heat pump, to be sustainable.
They said: “Being purpose-built we were fortunate to be able to take advantage of the latest technology and building practice to ensure maximum efficiency and sustainability.
“Our guests are impressed by the energy efficiency of our home and frequently comment on our policies of using locally sourced ingredients, our own eggs, fruit and home-made bread for breakfasts. 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.”
Most hospitality businesses refurbish every 7–10 years and this provides a significant opportunity to implement these changing guest preferences as well as adapting for energy savings. According to the Carbon Trust, some hospitality businesses have seen energy costs reduce by as much as 40 per cent if energy efficiency opportunities are maximised during refurbishment.
Phil Gilbert, Head of Business Energy Solutions at E.ON, said: “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 can 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.
“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 has developed an online Energy Toolkit which helps businesses of all sizes track and adapt their energy use through reports and alerts. It can also provide Business Energy Management systems which show real-time consumption of electricity and gas in your premises at any point in time and connects to technology like wireless smart plugs and to help power down non-essential power use out of hours. Find out more here.