Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Hotels leave consumers out of ecology benefits

This is the second hotel I've stayed at which has asked me to help them save the planet by letting them do less laundry. They want me to let them skip changing the bed linens and towels for a couple of days during my stay. It's a good idea, and I hope more hotels adopt it.

At the same time, I'm disappointed because I don't feel that environmental consciousness is driving these programs. Maybe I'm just too cynical, but this smacks of the profit motive at work. I have a suggestion for hotels that would show that I'm wrong about that, and possibly benefit them as well.

The Hyatt's doorknob hanger message reads in part:

Did you know that linens and towels washed daily by hotels worldwide use millions of gallons of fresh water and add tons of detergents to our environment?

As part of Hyatt's ongoing commitment to improving the environment by using less energy and creating less waste, we offer a solution. During your stay, we will change bed linens and towels every three days, while still refreshing your guestroom daily. If you do not wish to participate in this program, please contact guest [relations] or the hotel operator and your linens and towels will be replaced daily.

Ok, no one can object to this, can they? I think it's a good idea, for the reasons given. At the same time, look at the savings to the hotel itself. Not only do they save the cost of hot water and detergents, but they pocket a large saving in labor. It takes time to strip and make up a bed each day. And think of all the pillows that must be taken out of their pillowcases and stuffed into fresh ones. There is less transportation and storage of the linens, plus less wear and tear due to fewer laundry cycles. I'll bet the savings to the hotel are significant, and of course, this adds to the profitability of the chain and augments the already obscenely large salaries of its executives.

So I suggest this: pass the profits on to the consumer. Yes, give a meaningful discount to guests who choose to participate in the program. After all, your profit is at our expense. We should share in the savings brought about by the change in our behavior, that is, by sacrificing the daily change in linens in order to "save the planet."

The rack rate for the room I'm in is $500. Not that anyone ever pays that for the room (I think they're going to bill around $300 for it). So why not give back some of that outrageous charge if guests play along? That might encourage more people to stay at the hotel, leading to even better executive salaries.

There is nothing that will make consumers use alternative energy or undertake conservation programs on a large scale unless they can also save money at it. So how about it, Hyatts of the world, why not give us a discount, kick your ecology program up a notch, and at the same time improve your bottom line?


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