This week, Senior Editor Mark Rogers is attending the two-day Green Travel Summit at the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach, CA. The event is the first fully dedicated forum focused on exploring green travel strategies and their impact on business travel and corporate meetings.
Guido Bauer, vice president of global sales for Green Globe Intl. inc,; Michelle Heston, regional director of public relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; and Jake Kheel, ambient/environmental director, Puntacana Resort & club at the Green Travel Summit
Throughout both days of the Green Travel Summit, there was tremendous enthusiasm and good will surrounding the concept of responsible and sustainable travel. But as the hours passed, I began to hear such comments as, “Whatever you say, don’t use the word eco-friendly. It’s worn out.” On the second day, “green fatigue” became a major topic of discussion.
During the “Experts Panel Rapid Fire Shootout: from Strategy to ROI” panel, Stephen Stokes, vice president of sustainability and green travel technologies for AMR Research, posed the question, “How do we get the message out that adopting green policies may cost more? If we over push the green bubble, it may burst. There’s already evidence of some green fatigue.”
During the panel’s Q&A, Guido Bauer, vice president of global sales for Green Globe Intl. Inc, took the mike and said, “The essential question you need to ask is, “How much is green going to make us? If I have a green meeting, will I make more money? Will more people come? If we can’t answer that question, investments will go away and we’ll see enormous green fatigue.”
At the coffee break immediately following the panel, I talked further with Bauer. “The way things are now, hotels have to save money on the back end, since they’re cutting room prices.”
Bauer carried this theme further when he sat on the “Greening of Hotels and Venues” panel.
Green Globe’s certification program is highly respected and is almost synonymous with the environmental benchmarking of hotels – especially in the Caribbean, although the company has expanded to having members in 51 countries, the latest being Estonia, where four hotels are going through the certification process. “On average our Green Globe certified hotels save a phenomenal $20 per guest – some save more, some save less,” said Bauer. He went on to say that the average cost of Green Globe certification for a 120-room hotel is $3,500.
“Green Globe is a for-profit company,” said Bauer. “We certify hotels, attractions, destinations, businesses, golf courses and restaurants. We have independent auditors – they owe us nothing. If a green certification company comes to you and they have their own auditors, shake their hand and say goodbye – because if you use them you’ll have no credibility.”
“To be sustainable you need to make a profit,” said Bauer.
Maybe that’s the final word on green fatigue. Bolster the bottom line and fatigue goes out the window.