Green Hotels Are Leading The Pack On TripAdvisor
This year, TripAdvisor TRIP +1.68% announced the “10 highest-rated TripAdvisor GreenLeaders hotels” in the U.S. and, at the same time, published the results of its eco-travel survey of more than 2,100 people. According to the survey, almost 25% of Americans are consciously trying to make eco-friendly choices when it comes to their hotel stays (including turning off the A/C before leaving the room and participating in the increasingly common hotel linen/towel re-use programs).
Selecting a green property is a great way to decrease the overall impact of travel. TripAdvisor’s program is two-pronged: they are educating consumers to make eco-friendly choices, and encouraging hotels to be more eco-minded.
I caught up with Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel for TripAdvisor to learn more about the program and what they learned.
Bardessono in CA is LEED Platinum Certified and tops the TripAdvisor green travel list (Image: Bardessono.com)
Kate Harrison: Why did TA decide to focus on green properties? Why do you think green destinations matter?
Jenny Rushmore: Our aim is to help travelers around the world plan greener trips by highlighting accommodations that are engaging in environmentally friendly practices.
We know many travelers want to stay green, but may find it hard to access the right information to make an informed decision. Our emphasis is on providing them with a simple way to see and provide feedback on a list of eco-friendly “best practices” employed by various accommodations.
Harrison: What criteria did you use to rank the properties?
Rushmore: To qualify as a GreenLeader, hotels and B&Bs must achieve a minimum score on the application survey. GreenLeader properties are then eligible for one of our four badge levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Badge levels are determined by a property’s overall level of participation in environmentally friendly activities. For example, a GreenLeader Platinum property must meet minimum requirements and achieve a 60 percent score or higher on the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders survey.
Each application is assessed against a holistic set of environmental criteria — including practices linen and towel re-use programs, recycling and composting, solar panels, electric car charging stations, and green roofing.
The more green practices a hotel or B&B has in place, the higher the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders level it can achieve.
Harrison: How has this list been received?
Rushmore: TripAdvisor GreenLeaders has been very well received. The program first launched in the U.S. in April 2013, and — following rapid growth — we expanded the program to Europe and Canada this year.
To date, TripAdvisor has awarded over 4,000 U.S. accommodations with the TripAdvisor Green Leaders status, making it the largest green hotels program in the U.S.
Harrison: How much consumer demand are you seeing for green properties?
Rushmore: Since the program launch in April 2013, we’ve seen very interesting trends:
· Users have searched for green properties over 200,000 times;
· More than 20,000 eco-friendly comments have been submitted by TripAdvisor reviewers;
· And we see a 20% higher rating for properties with TripAdvisor Green Leader status
Harrison: Do you think all properties should try to go green? If so, why?
Rushmore: TripAdvisor encourages sustainable travel. Green programs are increasingly becoming standard practice for hotels, as more and more travelers have come to expect hotels to adopt eco-friendly initiatives. According to a TripAdvisor survey, 81 percent of travelers place importance on properties implementing eco-friendly practices, and 88 percent of U.S. hoteliers indicate that they currently have some green practices in place. We expect green practices to become as commonplace as free Wifi in the near future.
Harrison: What advice would you give to a property that wants to start this process? What matters most to consumers?
Rushmore: Hotel and B&B owners stand to gain a real competitive edge by promoting their environmentally friendly business practices as more and more travelers consider eco-friendly practices to be important in their travel choices. Hotels that are just starting out should begin by tracking their utilities: if you don’t know how much energy and water you’re using, and how much waste you’re generating, it’s hard to set goals or implement plans to reduce your footprint. It’s strategic to look for easy opportunities to reduce: implement a towel and inens re-use program, recycle more (it’s actually cheaper than garbage haulage for many hotels), train staff to identify and fix leaking faucets and running toilets. The TripAdvisor Green Leaders survey has lots ofgreat ideas for how hotels can save money and promote eco-tourism by reducing their environmental impact.
Harrison: What are some things that hoteliers might not have considered?
Rushmore: We’re seeing all sorts of innovations at hotels including growing organic food on their site, having electric car charging stations, and even keeping bees on their rooftops to help address bee colony collapse disorder. There are also properties with green roofs and planted walls, and many facilities are helping to educate their guests about local wildlife and biodiversity.
Seeking out an eco-friendly accommodation is good for the environment, and travelers find their adventures more enjoyable when they make greener choices. Hotels have a lot to gain by going green.