Sustainability Matters to Hotel Guests, Staff and The Environment

Installing motion sensors in public areas to save energy.

Providing “always on” digital communication enabling guests to alert housekeeping when they prefer to reuse towels and sheets or have them refreshed.

Eliminating paper from check-in, check-out, and payment processes across a property and its amenities.

These are just a few actions the hotel is taking to become more sustainable. And with 78% of travelers opting for green/eco-friendly accommodations when booking worldwide travel, these are also ways hotels are attracting guests and elevating Return on Experience (ROE).

Let’s take a look at technology’s role in reducing energy consumption and waste while also delighting guests and staff, as well as others “greens” practices hoteliers can adopt.

Technology’s Role in The Proliferation of Sustainability

Hotel technology was originally used to only track water and energy use. Today, hotels, whether a single boutique location or large hotel chain, leverage technology in sustainability reporting, operations, cost-savings, traveler communications, guest experiences and even marketing campaigns.

If you’re already on your journey to make your hotel as sustainable as possible, then you may have already seen the impact technology can have on operations – freeing up your staff to serve up more memorable guest experiences.

Choosing Sustainability Over Luxury

Having high-thread-count linens turned down at night and equipping bathrooms with plush bath robes might signify a luxury hotel brand. However, many of today’s consumers are increasingly choosing hotels that prioritize sustainability over luxury.

According to the Green Hotels Association, sustainability positively impacts a hotel’s bottom line. Using motion-sensor-powered lights, installing fluorescent light bulbs and placing recycling bins in guest rooms and across the property all have a positive impact. Also, consider the luxury of saving energy and money by equipping properties with HVAC smart sensors that know when guests are in or out of their rooms and can heat or cool spaces accordingly. Internet of Things (IoT-based) and artificial intelligence-based solutions provide data and insights to help hotels save close to one-third of traditional energy costs.

Cutting Down on Paper – and Cutting Down Fewer Trees

Another way hotels can go greener is by using hospitality-specific technology to reduce paper use. Despite the reality of consumers using digital technology in their daily lives and the fact that half of all printed documents are thrown away within 24 hours, the demand for paper is expected to double before 2030.

Camelback Resort, located in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains, has invested in hospitality technology enabling the all-season property to eliminate paper in its check-in, waiver and check-out processes – along with digitizing accounts payable (AP) procedures. The document management solution empowers the 453-suite resort staff to go greener by transforming paper records into electronic images.

Reducing paper waste reduces costs for hotels. Camelback Resort uses technology that digitizes all bills, routes them for approvals and electronically captures all notes and comments. Other ways hotel staff can cut down on paper waste include using interactive tablets in on-site restaurants in place of paper menus, presenting electronic dining checks for digital payments and eliminating disposable items such as paper cups.

Even better, a property management system (PMS) that integrates with amenity-booking solutions, spa-management and golf-management technology enables property managers to say no to paper in favor of texting or emailing guests their reservation times. This kind of hotel management software and services solutions can help track guests’ preferences and build guest profiles, providing key background and allowing hotels to anticipate needs and requests. Such information can allow for cost savings and help hotels achieve sustainability goals while also creating loyal guests.

Reducing Water Makes Sense and Saves Cents

Water is a costly necessity every hospitality facility needs to function. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports about 15% of total water use in US commercial and institutional facilities occurs in hotels and other lodging companies. Restrooms, landscaping and laundry are the biggest water-usage culprits. It is reported that a single room can use between 100 and 200 gallons of fresh water per day. As such, this averages out to 36,500 to 73,000 gallons per year.

The EPA also estimates that water-saving measures can reduce a hotel’s operating costs by up to 11%. This could include equipping bathrooms with low-flush toilets and water-saving showerheads and using water-smart landscape practices that decrease the amount of H2O needed for irrigation.

Hotels that strategically weave in small practices to reduce waste experience significant saving opportunities. For example, to reduce laundry loads, hotels are placing signs in rooms asking guests to consider reusing their towels and sheets. Many are also providing digital chat technology that enables guests to inform staff when they are happy to re-use these items or prefer to have them refreshed. Further, many are making considerable changes in their kitchens, bathrooms and even swimming pool maintenance.

Tackling Food Waste Challenges With Tech

Globally, about 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year, and about 40% of that comes from the hospitality industry. The National Restaurant Association reported that, on average, a restaurant loses 4-10% of the food it purchases, making throwing away food equivalent to throwing away money for hotels and resorts.

Additionally, data from the Waste and Resources Action Program (Wrap) estimates that in commercial kitchens, 21% of food waste arises from spoilage, 45% occurs during food preparation and 34% comes from customers’ plates.

As inflation, supply chain challenges and labor issues continue to drive food costs up, many hotels are seeking ways to control expenses and increase the value of their food service investments. Working to reduce food waste can cut a restaurant’s costs by 2-6%. In fact, for every $1 a hospitality operator invests to reduce food loss and waste, they can save about $14 in operating costs.

So, how can you help combat some of these issues and implement food waste solutions?

The answer is simple – an end-to-end food service management software solution that optimizes food costs with real-time data.

Limit the effects of food waste on the environment and commit to cutting costs by implementing a digital inventory management system. Having this tool will inevitably reduce the amount of food waste in your restaurant. By investing in a good software, your platform can be outfitted with the following:

  1. Inventory tracking – Better track spoilage and production of in-house ingredients to get a detailed picture of inventory numbers. Tracking inventory in real-time enables hotel managers to limit food waste and meet needs for excellent customer service and successful food service management.
  2. Category – Ingredient life cycles vary. For example, the lettuce and beef for a signature burger come from different vendors and perish at different rates. They might also vary in consumer demand if beef products are used across more recipes in the hotel restaurant. With granular tracking abilities, hotels can better understand when and how much of an ingredient they must purchase. This is easily done in a food service management software solution and helps hotels stay organized and limit food waste.
  3. Forecasting – The cost of food for meal preparation is the second-largest expense in hotel restaurants. Hotels should ensure their inventory management system complements their food waste environmental impact practices. This could include things like changing the menu to minimize leftovers, implementing food waste recycling and composting, repurposing ingredients, keeping stock organized and donating excess food.

Inventory management software totals the bill automatically so guests can easily checkout and pay with any method supported by the property. It enables food and beverage customers to provide a safe, easy and frictionless experience without extra staff.

By implementing a robust inventory management system with the right partner and living by the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – hotels can become advocates of sustainability as well as increase profits through less food waste costs.

Aiming for Zero Waste in a Zero-Disappointment Industry

Hotels are in a zero-disappointment industry. If a guest engages in 10 experiences – nine of which exceed expectations while the tenth disappoints – guess which will appear on social media review sites and TripAdvisor or come up in conversations about that brand?

Hotels are a long way from zero waste but can get closer to zero disappointment by making sustainability a higher priority.

Imagine the hotel industry reaching zero food waste. Seem impossible? The Rockefeller Foundation, World Wildlife Fund and the American Hotel Association joined forces to evaluate and reduce food waste in hotels. The result of their effort in 10 projects at major properties was up to 38% reduction in wasted food in 12 weeks. Those properties included Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott International. If scaled across the entire industry, the practices applied in this joint effort could eliminate half a million tons of food waste in a year.

Why not try a food-waste composting program or partner with local homeless shelters to donate food?

Going Greener Improves The Overall Lodging Experience

Hotels’ sustainability efforts matter, and guests increasingly expect to see green initiatives in action. Incorporating smart practices into all operations not only adds to guests’ overall experience but cuts major costs significantly.

Hotel operators, guests and staff members collectively win – along with the environment – when efforts to clear the zero-disappointment bar include eco-friendly technology and practices.

Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from

About Agilysys

Agilysys is well known for its long heritage of hospitality-focused technology innovation. The Company delivers modular and integrated software solutions and expertise to businesses seeking to maximize Return on Experience (ROE) through hospitality encounters that are both personal and profitable. Over time, customers achieve High Return Hospitality by consistently delighting guests, retaining staff and growing margins. Customers around the world include: branded and independent hotels; multi-amenity resort properties; casinos; property, hotel and resort management companies; cruise lines; corporate dining providers; higher education campus dining providers; food service management companies; hospitals; lifestyle communities; senior living facilities; stadiums; and theme parks. The Agilysys Hospitality Cloud™ combines core operational systems for property management (PMS), point of sale (POS) and inventory and procurement (I&P) with Experience Enhancers™ that significantly improve interactions for guests and for employees across dimensions such as digital access, mobile convenience, self-service control, personal choice, payment options, service coverage and real-time insights to improve decisions. Core solutions and Experience Enhancers are selectively combined in Hospitality Solution Studios™ tailored to specific hospitality settings and business needs. Agilysys operates across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and India with headquarters located in Alpharetta, GA. For more information visit

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