Monday, 19 April 2010

Pedalling CSR to the masses

I heard about a great initiative this morning. The Crowne Plaza in Denmark is giving guests the chance to cycle their way to a free meal. The hotel has installed "two exercise bicycles hooked up to generators, so that when people start pedaling, they can produce some electrcity."

"Anyone producing 10 watt hours of electricity or more for the hotel will be given a locally produced complimentary meal encouraging guests to not only get fit but also reduce their carbon footprint and save electricity and money"
This is one of the most interesting initiatives I have heard about in a long time and I think it's great. Great innovation in corporate social responsibility. Not only can guests be encouraged to get fit, but it also directly links them and their actions to green issues and actively involves them in environmentally responsible activities. Though there are quite a few hotels which have green initiatives, how many of their guests actually support these? For example, show of hands, now:  Do you read the cards behind your bathroom door about the hotel's recycle/re-use policy when it comes to towels? How many of you actually know that a towel on the rack means you plan to use it again, and a towel on the floor or in the tub means that you would like fresh towels?

But, on the flip side,  how many of you actually take the time to hang your towel, and then the housekeeper changes it anyway? I cannot tell you how many times I have hung my towel up, with plans to use it again, and come back to my room and there are fresh towels waiting for me. I mean, sure we love fresh towels, but I don't change my towels at home after one use, and clearly there is no understanding or buy-in of the policy from staff.

And some people take vacation to the max. It's almost as though they go on vacation and their "green-ness", if they had any in the first place, goes on vacation too. Guests go out and leave the hotel room like a virtual disco ball, with all the lights on, the tv or radio on.

I like the innovation of this new green initiative. In the interview, the spokesperson for the hotel mentioned that the actual energy generated from the cycling does not really cover the cost of the meal, so the hotel in effect is not saving any money. But the impact it leaves is invaluable. I mean, it's fantastic for the hotel's CSR brand and shows they are willing to go the extra mile to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint. It also gives them something unique and creative to market, and for green-minded guests, it's a great selling proposition. It serves as an opportunity to sensitise guests to environmental issues. Guests can understand how much human energy it takes to power up a light bulb, or how their indifference can affect not only operations costs, but the environment. And the initiative gives these guests the chance to make a tangible contribution to conservation, totally independent of hotel staff who may not support or who may have no clue as to policies and initiatives (shame on you, housekeeping!)

I would probably be one of those who would take a go on the "power" bikes (once I am properly padded cause biking is not fun on the bum), because I usually try to work out on vacation anyway, and I know someone is going to take my towel against my wishes. The free meal is really to me, a bonus. So good job, Crowne Plaza!

What's the best green initiative you have come across on your business or pleasure hotel stays?


I too always hang up my towel (mainly becasue I can't bear to throw it on the floor), yet in just about every business hotel in which I stay, they get changed anyway. A very useful green initiative for me at hotels is when the room power operates with the card key. This has two main benefits, save electricity when I am not in the room and allows me to find me card key when I am ready to leave

I also appreciate the "power" key because the a/c does not need to be on when I am not in the room.

I think maybe once or twice housekeeping in a hotel has left a towel I have carefully left hanging. And those that say they change sheets every 3 days...well that initiative may be more likely since it's harder work to change the sheets.
And then you have those places, like last week, housekeeping not only left the towel hanging, but also the one scrunched up on the ledge in the bathtub without leaving additional fresh towels. maybe they were going to come back...

been reading through your blog today, though I would finally comment and say I have been enjoying it.

Thank you very much Chennette.

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