I had the privilege to moderate a panel discussion about CSR and Hotels for the British Chamber of Commerce recently. The panelists were Alex Mavro, Co-Founder of the Corporate Responsibility & Ethics Association (CREATE) for Thai Enterprise, CSR Consultant & Educator, Debdyuti Dasgupta who is also the Cluster Director of Finance of JW Marriott Hotel, Renaissance Resort and Spa Koh Samui and Courtyard Bangkok by Marriott, Geoffrey Fordham, Senior Vice President of Engineering, Safety and Security for Onyx Hospitality Group and Simon Ramsay, General Manager, Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit.

You can view the discussion here: https://youtu.be/wDbOLGUt-YI

Hotels try to encourage guests to reuse the towels in their room, but a lot of them fail to do so because of several reasons.  Primarily, there isn’t enough towel room to hang your used towels, secondly there are always guests who aren’t aware of the impact they are making to the environment by not reusing the towel.

Alex Mavro mentioned that instead of using a card saying that you could help save water by reuse your towel, his study found that if you put a sign saying ‘35% of guests have helped the environment by reusing towel’ it rendered a better result because people want to be involved in a good cause. And then there is me, standing in the bathroom, wet, and throwing a towel on the floor, not knowing if there will be a dry one there in time for me when I come back to my room.

Another big waste we see from hotels is from the buffet. You can’t prevent guests from not eating, but you should do all you can to encourage guests to eat everything that they have put on their plate. Simon Ramsay, said there is nothing you can do with leftover food especially once you have attained your ISO standard, as due to hygiene standards, you cannot  give food to the underprivileged the way the standards exist at the moment. You can only encourage guests not to waste food. But, how can you do that? I suggested my diet method of smaller plates, which make you eat less, but the hoteliers didn’t seem to think it would work. One of the audience backed them up, mentioning his disdain for the tiny glasses at the breakfast buffet – so small that he needs to stand by the juice station refilling several times, gulping his drink down at the station so as to avoid having to keep coming back for more.

Another issue that I raised with the panel was that of the need to charge electronic devices in my room while I am not in the room. Sadly, very often, the only way to do this is to put an extra key in the slot to keep the electricity on when I am out of the room, which means that rather than only using a small amount of energy to charge my devices, the AC stays on, draining very large amounts of energy. Geoffrey Fordham, mentioned that there is a new technology that makes a room ‘energy-smart’, where it will sense whether or not a guest is in the room through a combination of motion sensors and key-card transactions, and cut the AC off when there is nobody in the room, however still allowing guests to keep their devices charging while they’re out.  Some Onyx properties are already implementing this technology, and from tests they have carried out, the energy savings look like warranting making this a standard in all properties in the future.  

Another area that Geoffrey said they were focusing on is through harvesting clean water through condensation from a property’s AC units.  Where in the past, AC condensation had been thought of as a problem, and much of the water that resulted from condensation would go straight down the drain, now technology allows clean water to be harvested that has minerals put back in and then used within the property.  

Your CSR efforts shouldn’t be relying on the cooperation of your guests alone. Staff training should be implemented and technology should be leveraged. You can’t count on guests – the implementation of your policy starts with you!

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