Talking Point: How can hotels reduce energy but not customer satisfaction?

Hotels can use tech analysis to monitor energy consumption

Hotels can use tech analysis to monitor energy consumption

Ankur Thareja, Senior Consultant and Thanakarthik Kumar Karuppasamy, Consultant for Energy Solutions, Wipro EcoEnergy ask how can hotels cut back on room energy without compromising guest experience?

According to research from the International Tourism Partnership, the hotel sector accounts for approximately 1% of global carbon emissions. For hotels of all shapes and sizes, there is a balance to be struck between increasing energy efficiency, reducing the environmental impact of the infrastructure, and ensuring the satisfaction of customers.

Guest satisfaction is a non-negotiable factor for hotels. What is often forgotten is that top quality service that translates into high customer satisfaction incorporates all aspects of a guest’s stay including factors like room temperature, adequate lighting, and water temperature. These factors are not often listed on booking sites – that is until they go wrong or disrupt a guest’s stay enjoyable stay.

The challenge

So what can hotels do? For many, reducing energy consumption is not just a matter of ensuring operational costs don’t spiral out of control; it is increasingly a matter of social responsibility – particularly for those large chains that are under greater public scrutiny. It’s clear that striking a balance between customer satisfaction and reducing energy consumption through the adoption of more eco-friendly operations is of the utmost importance. What’s the best way to achieve both?

Where to start?

The first step is to assess their energy consumption; how energy efficient the property is and where there is room for improvement. Hotels and hotel groups can start this process themselves. For example the International Tourism Partnership and World Travel and Tourism Council have created the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative methodology and tool to enable hotels to measure and report on their carbon emissions.

Once this has been assessed hotels can start to look at how they can actively employ solutions to become more energy efficient and sustainable, whilst maintaining the high levels of quality their guests expect.

Some hotels might look to alternative energy solutions. Combined heat and power (CHP) options can be a more efficient way of producing heat for hotels from their own power generators. Some utilise more environmentally friendly fuels like biomass. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are another option.

Technology & Analytics based solutions

As with many other industries, new technology systems are increasingly being used by the hotel industry. One solution that enables energy efficiency with low capital investment is through the implementation of Building Management Systems, Property Management Systems, Guest Room Controls and Energy Monitoring Systems. These allow hotels to monitor and gather data quickly and easily, helping them to make day-to-day operations decisions based on quantitative analysis that reduces their overall energy usage but doesn’t impact on guest experience.

These systems work by monitoring and controlling everything across the hotel infrastructure. From lights and HVAC equipment in guest rooms to the boilers/chiller in the plant room, they work by optimising all energy consuming operations, striking a balance between minimising energy consumption while maintaining the right levels of lighting, heating, cooling and water temperature to keep guests happy. These monitoring systems produce a multitude of functions including detecting breakdowns and end-of-life wear, reducing energy leaks, identifying inefficiencies and integrating all information with wider business systems and information such as annual energy cost forecasts, operational deviation reports and reservation information.

Key to all of this is ensuring that the monitoring technologies are properly coupled with analytics capabilities, otherwise hotel operators will find themselves in a “data rich and information poor” environment. Understanding and processing the information might be beyond the capabilities of even the most tech-savvy GM or engineer. Holding huge quantities of data on aspects like individual room temperatures is no use unless they can be analysed alongside other data to identify patterns. Patterns can then translate into insights that can be used to make operational decisions to the benefit of enhanced energy effectiveness. Technology integration coupled with a Big Data analytics can save 7%-12% of a hotel’s energy spend. For a hotel with a $700k energy spend this is equivalent to the bottom-line generated by a 1-2% occupancy increase.

While the adoption of such technology systems can sound complicated and daunting - particularly for individual hotels rather than larger chains - it is reassuring to know that the advent of cloud technology and high speed internet connections means that often much of the monitoring and analysis can be outsourced to a service provider, meaning hotels can concentrate on what they do best; providing outstanding customer service to their guests.

For more information on these options, visit the Wipro  EcoEnergy website.

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