Talking Point: Where does water sit in the battle between CSR and profit?

Can hotels find new ways to reduce their water consumption?

Can hotels find new ways to reduce their water consumption?

It’s World Water Day tomorrow. In this Talking Point, Stephen Charles, Managing Director of Vivreau argues that for many hoteliers, reducing carbon footprint is a big part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans, but maintaining profitability will always come first. How can they create a balance?

The smart hotelier has figured out that being properly responsible can reap long term rewards and improve profitability. Water should be an important consideration in these plans and many hotels are doing a lot to reduce water consumption in their bathrooms, in their laundry processes and their housekeeping practices.

But water and carbon footprint are linked and more hoteliers should consider the way that drinking water is made available to guests in their properties.

Not only is water transported by road, creating congestion and pollution, but there is also the issue surrounding glass and plastic packaging waste. Although recycling facilities are available, re-using will always be more efficient than recycling and will provide an immediate and dramatic impact on carbon footprint.

There is an obvious solution to this problem, with the use of ‘free’ tap water. But, as all hotel owners and managers will be aware, tap water is far from ‘free’ once quarterly water bills are considered. Saving water is becoming even more important for today’s hotelier with increased environmental responsibilities and financial challenges.

One of the solutions developed by Vivreau is a mains-fed Table Water Bottling System. A key objective is reducing water miles in the hotel industry. The bottling system dispenses unlimited quantities of purified filtered chilled still and sparkling water in-house, that can be served in reusable glass bottles.

The unique, British made Bottling System is ideally suited to hotels and is one choice for hoteliers looking to cut their carbon footprint with an environmental and sustainable option.

It is also profitable. When presented with the choice of tap water or our high quality, filtered water for a nominal amount, customers will almost always opt for the latter. The system should pay for itself in a very short period, resulting in a profitable alternative to tap water, happy customers and a reduced carbon footprint. We think it’s a no-brainer.

Russell Jeffrey, owner of The Wellington Inn told us how the system helped him to recover lost profits. “We previously gave diners complimentary jugs of water throughout dinner, but were intrigued by the profit potential of the Vivreau Table Water Bottling System to counteract the rising costs associated with running a public house today. It would help us if we were able to charge for water provision, however, we were very conscious that the customer needed to be happy with the new arrangement. So, we ran a 12-week trial, where we offered in-house bottled water for which we charged, however we gave refills for free.”

Customers at The Wellington Inn now receive a chilled bottle of still and sparkling filtered water on the table instead of a jug of tap water. Now serving over 200 bottles of Vivreau water a week, Russell has gained an additional income of around £6,000 per annum.

For hoteliers, the extra revenue could be used to invest in water-saving devices like aerators or low-flow taps to cut water consumption in bathrooms without impacting guest experience.

In addition, the designer glass bottles provide the opportunity to sell own-brand bottled water, displaying a clear carbon footprint message. This allows hoteliers to strengthen brand awareness and reinforce green behaviours with the guests, whilst replacing environmentally-unfriendly bought-in bottled water.

Leading the way for environmentally friendly initiatives is San Francisco, having just passed a new law to ban the use of single use plastic bottles in the city. This emerging trend is already in practise in many national parks including the Grand Canyon and could be heading to the UK.

We think utilising own-branded, freshly filtered bottled drinking water will stand in high regard with customers and alongside environmental responsibility messaging will only serve to increase customer satisfaction.

The bottles come with a specially designed bottle washing tray, which means they can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher ready for their next use. This reduces the ‘water miles’ associated with sourcing water and means that the amount of waste created by either plastic or glass bottles can be eradicated. These two factors combined can significantly reduce a hotel’s carbon footprint and encourage long term sustainability.

We’ve developed these innovative solutions to encourage sustainable water sourcing, with sophisticated products that look great on any hotel bedside or dining table.

Hoteliers looking for more advice on water savings to be made around the property can search Green Hotelier resources and also download our free Know How Guide: Water Management and Responsibility in Hotels.

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