3 steps to create a positive sustainability experience for your guests and get closer to your targets

How would you feel if a recent guest wrote a positive review about their hotel stay and raved about the sustainability touches in the room?

When you involve guests in sustainability, the benefits are not only about sustainability. We’ve found that a “sustainable” room including circular furniture, inspirational green elements, and catchy innovations to save water lead to guests being 55% more enthusiastic about the room compared to an average room!

Want to get started right away? Here are 3 simple steps to start changing guest behavior—all the while making it an even more positive experience for their guests.

First things first: Know your guests

Let’s say you want to get started with a couple of high-impact ideas around the hotel and can’t decide between a waste intervention, such as adding recycling bins to all hotel floors, or a shower nudge, to get guests out of shower quicker to save water and energy.

Do you have a hunch as to which intervention your guests would be happy to participate in? Rather than assuming, ask them! A simple 30-second survey gives you the answers you need to get moving quickly, and most importantly, in the right direction.

The behavioral intervention you choose should be something that your guests want to engage in, too. Knowing simple demographics, preferences, and lengths of stays are great ways to decide which behavioral insights to use. Once you have these, you can decide whether using social norm messaging, such as “7/10 guests in this hotel room shower for under 5 minutes” or a self-serving message “the shorter the shower, the softer the skin!” would work best.

Go EAST

Thanks to behavioral research by The Behavioral Insights Team, there’s an easy and practical way to help build behavioral interventions. When you want to change guest behavior, a good rule of thumb is to make your intervention Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.

Easy: It should be extremely easy for your guest to act in the desired way. Let’s say you see a big opportunity to save on water and energy if you increase the number of guests who reuse their towel. You’ve developed a targeted message that will likely work well for your average guest and are ready to start. But if you don’t add a few extra hooks around the room in areas that they’d likely normally drop their towel on the floor, you’ve skipped over an important detail that would have made it much easier for them to engage in the desired behavior.

Attractive: Make it clear to the guest what’s in it for them. Put yourself in their shoes: what does the guest get out of behaving in the more sustainable way?

Social: Show that most people perform the desired behavior, such as telling guests that most guests in that specific room turn off the lights or use the 3L instead of 6L flush.

Timely: Last but not least! If possible, place a “nudge” or message right at the location of where they should act. If you put a timer in the shower with a message that people in the hotel room shower less than 5 minutes, put it right next to the knob or at eye level so that they will turn off the tap!

Start small and make adjustments as you go

Sustainability is a complex topic, and is often overcomplicated by the wealth of information out there. Considering the huge amount of information and options, it can be difficult for hoteliers to match the right solutions with your sustainability strategy.

That’s why it’s important to start small. Once you have collected simple information about your guests and what they would likely participate in, start with one, two or three interventions. Measure progress and check in with all those involved to see how it’s going. Is it aligning with guest preferences and your sustainability strategy, or is it time to try something else?

Once you have gathered guest preferences and tested a few small interventions, you are sure to be on the right track to making sustainability come to life and have guests who give inspiring, positive feedback about their experience in a more sustainable room.

Hoteliers that we work with benefit from the more than 30 sustainability solutions we’ve tested in our living labs, and we’re happy to help you explore this untapped opportunity to reduce water, waste, and energy by changing guest behavior.

About Innovation Lighthouse

Putting sustainability into action can be a real challenge. At Innovation Lighthouse, we take the guesswork out and show you how to start in the most simple way possible with our tried and tested sustainability solutions. We’ve helped clients like The Student Hotel, Meininger Hotels, and StayOkay save water, energy, and waste—and have happy hotel guests at the same time!


Interested in learning more about sustainability certification for your hotel? Join us on our webinar, Hotel Sustainability in the Age of COVID-19, featuring leading sustainability experts from Green Key, Innovation Lighthouse, and Arthur Hotels. 

Kelsey Wilson

Kelsey Wilson

Kelsey Wilson is Projects Lead at Innovation Lighthouse, a consulting firm and “living lab” that tests and measures interventions in water and energy savings, waste and circularity, and sustainability behavior so that building owners and CSR managers can implement solutions that actually work.

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