Greening the Excelsior

HOTL: 1309 F 20:  Case Study #4 – Greening the Excelsior       

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Greening the Excelsior 

Susan Sayles, Director of Marketing for the Excelsior Hotel and Conference Center, was not happy. She had just heard that one of her competitors, Natural Lodging, had booked some business that she had hopes of getting. The annual conference of CERES was going to Natural Lodging rather than the Excelsior. Not only was the CERES business good-300 rooms for three nights plus conference rooms, lunches, and a major banquet-but Susan was hoping the conference would get his property on the radar screen of those attending the conference. Several Fortune 100 businesses were among the companies represented at the conference, and many of these companies had substantial local operations that could generate a lot of business for the Excelsior. 
When a local historic but underperforming hotel had reopened as Natural Lodging a few years earlier, Susan and a number of marketing directors at other area hotels had viewed its “green hotel” concept with skepticism. She had heard of green marketing and knew it worked for companies such as Whole Foods and Body Shop but doubted it would work in the hotel business. She had been a little surprised that Natural Lodging’s certification under the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design—Existing Building program (administered by the U.S. Green Buildings Council) had generated a lot of press when it was announced, and she sensed that some business had come to Natural Lodging as a result. When the hotel had operated under the flag of a well-known lodging brand, it had been a below-average performer in the market. Now, as Natural Lodging, the latest Smith Travel Research information showed it was outperforming its competitive set in occupancy with rates that were comparable and edging higher. Natural Lodging seemed to be doing quite well. 
When Susan had prepared the bid for the CERES conference, it required that someone from the Excelsior complete the CERES Green Hotel Initiative Best Practice Survey. She had asked the rooms division director to complete this survey, verified that it had been done, and included it in her bid. Wondering if this might have influenced her bid’s failure, she pulled out her copy and looked it over. 
Ouch! Excelsior scored a 0 (“no activity in this area”) or a 1 (“budgeted initiative, planned for implementation within one year of submission date”) in most areas. Nothing had scored a 5 (“well-established practice/equipment installed throughout property”). She had a feeling Natural Lodging’s scores were a lot higher. 
A year later, Susan was asked to take the Director of Marketing position with another Excelsior Hotel in another city. Coincidentally, CERES was looking to have its annual convention in this city in a little over a year. She decided to have a talk with her new GM about the lost bid and the potential value of greening the hotel in light of the CERES opportunity. Susan indicated that Natural Lodging did not have a property to compete within this city, and she thought the CERES business was a really good one to pursue. The GM was cautiously supportive of the idea and asked her to put together a group of staff to pursue it. Susan found herself leading the Excelsior “green team,” except she didn’t yet have a team and she wasn’t really sure what was involved in a hotel’s environmental performance. 

Questions:

  1. What items might Susan present to the GM regarding the value of a green program in addition to the potential for business such as CERES? (x4)
  2. Who do you think Susan should involve in the group of staff to pursue the green program? Why? (x4)
  3. If you were Susan, how would you involve the group members in the green program?  Do you think she should focus them on the CERES bid and Best Practice Survey or should they be given lore latitude to develop their own approach? (x3)
  4. What should Susan do to investigate other green market opportunities for the hotel? (4)
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