Business travelers starting to demand green lodging

While some hotels are savvy enough to promote their environmental practices, most are not doing enough to satisfy business travelers who are increasingly demanding green accommodations.

More than a third "seek out hotels that are environmentally friendly," according to a new survey of 1,155 business travelers commissioned by Big Four firm Deloitte. The survey says 38 percent have researched green lodging facilities, while 28 percent say they're willing to pay 10 percent more for green accommodations.

Business travelers expect hotels to recycle (77 percent), and use energy-efficient lighting and windows (74 percent and 59 percent, respectively). To a lesser extent, they expect hotels to give guests the option of not having sheets and towels changed every day (52 percent). Using environmentally safe cleaning products is expected by 49 percent of those surveyed.

"We found there is often a discrepancy between what travelers expect of hotels and the green initiatives that hotels ultimately undertake," says Neale Redington of Deloitte. For example, 30 percent say they have asked that linens not be changed, but the hotel laundered them anyway.

The survey suggests hotels should pay closer attention to their environmental practices if they expect to draw business travelers to their doors.

Among some hotel chains, green marketing is the new big thing. New York Times reporter Joe Sharkey wrote that he was awakened at 3 a.m. recently by a blinking red message light on his phone in a Marriott in Marco Island, FL. Upon hearing the message, he was startled to find it was not an urgent business matter, but a "friendly reminder" to close his blackout curtains by 9 p.m. to keep the beach dim during sea turtle mating season.

"More and more business travelers, and especially the younger ones, are discussing these things," Adam F. Weissenberg, who heads the Deloitte USA hospitality division, said in the Times. "This is not a passing fad. And for the younger generation, this is huge stuff."

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