Green Hotels Gain No Revenue Boosts Study Says

ITHACA, N.Y. — A study from Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research has found that hotels that concentrate on sustainable practices have no difference in revenue when compared to those that do not.

The study, Hotel Sustainability: Financial Analysis Shines a Cautious Green Light, analyzed the database of the travel technology company Sabre Holdings. Authored by Howard Chong and Rohit Verma, the analysis demonstrates receiving sustainable building certification had a net neutral effect on sales and rates at hotels.

“The hotel industry has moved ahead with sustainability but there’s a nagging question about whether installing green programs interferes with the hotel’s quality standards and its ability to provide guest luxury,” Chong said in a statement. “Some hotels have been reluctant to go green because they might lose business. This study shows that, on average, the hotel industry doesn’t lose deals or rate from sustainability.”

Though the authors believed that several benefits from sustainability would result in cost savings and operational efficiencies, they wanted to look into the financial impacts of going green in the hotel industry.

Millions of bookings were analyzed from approximately 9,000 hotels from 2011 to 2012. The 3,000 certified sustainable hotels were measured to 6,000 noncertified hotels. Sabre Holdings, which includes Travelocity, created an “Eco-Certified Hotel” label to identify the hotels that have received sustainability certifications. Such hotels receive a green flag when they appear in search results.

While some eco-certified hotels saw a small drop in sales after going green, others saw a small rise. Though going green may not have helped business, it is important to note that participating in green programs also did not hurt hotel revenues, the study said. The idea of hotels that participate in green programs are sacrificing luxury was dispelled, according to the findings of the study.

Because green programs are relatively new, the impact of sustainability may increase as customer experience with sustainability increases, the study said.

“The results of this study shouldn’t slow down hotels’ move towards sustainability,” the study said. “If the hotel industry is consistent with the broader movement of sustainable businesses, the first projects are cautious and target cost cutting. Though revenues overall may not have risen, as this study has indicated, cost savings from sustainability programs are still a real benefit to the bottom line.”

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