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Tough times may be turning road warriors into eco-warriors

This article first appears in ehotelier.com on  May 29, 2009

The faltering economy - not the fragile environment - is the biggest motivator for frequent travelers who have become "more conscious of waste" according to a survey commissioned by Element Hotels, which is launching The Element Eco-Travel Index, an annual index of green travel habits among frequent travelers. Element is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.'s (NYSE: HOT) newest lifestyle hotel brand, and green trailblazer and innovation lab for environmentally sustainable construction, building and operational practices. Element is the first major hotel brand to mandate that all its properties pursue the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for high-performance buildings.

According to The Element Eco-Travel Index, nearly 78 percent of respondents said they are paying more attention to wasteful habits like "leaving the lights on, leaving the TV on, [or] leaving the faucet running." But more than 41 percent say their vigilance about squandering resources is "due to the economy, while just 28 percent claim it's "due to the environment."

Eco-conscious habits slip during trips, The Element Eco-Travel Index also reveals. Though nearly half (46 percent) of frequent travelers say they "always" recycle glass and plastic at home, that number dips to 36 percent on the road. Conserving water matters at home - more than 34 percent say they limit shower time or lawn-watering - but only 20 percent watch water consumption while traveling. Only about one-third of travelers surveyed consider themselves "outstanding" in their personal "green programs," with most feeling more like "green beginners."

"Whether they're motivated by saving money or saving the planet, travelers clearly want the opportunity to follow green practices on the road," said Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President of Specialty Select brands, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "That's why we built green choices into the Element guest experience. The more accessible, intuitive, and enjoyable green options are, the more travelers are going to embrace them."

Among other findings in The Element Eco-Travel Index, which polled 1,008 people who had stayed in a hotel at least three nights in the last twelve months and usually spend at least $100 per night on a hotel room:

  • More than 65 percent of respondents said they're more likely to change sheets and towels daily in a hotel versus in their home.
  • Women tend to take "green habits" on the road more than men do. Men were more likely than women to change sheets and towels daily and leave the lights on while sleeping.
  • At home, just under 35 percent of travelers said they always conserve energy by lowering the thermostat, but just 25 percent say they do the same on the road.

This survey was conducted by Cedarhurst-based STUDYLOGIC LLC via telephone.

 






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