Hospitality needs to do more to keep rising energy costs in check

16 February 2006
Hospitality needs to do more to keep rising energy costs in check

Nine out of 10 hospitality businesses expect energy costs to rise by up to 30% this year, yet only half have environmental policies to help mitigate the added expense, an exclusive Caterer survey can reveal.

Last year wholesale gas prices jumped by 75% and power prices doubled. Our survey shows that 92% of businesses expect similar rises this year.

Absorbing these costs is becoming increasingly difficult, yet while one in five businesses say they would consider reducing staff to cut overheads, nearly half (47%) of the poll's respondents admitted they had no policy to help reduce energy consumption.

Lyndall de Marco, executive director of the International Tourism Partnership, said:
"I don't know any hotelier who would flagrantly want to use more energy than necessary. However, smaller establishments in particular need more guidance and support."

Caterer's survey found that 83% of respondents thought they were "fairly" or "very" environmentally aware. But Richard Martin, programme manager at environmental industry adviser NetRegs, said the hospitality sector still ranked very low in accepting its environmental responsibilities.

"Hospitality is generally below average compared with other industries," Martin said. "But they are improving, with 14% adopting more environmentally friendly measures over the past two years, compared with a pan-industry average of 11%."

Our findings also show that, so far, most companies have not passed the burden of the increases on to customers, with 56% absorbing the rises completely and 42% instigating only minimal increases.

Hilton's development director, Bob Kennedy, launched the company's "We Care" environmental policy last month. "Being more environmentally friendly doesn't have to cost a lot," he said. "It just needs a sea change in attitude."

Vanessa Scott, the owner of Strattons Hotel in Norfolk and winner of the Considerate Hoteliers' 2005 Environmental award said: "We've reduced our waste from 10 tonnes a year to five, despite occupancy trebling since 1997. Most businesses want to know if it makes a difference to their bottom line, and it does."

10 top tips for saving energy

  • Write a policy with common-sense solutions
  • Look at your toiletries. Use refillable pumps, not miniatures
  • Switch to energy-saving light bulbs and use light sensors
  • Use local people to take some of your waste. Give old magazines and books to libraries
  • Start a compost heap to reduce organic waste
  • Use old-fashioned wool-lined curtains and reinstate shutters
  • Re-think transport - only use the car if it fulfils three purposes
  • Buy locally and get reusable plastic trays for deliveries instead of cardboard boxes
  • Close down unused rooms, pull curtains to maintain heat and install good loft insulation.
  • Make log bricks for open fires from old newspaper and don't stop making improvements
  • From Strattons Hotel, Norfolk, winner of Considerate Hotelier of the Year's 2005 Independent Environmental Hotel Award

By Emily Manson

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