Fresh Air: The New Hospitality Amenity
FreshStay's™ Ratings System:
SAINT CHARLES, MISSOURI — JAN. 9, 2006 — For decades, millions of leisure and business travelers across the U.S. have struggled to pinpoint smoke-free hotels. Athletic teams, school church groups, as well as those suffering from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities seemed to have the same odds of winning their state lotteries as they did finding a guaranteed fresh air stay. Well say goodbye to those days thanks to Pineapple Hospitality Inc.’s new online directory, www.FreshStay.com.2 Pineapples = Guarantees Non-Smoking Rooms at the Time of Reservation.
Clearing the Air
The Web site is revolutionary — not evolutionary — because it grades hotels based on the proprietary FreshStay independent indoor air ratings system. Hotels earn anywhere from two to five pineapples in their FreshStay online hotel listing. The more fresh indoor air products, processes and practices a property has, the more pineapples it earns.
“FreshStay.com is a rare win-win because it delivers significant benefits to both travelers and hospitality property owners/operators,” said Ray Burger, President of Pineapple Hospitality, a Saint Charles-based hospitality distribution and marketing company specializing in business-building “green practices” among other fresh ideas.
“The more pineapples a property earns, naturally the more guests it will draw,” Burger said. “The more hotels that obtain our complimentary FreshStay rating and free online listing, the more complete the online directory will be — further driving Web site traffic, reservations and referrals.
“Delivering a major value added for consumers and hospitality professionals alike, FreshStay.com is being officially launched now and already has more than 100 U.S. hotels listed that offer 100-percent smoke-free facilities. In the very near future, we will be listing and rating hotels that offer their guests enhanced accommodations that are cleaned with Green Seal-certified cleaning products, painted with low-odor and low-VOC paints, offer improved air and water filtration, and are furnished with allergen-barrier products.
Guests Breathe Easy
The fresh idea from Pineapple is that we need to make it much easier for travelers to locate and select non-smoking properties and hotels with better indoor air quality near their destinations. It should also be easier for these properties to market their enhanced accomodations to this loyal and rapidly growing customer base (a market segment growing so fast that the Westin hotel chain recently converted all of its hotels to 100-percent non-smoking.)
Thanks to FreshStay.com, travelers are just a few clicks away from fresh air stays. They simply need to log onto the Web site and select one of the four regions. Participating hotels are listed, ranked and linked by state, city and property name/brand.
Rob Cardwell, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Parkway Hotel in St. Louis, said the 220-room property joined the FreshStay.com directory network because it helps the business better serve its fresh air-oriented customers.
“FreshStay.com is a great idea being executed and embraced with speed and precision,” Cardwell said. “We’ve been non-smoking property-wide since we opened in December 2003 — but FreshStay.com will really help us get that message out to the masses now that tobacco smoke, odors, and indoor air quality in general are major hot buttons for consumers. This is good for the guest and hotel owner/operator.
“Being located in both the Heartland of America and The Bible Belt, we do a significant amount of group business with church organizations, schools and athletic teams — guest segments that place an even higher priority on smoke-free establishments,” he said. “We’re in the right place and at just the right time for a Web site and a network of hotels such as FreshStay.com to really take off.
“It’s no secret that more and more groups and individuals are looking for non-smoking rooms and non-smoking properties,” Cardwell said. “Meanwhile, more and more hotels are guaranteeing non-smoking rooms or going non-smoking altogether. The demand is there and the supply is getting there, but it takes an innovation like FreshStay.com to bring it all together.”
Properties Receive Recognition
Rolling Oaks Hospitality Inc. in Springfield, Mo., manages the 102-room Krystal Aire hotel, which is 100-percent non-smoking. Rolling Oaks President Lonnie Funk said fresh indoor air has become all the rage it should have been all along. Krystal Aire converted from a regional brand in March 2004, when it went tobacco free.
“We were able to increase our rates nearly 50 percent while eliminating franchise fees. We have a better bottom line — about 30 percent better — as a non-smoking independent than we did as a branded hotel offering smoking and non-smoking rooms,” Funk said.
There’s also a hard and soft assets incentive to kicking the tobacco habit. Cardell added that soft goods tend to last longer and properties tend to retain and grow their asset value better as non-smoking facilities.
If you could buy the exact same house in the same location for the same price, would you rather it had been smoked in for years or not? Investors tend to think along the same lines — regardless of their smoking/non-smoking preference.
Funk said that makes sense because it took Rolling Oaks four months and a bit of labor and monies to clean up the air and soft goods in guestrooms and public spaces before launching the 100-percent non-smoking Krystal Aire brand.
“We changed out the carpeting everywhere, resealed and repainted all the ceilings and walls, cleaned and replaced vents, and changed out drapes, bedding and the box springs,” Funk said. “There’s no doubt, it was a sizeable investment — but one, as I mentioned, that was worth every penny for our guests, staff, and property managers and owners.”
Cardwell said the U.S. is way behind Europe in offering smoke-free hotels and in networking these hotels via an online directory. Burger agreed but said that the nation is quickly catching up and that, according to FreshStay.com, Boston, St. Louis and San Francisco lead the way with regard to non-smoking hotels in the U.S.
Matt Moore, Director of Rooms at the 426-room Seaport Hotel in Boston, a 100-percent non-smoking hotel since it opened in 1998, said FreshStay.com will help advertise the fact that the hotel is 100-percent smoke-free to a broader audience and will reinforce the notion that the property is serious about the comfort of its guests.
“We are investigating the possibility of having allergy-free room options,” Moore said. “This would comprise 10 to 12 guestrooms that would have special in-room air purification systems and where the housekeeping staff would use special cleaning products to ensure an allergy-free environment. We are a four-Diamond hotel and we will be striving to become a four-Pineapple property as quickly as possible. After all, what could be more hospitable than offering guests a more-restful night’s sleep with better indoor air quality?”
“Launching FreshStay.com is just the first step; we expect to quickly hear from hotels in the U.S. that we have missed in our research that would like to be listed," Burger said. “In addition, we soon will be listing our two-Pineapple properties that are willing to ‘guarantee’ non-smoking rooms at the time guests confirm their reservations. We fully expect to add dozens, if not hundreds, of properties in North America and Europe by the end of this month and to begin listing four-and five-Pineapple hotels by the end of this quarter.”
Headquartered in Saint Charles, Missouri, Pineapple
Hospitality™ is an EPA Energy Star partner bringing fresh ideas to hospitality
guests’ doors and owner/operators’ bottom lines — including FreshStay™,
Environmentally Sensitive Amenities, the greenSPA luxury amenity and dispenser
system, GE energy efficient lighting, Guestat programmable thermostats,
Oxygenic water-efficient showerheads, the Nature’s Mist deodorization system,
the and dozens of other products and programs. To get a taste of Pineapple’s
sweet solutions helping hundreds of hotels bolster business and cut costs,
please visit www.pineapplehospitality.net,
or call Ray Burger at 636-922-2285.
|Also See:||Gift of the Year: Pineapple Hospitality’s Energy $aving Trifecta / December 2005|
|Pineapple Hospitality is Now the Exclusive U.S. Supplier of Environmentally Sensitive Amenities™ / November 2005|
|Got Pineapple? Hotelier-turned-industry-innovator Ray Burger Launches Pineapple Hospitality™ — bringing fresh ideas and business-building products and programs to your guests’ doors and your bottom line / September 2005|