While the benefits of going paperless are clear, getting there isn’t so simple; Independent operators should work closely with their property-management system provider to put a solution in place that can shoulder the burden that comes with a lack of physical paper
By Warren Dehan
Nine in 10 consumers say they are looking for sustainable options when traveling, according to Expedia’s Spotlight on Sustainable Travel. And, the 2022 Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report reveals that 63 percent of travelers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably, up 10 percent from 2021. These decisions are setting the pace for hoteliers’ sustainability efforts for 2022 and beyond.
Green initiatives can result in tax breaks, government subsidies and more for properties willing to reduce their carbon footprint. One way to step up a hotel’s sustainability game is to work with their property-management system provider to identify new ways to win-over guests’ adoption of self-serve and mobile tools, while also improving operations. Eliminating paper waste is a great start. It produces incremental gains in revenue by reducing both physical materials and recycling efforts for overall better waste management.
Recycle … Less?
The pandemic and the rise of social distancing has pushed many of the cost-saving aspects of going green to the forefront of hotel operations. Fortunately, many of the same strategies that favor the environment also benefit hoteliers’ bottom line, following an initial period of adjustment. One of the most impactful ways to reduce waste is by amplifying digital communications, potentially cutting paper out of the hotel operation entirely.
According to the EPA, 46 million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2018, a figure that does not include paper that was ineligible for recycling. Hotels, like many businesses today, have a habit of creating an abundance of unnecessary paper waste. The check-in and check-out processes traditionally involved multiple printouts presented to guests for review, the majority of which is either misplaced, thrown away or stored in boxes consuming space. To reduce the level of paper waste generated by doing business, operators are turning to technology.
Operationally, the process of cutting paper waste out of your hotel can play out in many ways. Management can provide interactive tablets to guests, with all relevant documents or receipts emailed to them directly. If guests prefer a contactless check-in, the entire process can be handled fully through email or text and push notifications. This process is inherently comfortable to consumers who are already intimately familiar with these communications.
While the benefits of going paperless are clear, getting there isn’t so simple. Independent operators especially need to work closely with their PMS provider to make sure they have a system that can shoulder the burden that comes with a lack of physical paper. Everything from check-in forms to amenity checklists and even spa and activity intake forms can easily be handled digitally. This requires a PMS that can integrate with multiple levels of hotel infrastructures, as well as interacting directly with guests.
While the commitment to eliminating paper may sound like a difficult task, the availability of sophisticated PMS across hospitality makes it more feasible than ever before. Many facets of guest communication, billing, and even operations can be automated by embracing digital communications enabled through the hotel PMS. Additionally, once a paperless digital plan is in place it becomes easier for hotels to justify and act on other sustainability goals.
Cutting out paper also helps improve the consistency of communications between hotels and travelers. Consumers – and sometimes businesses – can misplace important documents and receipts, complicating matters when an issue arises during or following a stay. Digital communications create a trail that is easy for either operators or guests to follow without the need for physical documentation, helping to settle disputes and respond to crises as they arise.
Guests already embrace several sustainability efforts on property, many of which benefit both them and hotels. Housekeeping has been skipping guestrooms on request for years, saving hotels both labor and utilities costs while preserving traveler privacy. Digital keys and remote guestroom access are helping hotels gradually move away from plastic door keys. Hotels have also adopted numerous energy-saving features all throughout their properties, from LED light bulbs to solar panels.
With a flexible and committed PMS partner, hotels can make the technology and operational adjustments necessary to be sustainable today while providing guests with the digital journey that meets their own green footprint preferences.