By Robb Monkman
Electric vehicles are taking over the road. More than 1 million battery powered electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. since 2010, but they remain underserved with only 99,325 public charging ports available at 41,145 stations across the country. Very few businesses have the capability to fill this need the way hotels can. Today, every major carmaker already offers EVs or plans to introduce them and with electric cars forecasted to surge to 10% of the United States’ new car market by 2025, there is no better opportunity than right now for hotels to have a leg up on their competition. By providing EV charging, hotels can attract more guests, appeal to desirable customers who spend more, establish their brand as a sustainability leader and improve their bottom line.
The hospitality industry is historically known for creating aspirational environments for guests, which sometimes guide tastes in the consumer market. From TVs in the guestroom to high-end bedding, hotels have had a hand in influencing the adoption of lifestyle changes for each generation. Today, hoteliers are in a unique position to differentiate themselves in an untapped market of EV owners by investing in charging stations, benefitting both guests, hotel workers, and even future business prospects.
By investing in EV charging stations today, and tapping into hospitality’s natural link with transportation’s current energy transition towards electric vehicles, hotels will attract the guest of tomorrow ahead of time.
Ahead of the Game
Hotel operators have spent years investing in sustainable business practices to benefit the environment, attract guests, and improve their bottom lines. Like solar technology, electric vehicle charging stations benefit all three of these objectives, but most importantly it caters to changing consumer trends. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more affordable, and maintaining one requires fewer resources than gasoline-powered vehicles. A 2018 study shows the cost to operate an EV is roughly $485 per year, compared to gas-powered vehicles at $1,117.
The shadow of changing regulations is always looming over any industry linked with transportation, and hotels are no exception. Cities in more than 11 states already mandate a required number of parking spots be set aside for EV stations, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Florida and Utah. Recently the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin signed an agreement to work together to build a new network for charging electric vehicles throughout the Midwest.
These decisions will quickly impact neighboring cities and states. The first hotels willing to invest in EV charging in states bordering those with EV regulations are creating an irresistible lure for bookings, particularly at a time when travel by car has picked up across the country. Such an investment also benefits employees who choose to purchase electric vehicles by giving them options to keep them charged.
The Long Goal
Hotel operators must also begin to think long term about ways to improve their brand and how to increase the value of their properties, particularly if incentives to help install EV charging stations go away at the end of the year. One way to improve the value of a hotel asset is to invest in technology and practices that reduce its carbon footprint such as electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE. Investors across the world have taken notice of this, with roughly 90 percent of all Fortune 500 companies now working with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to measure and reduce emissions.
These trends are impacting how investors are spending within their own organizations, as well as how they value other assets. Hoteliers interested in understanding the criteria that are becoming more valuable in a sustainable business environment should consult ESG (environmental, social, and governance). The benchmarks present here are becoming an increasingly popular way for investors to evaluate companies based on their commitments to environmental preservation, customer and employee success, and internal best practices.
Jumping into this world headfirst can be overwhelming, but for hotels these guidelines can be valuable for improving your bottom line, guest satisfaction, and even employee culture.
When it comes to improving the environment, time is of the essence. To that end, limited-time incentives exist to help businesses install EV charging stations on property. Any business able to fully install a set number of EV charging stations by the end of 2021 can be reimbursed up to 30 percent of the cost of installation, up to $30,000.
Incentives like this exist to exemplify not only the urgency that is required when tackling environmental issues and meeting climate change commitments, but also the coming tide of electric vehicles across the nation. What’s more, the U.S. is currently lagging behind other countries in terms of electric vehicle adoption, and as international travel resumes more and more of these vehicles will be seeking the closest hotel able to cater to their charging needs.
While electric vehicles are still relatively new to the transportation industry, they are rapidly establishing a large and dedicated customer base thanks to their efficiency, cost savings, and positive impact on the environment. The growing presence and prestige of sustainability in the investment community is becoming a key consideration for any company looking to elevate their brand and position within the marketplace.
By investing in EV charging stations today, hotels are saving millions of dollars in future development costs while gaining a competitive edge that will likely never dull. This is an opportunity for hotels to not only establish themselves as a standout within their local market, but also set the pace for sustainable operations across the U.S.