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Analysis: Hotels Must Use Targeted Marketing to Attract Green Consumers

Hotels trying to attract green consumers should use targeted marketing that draws on both functional and emotional green images, according to research from the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

The analysis Profiling the Potential ‘Green’ Hotel Guest: Who Are They and What Do They Want?, which was presented in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, found identifying green customers can be challenging for hotels. UNH surveyed 563 US hotel patrons who were randomly selected by a national recognized marketing research firm for the analysis.

While industry research has shown a significant percentage of hotel guests prefer to stay in a hotel that cares about the environment, guests are not always that predictable, said Nelson Barber, associate professor of hospitality management at UNH and author of the analysis.

He noted that a study by a major national hotel operation found the opposite and 75 percent of their guest respondents said they wouldn’t give up daily hotel room service activities. That study also found guests pay less attention to the environment while traveling because they’re not directly responsible for the costs of cleaning and utilities.

Barber found in his analysis that green consumers tend to be more concerned for others and have a higher desire to work for the good of society than non-green consumers. Green consumers also place a higher value on the restraint of actions that could upset or harm others and violate social norms; and they’re less likely purchase self-serving products such as those associated with achievement or success, according to the analysis.

As a result of the findings, Barber suggests hotels develop a green placement strategy targeted at green consumers that draws on both functional and emotional images. For example, green consumers look for tangible, functional images such as a recycling program or a LEED certification. They’ll also look for actions that illustrate a hotel’s commitment to the environment, such as a menu that offer food supplied by local farmers.

A growing number of hotel chains have launched environmental initiatives. In May, Hilton Worldwide and sustainability consultants BSR kicked off a three-year initiative to help procurement professionals make more informed purchasing decisions based on the best available sustainability data and information.

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