The Greening of Kimpton Hotels: Five Valuable Lessons
By Jeff Slye Senior Consultant, Five Winds International | October 28, 2008
Not long ago, imagining a world class hotel trying to mesh a high-end guest experience with an eco-initiative was downright laughable. Ask a $300 a night guest to use 1-ply toilet paper resembling sandpaper and they would disappear faster than you could say "hemp seed." However, as the urgency of global care has risen so has the quality and distribution of eco-friendly products.
Kimpton Hotels, with 39 properties in the United States and Canada, was founded on a belief to do good while doing good business. In fact, they have had their eye on being environmentally responsible since 1985 by creating a roof-top park at the Galleria Park Hotel, the eco-friendly Hotel Triton, and eco-celebrity suites. At the turn of the century, Kimpton desired to take their eco-consciousness to a higher level and the timing was right considering the recent influx high-quality environmental products infiltrating the marketplace. It was clear that Kimpton could launch a national program without sacrificing the guest experience. In fact, they could even enhance it. The question was how.
They needed someone to help lead the charge in delivering stylish and memorable hotel experiences while reducing their ecological footprint at the same time. As their project manager and lead environmental consultant, Business Evolution Consulting helped create one of the most comprehensive eco-program in the boutique hotel industry today, "Kimpton EarthCare." So far, the program is paying off huge dividends for the environment, its guests, and Kimpton's bottom line. In just a few months Kimpton has saved hundreds of trees, removed thousands of gallons of toxic cleaning supplies from our rivers and oceans, and has tracked over $500,000 of new revenue attributed to EarthCare.
Although I don't typically like to give away the ending, I feel compelled to share the ultimate conclusion that came from greening Kimpton - EVERY hotel and hotel management entity should have an environmental program. It is doable, cost effective, and simply the right way of doing business. To help you along in the process of becoming planet-friendly or even more planet-friendly, I'll share five lessons I learned along the path to "greening Kimpton."
Lesson 1 - It Takes a Sincere Desire to Make a Difference
Kimpton didn't need to be hugging trees to show me they had a sincere commitment to further diminish their environmental impact. They already had an environmental partner, Trust for Public Land, and a history of being environmentally sensitive. Kimpton's environmental commitment became crystal clear when concerns were presented to their Chief Operating Officer, Niki Leondakis, about the environmental program being mimicked by competitors. Leondakis stated, "What could be better for the environment and EarthCare than having our program adopted by every other hotel in the industry?" This attitude touched the entire executive management team and set the foundation for the success of Kimpton EarthCare.