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Data Reveals Eco-Friendly Certifications Not Benefiting Hotels Financially

Green-certified hotels performed no better than non-certified hotels

Data Reveals Eco-Friendly Certifications Not Benefiting Hotels Financially


Many tourists say they would like to stay in eco-friendly hotels, but a study conducted suggests that accommodation facilities do not profit financially from obtaining accreditation for green business practices. Evaluating financial data from hotels with and without third-party audits for initiatives such as energy conservation, water conservation, and recycling during five years. Green-certified hotels performed no better than non-certified hotels, however, experts believe that presenting similar price information and teaching consumers about what green certification implies might enhance future sales.

“Our work examines the gap between customers’ intent to patronize eco-friendly hotels and where they are booking nights,” said Christina Chi, professor of hospitality business management at Washington State University’s Carson College of Business, who led the study published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management. “This is a critical issue for the tourism industry, which is facing internal and external calls to become more sustainable.”

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, hotels, like air travel, are energy-intensive components of the worldwide tourist and hospitality business, which is a large emitter of greenhouse gases. According to recent data, tourism and hospitality account for 5% to 8% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. That number might grow to 22% by 2050.

The study observed three major performance criteria for hotels for the investigation: occupancy rates, average daily rate, and income per available room. They utilized Smith Travel Research data from 2015 to 2019 to examine the operating performance of 1,238 hotel establishments in the United States. Half of the hotels have third-party certifications from the United States, the other half, however, did not. Both sets of hotels had equivalent performance indicators in terms of location, size, and facilities.

Prospective consumers believed green-certified hotels were more expensive than other types of lodging, which the investigation disproved.

“Our research shows it’s possible to turn customers’ intent to ‘go green’ into actual sales,” said Christina Chi. “Besides helping green-certified hotels financially, these practices could put the tourism and hospitality industry on a more sustainable path.” Other coauthors of the research included Xun Xu at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and Ian Kennedy at the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management.