Overseas, sustainable tourism is a booming industry, arising from the fact that today’s travellers are prepared to pay more for a greener travel experience. Similar trends are emerging in the African market and there is mounting pressure on the hospitality industry to go green – compelling Greenstuff, local green hospitality networking guru, to build an eco-friendly mock boutique hotel at this year’s Hostex exhibition.
Hoteliers will be able to stroll through a completely green fully-furnished demo hotel, encompassing a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, restaurant, lounge and outdoor area, all dressed with eco-friendly furnishings and products. Buyers will find greener alternatives for hundreds of items, including beds, linen, furniture, appliances, showerheads, toiletries, chemicals, energy, water and waste management systems, crockery and much more. Also available will be guidance on conducting carbon audits.
It can be an arduous process to find the greenest supplier for every item in a hotel and until now hoteliers were, by and large, faced with screening individual suppliers and sifting through endless claims and greenwashing about product footprints.
Finding a common ground
Enter Greenstuff. Born from the need to create a common ground for eco-smart suppliers and the trade alike, the initiative started out nine years ago as Hotelstuff.co.za, an online directory and portal for hospitality-related referrals. Six years later, Greenstuff.co.za was launched. The uptake was phenomenal and Greenstuff has since changed the face of ‘greener’ procurement in this sector.
“The trade was crying out for a single resource encompassing all things ‘green hospitality’, while suppliers of eco-friendly products needed a platform from which to reach buyers. There was a definite gap so we created a virtual meeting place from which to make these valuable introductions,” says Lorraine Jenks, founder and director of the Hotelstuff/Greenstuff initiative.
“Because buyers appreciate being able to see, touch, smell and feel what they’re ordering, the next step was to facilitate a more tangible interaction between brands and buyers. And what better gathering than Hostex â€“ you can’t get a more relevant audience!” says Jenks.
Where to start
According to Jenks, many hoteliers just don’t know where to start when addressing an entire hotel’s footprints.
“It’s a mammoth task! Imagine how many brands of bath soap one must ‘test-drive’ to find the greenest, most suitable product? We have invested a huge amount of time in understanding this industry’s procurement headaches and our Greenstuff Hotel addresses many of their typical pain points. By applying a stringent set of selection criteria when it comes to the eco products we display, hoteliers know that if a product is listed with us, then it is potentially viable for their establishment too,” says Jenks.
Enhancing the educational angle, the Greentuff Hotel at Hostex will be manned by a team of consultants. Passionate about African sustainability issues, they aim to promote the green credentials of the products displayed, doubling up as personal brand ambassadors for the Greenstuff Hotel participants. The result is a cohesive trade show experience that maximises synergies in lifelike settings.
“Green messages aside, the beauty of our mock hotel is that participants get to showcase products yet avoid the expense and hassle of manning their own exhibition stand. They also stand to gain from Greenstuff’s existing relationships with their target audiences,” says Jenks.
Another successful year
The Greenstuff Hotel at Hostex 2011 follows on from Jenks’ successes at last year’s Hostex show in Cape Town and also Decorex, where she won Best Overall Stand for a similarly furnished Green Eco Home.
Dedicated to sustainability and a passionate environmentalist, Jenks’ personal investment in these shows is motivated by a desire to promote awareness and, furthermore, is done so without any monetary gain.
“Crazy? Perhaps! But we believe in a cause and our agendas are about principles, not pockets. If we can educate on what it is to be a holistic hotelier and if we can get manufacturers to take a long hard look in the eco-mirror, then our work is done. At the end of the day it’s about equipping people with the right tools to make better choices for our planet – our role is merely to facilitate greener relationships,” says Jenks.
Whether the hospitality trade is greening out of market demand, revenue potential or conscience, it’s a growing movement and predicted to boom in the next five years.
“Living green is no longer about whimsical guitar melodies, bell bottoms and tofu; it is a multimillion dollar global industry! Establishments intending to survive in this new era of sustainable tourism are well advised to board the green train now. Visit us at Hostex for an educational chat and, if you’re serious about shrinking footprints and greening your bottom line, find out more about our custom-built Greenstuff Eco-Seminars – guaranteed to turn any team into a lean, mean eco-machine!” concludes Jenks.
Hostex 2011 takes place from 13 to 16 March at the Sandton Convention Centre, from 10am to 6pm.