For me, it isn't luxury if it isn't green

A PhoCusWright study of US travelers found 44% consider their environmental impact important, but "56% are skeptical of what companies are telling them" and "only 8% think it is easy to find green travel options."

Dear AAA, Mobil, Priceline and the other hotel rating systems:

Guests staying in hotels want green steps taken. The rating systems are behind the times. We want you to catch up:

  1. Rate hotels based on how green they are. Catch up to customer demand for green!
    • First-step suggestion: Use existing rating systems to give hotels green stars separate from the main rating, and based on their self-assessments or a wide variety of possible greening standards.
    • Rating scales should determine how important greening is to their average user, and make sure that greening is at least that important in their star- or diamond-rating scale. Raters: can you do a survey of some random travelers and find out, on average, how much happier they would be to be served organic food, and then adjust your point scale appropriately? This can be implemented either by developing your own assessment, or carefully studying the different green standards and determining how to integrate those your own star scale.
    • Optional: Hotels such as eco-resorts that go above-and-beyond the basics might get a special award or icon. But the existence of eco-resorts doesn't negate that most hotel guests on ordinary travel or business trips desire basic green steps taken every day.
    • Five Stars: To be a 5-Star-Rater in our Green Event Guide's scale, a hotel rating system should be cooperating with the green standards organizations. Your staff goes to the hotels: learn from the green experts what you need to know about greening, train your team, and then help the environmental organizations with the field work.
  2. Train your ratings staff about green requirements:
    • First-step suggestion: Add greening to the "Concierge" section of your ratings. "Include questions such as: where can I get an organic/green meal?" or "How does your recycling system work?" to the list of questions. These are among the common questions hotels are starting to hear -- and fumble -- from their customers.
    • In coming years, have your reviewers able to ask more detailed questions and go behind the scenes to determine whether a hotel is really green. A good rating system will train their staff to the needs of the customers, and now that includes some expertise on environmental questions.