It appears that when it comes to using less water and using water more efficiently, some hotels around the world may be feeling a little pressured to get on board. At least, that is what a 2015 study in Barcelona, Spain, concluded reflecting back on a severe drought the city experienced 2007 and 2008.
This study involved more than 250 hotels in Barcelona. The researchers first examined some broader issues related to water, such as the following:
• Where water is most commonly used in the hotels
• Impact of hotel category (1-star, 2-star, 5-star, etc.) on water consumption
• What factors might motivate the hotels to reduce water consumption.
The researchers found that the most significant water usage in these hotels paralleled water consumption usage in most other hotels. For instance:
• Guest rooms use about 35 percent of all water consumed on the property
• Food and beverage preparation, up to 25 percent
• Laundry services and air conditioning, 16 percent
• Pools and gardens, around 5 percent.
Not surprisingly, the researchers also found that 5-star hotels consume significantly more water per guest than any other hotel category. The likely reasons for this, they surmised, are that 5-star hotels offer the following amenities:
• More water-related services such as pools, spas, sports, and fitness centers
• Full meal service—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—available daily for guests as well as the general public
• Greater use of in-house laundry services
• Larger square footage with more restaurants, bars, and kitchens.
After the 2007–2008 drought, many hotels did take steps to reduce water consumption, but the timing was not necessarily driven by costs or even water restriction mandates. Instead, the researchers reported:
“Although cost is the main motivation factor for adopting water conservation measures, prices do not appear to be the determining factor in the timing of conservation investments, at least in our case. Social pressures and possibly marketing objectives appear to be more important.”1
In other words, the properties felt pressured by the community to reduce water consumption but, at the same time, realized the steps they were taking could be used to market and promote their properties.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that the higher ranked the hotel—4- or 5-star—the more active they were in reducing water consumption.
Our Question Answered
So, to answer our question, “why are hotel properties becoming so environmentally focused?” all we can say is that it is the result of a variety of factors including social pressures. No matter the motivation, however, being more environmentally responsible, whether it involves cleaning or reducing water consumption, is paying off in many ways, especially when it comes to the hotel’s bottom line.
1. Marta Dinarès and David Saurí. (2015). Water consumption patterns of hotels and their response to droughts and public concerns regarding water conservation: the case of the Barcelona hotel industry during the 2007–2008 episode. Documents d'Anàlisi Geogràfica 61, no. 623. DOI: 10.5565/rev/dag.255. Emphasis added.