Customers' perceptions of 'green' hotels

 

Descriptive Analysis

In order to understand the customer perceptions toward environmentally sustainable hotels within tourism industry, the questionnaire was designed to cover an in depth review of all those aspects, which assisted in knowing customer satisfaction. For this purpose, questionnaire comprised of questions, which attempted to know customer decision making toward green hotels, purchase decision toward green hotels, the ways environmentally sustainable hotels left an impact on customer satisfaction, customer preferences toward hotel selection, their awareness and perceptions, and their perceptions on making a choice between a conventional versus green hotels. 

Demographic information

To avoid sampling error, 151 respondents were included in this research analysis, out of which 74 were females and 77 were male respondents (49% and 51% respectively). The age group selected was from 20 years to 66 years old and onwards.

 

Frequency distribution showed that the age group from 20 – 35 years were among the dominated group with 74.8%, followed by 13.2% of respondents of 36 to 49 years of age, while a small percentage of remaining age groups.

 

Level of education was also examined and the results showed that higher frequency group belonged to 3rd Level (University, Collages and Academies) with 64.2% and postgraduate respondents were 22.5%. Small frequency of high school and PHD level respondents also took part in this research.

This demographic information played a big role in generating meaningful results, which have been discussed in next section.

Responses on environmental awareness

It was inquired from respondents if they want to take an active participation in environmental sustainable matters. 58.3% (88 respondents) responded positively and regarded that they must be informed about environmental related issues. 39.7% (60 persons) replied that they do not want to hear an in depth about environment, while only 2% (3 persons) asserted that they do not want to be informed about the environment.

Customer perception toward ‘Green’ products in Daily lives

In order to know the frequency of purchase decision toward green products, respondents were asked about their purchase decision. 69.5% (105 respondents) indicated that they purchase green products only sometimes, while 18% (28 people) most always showed tendency toward green products. Likewise, 5 persons always, 11 people hardly ever and only 2 persons never purchased green products in everyday life.

Customer Perception toward Hotel Selection

There are many factors behind a hotel reservation; including, facilities at place, location, price ranges, reputation of hotel, and eco-friendliness elements. This question targeted to know about a hotel features that customer most likely to see before making a reservation decision. 48.3% (nearly 73 respondents) noted that they prefer ‘location’ of the hotel. 33.1% were price sensitive customers, 5% regarded environmental friendliness, 1% preferred facilities and 11.9% considered reputation of hotel as the main feature to make a reservation decision.

Customer Perception toward Green hotel versus Conventional Hotels

Before researching about customer perception toward conventional and green hotels, it was asked from them if they were aware of the differences between a conventional and green hotel. 49% replied positive; however, 51% were not much aware of the differences.

Customer Motivation toward Green hotels

Another important factor to consider was about customer motivation toward deciding for a reservation in green hotel, instead of a conventional hotel, for holidays. 31.8% noted that one of the motivations can be to try a different type of holiday. 22.5% of the view that in order to participate in green practices, it is necessary. 45% however responded that these hotels contribute in environmental sustainability, so they would like to stay there. Only 7% respondents liked to stay in green hotels for a reasonable price.

Customer preference toward Vacations

The respondents were asked that in which type of hotel they prefer to spend their time during vacations. Nearly 112 persons (74.2%) replied that they prefer conventional hotels, 18 people (11.9%) preferred green hotels, while 13.9% were in favour of others.

Customer Preferences toward Price sensitivity

In order to know the worth of eco-friendly hotels in view of price sensitive customers, it was asked that if they will prefer a green hotel on a conventional hotel if prices are slightly expansive. 75.5% responded that they will like to compromise on slightly higher prices, while 24.5% were not in favour of paying a higher amount.

Likewise, in another question, they were asked if cost of green hotels increases to a big extent than conventional hotels, what they would like to decide about stay. 92.1% responded that they will not prefer green hotels in that case, while only 7.9% agreed to pay an increased rate.

 

Customer Perception and experiences toward Green hotels

78.8% customers (119 people) replied that they never stayed in green hotels so far, while only 21.1% (32 people) were those who experienced green hotels before.

Frequency of Green hotel stay

Since the previous question results showed that 78.8% respondents never experienced green hotels; therefore, this question was asked only from those who stayed in green hotels. While asking about the frequency of their stay, 8.6% replied that they experienced green hotels in many times, while 14.6% stayed in green hotels only once.

Staying at Green hotels in future

All those respondents who experienced green hotels before were asked that if they would prefer staying at a green hotel in future. All of them (34 people) responded positively and showed a positive tendency to acquire green hotel services in prospect times as well.

Customer preferences toward going green

In order to know that, how many of the respondents were actually those contributing in going green, 13.9% indicated that they do not consider themselves as ‘green customers’, while 8.6% contributed in eco-friendly activities and regarded themselves as green customers.

Customer definition toward green hotels

Since majority of customers never experienced green hotels, this question was specifically designed to know that what perceptions customers have in their minds about green hotels and how they define a green hotel. For this purpose those considering green hotel as an environmental friendly hotel were 7%, likewise, 7% determined green hotel as green building with green management, a green hotel is against the environmental contamination and tries to use the proper equipment to protect it, a hotel making a huge level of effort to pursue environmentally friendly policies when providing service, a hotel of an environmentally responsible lodging that follows the practices of green living, a hotel providing  services to its customers with respect to the vulnerabilities and the need of the protection of the environment, a hotel that cares not only for customers but for the environment too, a hotel that contributes in preservation of natural resources and minimises adverse environmental effects, a hotel that has less environmental impact than a conventional one and many other similar views. All of the definitions regarded by respondents received a frequency percentage of 7%.

 

Staying at Green hotels in future

After knowing the customer views, the next question was designed to find out that how customers responded after reading about green hotels. These showed positive results, where 81.5% responded that they would like consider staying in a green hotel in future and only 7% considered staying in conventional hotels.

Customer awareness on Green hotels

Respondents were asked that if they had any awareness about the existence of green hotels. 91 respondents (60.3%) narrated positively, while 39.7% (60 people) responded that they are not aware of the existence of green hotels. 

Significant green hotels in view of customers

Another important factor was to find about green hotel practices that customer regarded highly important. 63.6% people considered ‘energy conservation’ as a highly important practice for green hotel. 14.6% regarded green hotels as critical source as they contribute in waste reduction. 21.2% were of the view that green hotels work nicely to reserve resources; as they contribute in water conservation.

Reward and benefit views for green hotels

In order to motivate customers, 84.1% respondents considered that customers should be rewarded when they decide to choose an eco-friendly hotel, while 15.9% disregarded the thought.

Green hotel practices

One of the most important and critical part of this questionnaire was to examine the green hotel practices and customer attitudes toward their adoption or rejection. For example, they were asked about Reusing towels, reusing linen, low flow showerhead, and low flow toilet use to contribute as a green customer. 79.5% responded that they can support the green hotels by reusing towels during their hotel stay, while 20.5% disregarded it.

86.8% liked to support green hotel practices of reusing their linen during stay; while, 13.2% opposed it.

75.5% supported green hotel practices by indicating that it is good to use a low flow showerhead instead of a high flow one during their stay, while 24.5% negated it.

Likewise, 64.5% respondents were of the view that they are ready to support the green hotel practices in using a low flow toilet, instead of a high flow one during their stay.

 

 

Discussion on Findings

Through these research findings, it is now easier to respond to research questions and aims of the study.

·       Are customers in Greece informed about green hotels?

Sustainability has become one of the highly debated and contested areas in literature today. OECD (2002) describes sustainability as the consumption of goods or services, which fulfil the basic needs as well as maintain the quality of life, without harming the needs of coming generations. Cooper (2005) interprets that sustainably can be viewed in a range of ways, but fundamentally, sustainability can be evaluated in terms of restricting the throughput of resources, by making use of available resources in a best possible way.

However, the responses of existing study showed that customers in Greece are not highly informed about green hotels. This is quite evident from the responses of Question No. 4, 6, 9 and 12, when they were asked about green hotels and over 80% results showed that either these customers never heard about green hotels, or they did not like to try a one.

·       Are they concerned about environmental issues?

All the findings have showed that customers are not highly concerned about environmental issues, as they seem not to be aware of the disasters of environment. Bandura (2007) and Fitzsimmmons (2008) argued that sustainably and eco-friendly activities are among the mainstream issues in current era, which can be seen by progressing interests shown in sustainability issues. The significance of sustainable actions has increased as it evaluates informed actions sooner, rather than later (Barr et al, 2006; Bauman, 2007). Macro issues in sustainability are those related to global, regional and national level issues. However, at micro level, the customer unawareness about the environmental hazards and the increasing dangers engulfing the world are also the concerns (Manget, et al, 2009).

The customers were not aware of environmental hazards to an extent which is necessary to know.

·       The customers who consume green products in their everyday lives, are they as well aware of the existence of green hotels?

Continuous manufacturing, marketing, consumption and processes have led to environmental damage, as constant discarding and polluting is caused by it (Saha and Darnton, 2005: 117). Bandura (2007: p.32) describes that in tourism, marketing and other fields were criticised due to their practices, encouraging unsustainable patterns of consumptions, which further reflects that achievement of sustainable future has merely become a dream.

The survey findings (Question 15) reflected that majority of respondents were aware of the green hotels. But the point to consider critically here is that a range of customers, who reserved bookings in green hotels, did not consider themselves as green customers (Question 12).

·       How is the individual’s environmental awareness related to his educational background?

Demographic information included in this research carries prime significance. It is quite evident from findings that majority of respondents were between 20 years to 35 years of age group and a large number among all persons were found to be university going students, or post graduates. On further in depth analysis of individual results, it was found that all those respondents, who replied positive about eco-friendly hotels, staying at these hotels and going green as environment protectors were those among the highly educated persons. This shows quite clearly that educational background plays a crucial role in creating an environment awareness.

·       How are the majority of customers motivated to stay at a green hotel?

Question 17 findings have shown that majority of percentage responses reflected a favouring view about rewards for choosing a green hotel. It shows the significance of motivation here as well. Likewise, Question 5 responses disclosed that 45% were motivated to green hotels as their contribution toward environmental sustainability. However, there were majority of price sensitive customers, who regarded staying in these hotels only if their prices were lower as compared to conventional hotels. It is evident from secondary literature that customers are usually motivated to factors depending on their past experiences and personalities (Meng, 2011, p. 200). This can be seen from the results of Question 7, 21, and 19, when most of the respondents showed a decline toward supporting eco-friendly activities in green hotels.

·       Does ‘greenness’ play an important role when choosing a hotel?

Greenness plays a critical role in choosing a hotel; this is also evident from literature review (Diener et al. 2008, Millar and Baloglu, 2008, Heisterkamp, 2009). However, majority of respondents were not aware of the green hotels in general. It is quite clear from the responses of Question 13, when they were asked to illustrate about green hotels according to their understanding. Some of them considered green hotels as green buildings with green management; some others considered green hotels as service providers who carry lower environmental impact than conventional hotels. Majority of them also considered them as hotels recycling, consuming resources properly, some considered them as peaceful, with clean towels, beds, and environmental friendly.

All this shows a distinct situation that the overall awareness about green hotels is not perceived appropriately by the customers.

·       Most green hotels adopt green practices like reusing towels, linen, low flow showerheads and toilets. What is the percentage of the customers who are willing to support these practices?

De Graaf et al (2005) and James (2007) also reflected that ecological degradation, high consumption lifestyle and constant population.   

Findings have revealed that many of the respondents were note agreed to reuse towels, linen, low flow showerheads and toilets. All of those customers, who responded that they experienced green hotels before, also disclosed that they are not ready to engage into green practices.

·       How do customers respond to the pricing issue?

There were many price sensitive customers, which can be found from the responses of Question 3 and 5. These customers in average were over 25%, who believed that if offered a reasonable price by green hotels, they may shift to trying these hotels than conventional ones. Likewise, on close and in depth analysis of individual results, it was found that these price sensitive customers also responded positively toward considering for rewards from green hotels, in case they decide not to prefer conventional hotels. 

·       What is the percentage of customers who believe that they should be rewarded for patronizing green hotels?

As discussed above, majority of customers considered that they may engage into green hotels, if they are rewarded. Over 25% of these customers were also price sensitive.

·       What type of hotel is more preferable from customers?

Conventional hotels have found to be more preferable from majority of customers. Over 70% of these costumers preferred staying at conventional hotels. However, the findings have also revealed that over 70% customers (and these respondents are those who never experienced green hotels), did not know much about the green hotels and their environmental friendly contributions.

·       How many customers intend to stay in the future?

Sustainable and eco-friendly activities are mainly the sum contribution of three existing marketing sub-disciplines; including social marketing, green marketing and critical marketing (Dolan, 2002). Green market enables the development and marketing of goods and services in a way that they present more sustainable through implementing efforts into sustainable marketing and business processes (McKenzie-Mohr, 1999). In social marketing, the influence and power of marketing is used to pursue individuals, businesses and decision makers to develop sustainable behaviour, thus by also persuading the existing commercial marketing (French & Blair-Stevens, 2006). Both of these approaches are linked to Critical Marketing, which can be determined as analysis of marketing practices, procedures, theories, policies and techniques to develop a critical theory based approach (Manget, et al, 2009). This analysis can further help in setting guidelines for regulation and control, growth of sound marketing theories and practices, and challenge the dominant associations pertaining to capitalist system and marketing, leading to a marketing system, where the prime and most significant goal is ‘suitability’.  

Despite these advances in marketing, tourism and other fields, majority of respondents were not aware of green hotels, their features and their accurate contributions, which these have been making to protect environment.

Conclusion

It is quite evident that customers are not aware of green hotels to a big extent in Greece. There is an extreme requirement for maximum marketing and awareness campaign to increase customer awareness. Since, pre and post purchase decision of customers showed that, all those who experienced green hotels once, or more than once, also intended to stay there again.

 

 

 

References

Bandura, A. (2007) ‘Impeding Ecological Sustainability through Selective Moral Disengagement’, International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development 2(1): 8–35

Barr, S., Gilg, A. and Shaw, G. (2006) Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles: A Social Marketing Approach,  Research report for Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. London

Bauman, Z. (2007) ‘Collateral Casualties of Consumerism’, Journal of Consumer Culture’ 7(1): 25–55.

Bekin, C., Carrigan, M. and Szmigin, I. (2006) ‘Empowerment, Waste and New Consumption Communities’, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 26(1/2): 32–47

Cooper, T. (2005) ‘Slower Consumption: Reflections on Product Life Spans and the Throwaway Society’, Journal of Industrial Ecology 9(1/2): 51–67

De Graaf, J., Wann, D. and Naylor, T.H. (2005) Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic: Berrett-Koehler

Dolan, P. (2002) ‘The Sustainability of ‘‘Sustainable Consumption’’’, Journal of Macromarketing 22(2): 170–81

Fitzsimmons, C. (2008) ‘Make it Green and Keep them Keen’, The Guardian [Online] Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jan/21/marketingandpr [Accessed: 6th March, 2013]

French, J. and Blair-Stevens, C. (2006) Social Marketing Pocket Guide. London: National Social Marketing Centre

James, O. (2007) Affluenza. London: Vermilion.

Manget, J., Roche, C. and Munnich, F. (2009) Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies. Boston, MA: Boston Consulting Group

McKenzie-Mohr, D. (1999) Fostering Sustainable Behaviour – An Introduction to Community-based Social Marketing,  BC: New Society.

OECD (2002) Towards Sustainable Household Consumption?, Trends and Policies in OECD Countries, Paris

Saha, M. and Darnton, G. (2005) ‘Green Companies or Green Con-panies: Are Companies Really Green, or Are They Pretending to be?’, Business and Society Review 110(2): 117–57

 

 

 

 

GET A PRICE
£ 10 .00