Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Motel Greenwash

Sufficient time has lapsed to safely recall our experiences staying at a couple of accommodation properties that will remain nameless.

The properties were both rated by Qualmark NZ and overall deserved their high star rating. In fact, we generally find that Qualmark's star grading system to be a very good indicator of the level of quality and services offered when comparing accommodation options from a consumer's point of view.

For those of you that don't know, Qualmark NZ contract trained assessors to evaluate tourism businesses including accommodation every year using an exhaustive list of criteria. The star gradings allocated to accommodation businesses are generally a credible comparison between other accommodation options that choose to be assessed by Qualmark.

At the height of the Nanny-State era under the previous government, Qualmark inserted a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria into their quality assessment. This means that accommodation businesses are now assessed on their allegiance to environmental and social mantra as part of the assessment process. Surprisingly, this contributes towards the property's final star grading.

Extra special properties that demonstrate their environmental and social concerns can be awarded a separate Qualmark Green enviro-rating. 

Whilst we take issue with Qualmark and its Dark Green Agenda, the accommodation industry needs to take responsibility and be aware of the consequences of elevating environmental and social concerns to the detriment of guest comfort and choice. We are aware that there are some accommodation providers losing perspective by taking an over-enthusiastic, evangelist approach to environmental and social issues. We were dumbfounded when staying at one 5-star property that stretched out servicing their rooms to every few days for environmental reasons. 

OK, back to our accommodation observations ....Coincidentally, the properties that we choose to stay at both had achieved high Qualmark Green enviro-ratings. Next time we will be taking special note of these ratings...

At these particular properties there were a few irritating things that had a negative impact on our experience and all seemed to have direct correlation with the owners' heightened environmental evangelism. This was a shame, as they were very good quality properties, however the owners were seduced into saving the planet and forgot about the needs of the guests that they were hosting.

From our observations as a guest we have collated the following easy to follow guide for accommodation providers on what guest irritants to avoid when embarking down the environmental and socially responsible pathway:
  • Do not append a silly condescending enviro vanity message to your email reservation confirmation - you know the ones: "Please consider the environment before printing this email."
  • We do not want to use bulk unbranded soap/shampoo from a communal pump action bottle.
  • We do not wish to share bulk unbranded tea, coffee sugar from communal plastic containers.
  • We get no benefit from a power isolating switch that can only be activated by a key tag. They are a pain!
  • When we turn on the shower, we wish to control the water flow ourselves and not be dictated by a mean spirited water flow restrictor that necessitates running around under a pathetic water flow to get wet. 
  • We do not wish to be talked down to by silly signs in our room that would be better placed in a primary school reminding us to not leave water running and to conserve energy.
  • We do not wish to sort our rubbish in tacky plastic segregated bins - if accommodation providers insist on separating rubbish then that's their job.
  • We do not appreciate the inference that we are environmental terrorists by throwing our towels in the bathtub and not hanging them up for reuse. 
  • We like to read and navigate around our room at night that necessitates reasonable lighting. Low wattage, ill-fitting flouro bulbs that retrofitted into light fittings not designed for them do not produce good quality light.
  • When I open my door in the morning I expect to see a newspaper waiting for me. Your cost cutting exercise of insisting that I pre-order this the night before is infuriating.
  • And after enduring staying with you, we do not wish to read in the guest compendium smug boasts about how much water, electricity your business is saving, the number of rubbish bags you put out each week or how many endangered animals you are sponsoring!

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