Sustainable takeaways

Co-moderator Christina Trauthwein, editor-in-chief of Hotel Business, asked the participants for their final takeaways from the roundtable.

Diana Dobin, president/chief sustainability officer, Valley Forge Fabrics: “We wanted to pull all of you together because we really wanted your feedback so we can continue to invest in the right areas within our products. From what I’m hearing, the designers at the table have said, ‘Yes, please keep investing in your sustainable products…’ I still feel like you are saying continue to push it because it is not over yet and we just have to keep fighting the battle.”

Amy Hulbert, VP of upscale and boutique brands, Best Western: “There were a lot of great ideas. We have a ways to go, but I think we have a good start, and if we can build upon what we have already started with, and also leverage the things that really matter to guests and are palatable for developers, then we can make at least a good first step. Then, it is about educating people and making sure that the customers and the developers understand what the options are, that we can make a difference as an industry.”

Liliane Moura, VP of business development, Benjamin West: “It always goes back to education. I think we all have a part of it… That is a conversation I would like to have more of and understand better. I do think that, at the end of the day, we have a lot of power as an industry. We have an influence, and we touch so many people. I don’t care when you tell them, tell them after so they can feel good, but I do think that we’re not doing enough yet. I get excited when we restart the conversation because I think that it is so needed.”

Chris Kearney, VP, EXP: “When I do presentations about sustainability, I always like to use a quote from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax—‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ I think all of us have to show that we care, otherwise, it is not going to get better. We are going to continue with more polar vortexes, global warming and climate change, unless we all start to care and push it. I don’t think it has to be about payback, it has to do with doing the right thing.”

Lorraine Francis, design principal, Cadiz Collaboration: “I think what is going to move us forward is technology. If you look at the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and data, wireless devices are going to get a Iot cheaper to put in, but how are you using that data? So that data analysis and understanding guests better will help us on energy and conservation moving forward.”

Linda Hein, SVP of training and development, The Parker Company: “I’m going to go back to my company and have a conversation: When we have a new project, we should be a little more proactive in asking the questions about sustainability at the beginning when we meet with the client—we should bring it up—instead of just being a passive actor in the whole project and waiting for someone to say, ‘We don’t want it’ or ‘We can’t afford it.’ We should bring it up right up front and try to get them to think a little differently. We don’t do that now at all.”

Walter Barela, principal, Peak Hospitality: “Passion is infectious, so if you believe, I will believe, and if you dumb it down for me, and you bring me the specifics, you give me an option to choose. We can have passion and say it is the right thing to do, but it is easy to say that with someone else’s money. I don’t always have that benefit either because I have to go back to my investors…but if I sell them on the story—and by the way, bankers do the same thing, they aren’t lending on the product, they are lending on the story—if you tell the story correctly, people will bite. Passion is going to drive things.”

Amy Jakubowski, client relationship director for the Americas/design director, Wilson Associates: “Don’t give up. Don’t give up the conversation. Keep pushing it forward. It is what we do—we shape the human experience, and the human experience is about health and well-being. As we look at this, guests will make money or will do this, will make it sustainable, but what are we leaving behind for our children and grandchildren? We have to care about that, and I think that trumps money in some way. We just have to figure out how to do it more effectively.”

Jennifer Chesek, VP of hospitality and senior living, Beyer-Brown & Associates: “Just give it time. We are definitely seeing it come back forward and…that conversation has to continue with the guests and customers using the hotels.”

Siobhan Barry, design director for hospitality, Gensler: “When you invited me to join the panel, I was thinking, ‘This is going to be really interesting.’ We’re all really kind of passing the buck and pointing fingers and I think the thing that I came out with today, mostly from this table…is inspiration. You need that yourself to take leadership and stop waiting for someone to lead for you. I think we are all saying that. We are saying it with passion, and you are talking about action. How do you turn all this into action and inspiration to go back and change your actions with your clients, with your owners, with your team, who are looking to you to say what your standard and process is? How do we put that into action? It’s not waiting for anyone else. We have to go do it.”