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People Power: How My Green Butler makes guests and staff partners in sustainable hospitality

August 28, 2021
Harold Goodwin
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The COVID pandemic gave hospitality some very helpful insights. Among them was a reminder that buildings do not use any resources or send waste to landfills; it is the humans inside them who consume and waste. Lockdowns laid bare how many resources were used by tourist accommodation properties when fully operational, what was left on when no one was present in the building, and how many resources were actually required to ‘maintain’ a building.  Comparing full and empty highlights just how much we are responsible for.

If tourist accommodation is to play its part and reach a 40% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030, and zero emissions before 2050, then staff and guest consumption behaviours should be our number one priority.

How do you manage staff and guests to ensure they are not wasting resources? How do you motivate them to adapt? How do you ensure they know how to behave before and during extreme weather events? These challenges are well-suited for responsible technology and were the catalyst for creating My Green Butler.  We wanted to make the invisible visible. It is a sustainability technology for owners and managers who want to boost business performance and cut carbon emissions. Unlike certifications or consultants or building management systems which provide goals, plans and measuring, My Green Butler focuses on action and results…hourly, daily. Its value is clear from the savings achieved immediately.

On the surface, boosting business and cutting carbon appear as opposites. How can you increase demand and revenue while at the same time reducing costs and saving resources? It seems counter-intuitive because we have come to assume that more guests and more staff mean more significant expenditure and more carbon. We set ourselves the challenge of disproving that when designing My Green Butler. Central to My Green Butler is the idea that we can refine the guest experience to provide a better level of satisfaction (and even delight) by conserving resources.

Again, this might seem counter-intuitive. How can you create a better stay experience if guests are told to use less? The answer is most people are now fully aware of the Climate Emergency. According to Booking.com’s research in 2021, 81% of guests want to book more sustainable accommodation. We also know that most people consider the environment a number one priority. Domestic and lifestyle habits are changing. People are conscientious of recycling, re-usability, and waste. They want to work for companies with responsible values. This sense of civic responsibility has been demonstrated widely and repeatedly throughout the COVID pandemic.

What people lack are the tools that allow them to conserve. For all the cultural changes, many hospitality experiences are much the same as they ever were. My Green Butler bridges the gap. We make sustainability fun through gamification and add to the stay experience through our ‘Noble Cause’ feature. My Green Butler empowers staff and guests to play their part in consuming wisely.

Waste is often caused by poorly designed experiences, which in turn stem from a lack of knowledge. If guests and staff don’t understand how buildings functions, or what can be done to adapt to different weather conditions, they cannot act.

By tracking consumption and other key variables, My Green Butler goes way beyond monitoring energy. We provide real-time data for so users can make real-time savings. Our Artificial Intelligence learns the characteristics of the building across seasons and provides personalised advise to staff and guests. This enables people to focus on specific activities that minimise resource use and reduce wastage. We synchronise the behaviours of staff and guests with the smooth running of the buildings, thus minimising waste and maximising adaptive behaviours.

Guest and staff love My Green Butler because it is fun and informative.  Eco-feedback compares consumption performance. Smart advice improves comfort. The system motivates participation by directing attention not only to carbon reduction, but to the regenerative powers of conserving behaviours. For example, the fiscal savings from resource cuts can be donated to a local Noble Cause. This is key because an accommodation’s appeal depends on the destination’s health. Using our Noble Cause feature, businesses can support both natural and cultural heritage in their region. This strengthens staff and guests participated and the experience is joyful.

Society is becoming acutely aware of its vulnerability from extreme weather and pandemics. On top of this, guests want authentic experiences. Quality customer service and brand reputation therefore matter more than ever. My Green Butler helps businesses by involving staff, who are uniquely placed to provide:

  • Expertise in answering sustainability questions
  • Reciprocation as guests want to respond to the property's initiatives
  • Consensus that conserving is a worthy goal

We provide training that increases staff’s knowledge about energy, water, waste, and carbon in exciting ways, again using gamification. This builds staff’s confidence in answering questions and even enables them to apply more responsible behaviours at home, saving them money and reducing their footprint. My Green Butler also offers a contactless service that provides guests with their own private green butler.

What are the results of this technology? In short, transformative. Energy savings by guests range from 15% to 38%, and water savings from 21% to 24%, with corresponding waste reduction and cuts to carbon emissions. These results have held true across hotels, timeshare lodges, self-catering cabins, and eco-lodges, in the city and rural locations, and across five different climate zones.

Sustainability-oriented technology gives hospitality a new dimension. Crucially, 80.2% of guests say that My Green Butler strongly adds to their stay satisfaction. Clients have seen the number of positive reviews increase as a result, stimulating demand, growth, and revenue improvements.

There are many innovative companies now embracing technologies, biomimicry architecture, and new guest experience designs. These same companies are stepping forward and encouraging guest participation. Guests find that such experiences create a remarkably comfortable and authentic stay, which they then feel compelled to write about.

Social media review sites are increasingly influential in persuading others to stay. According to Siteminder, guests will read 6 to 12 reviews before booking. This is how My Green Butler reduces resource use, costs, and carbon risk while at the same time increasing demand, leading to revenue improvements. For example Crystal Creek Meadows increased is ranking to first place in its region of New South Wales and fourth in Australia in its category.

Responsible technology now gives tourism the opportunity of making the invisible visible to guests and staff. Better choices are made when we empower people. With eco-feedback progress is realised. This is a revolutionary step for hospitality which has until now made only nominal progress. My Green Butler is a game-changer that gives power to the people.

Dr Christopher Warren
Founder & CEO
Mobile +(61)439801349
490 Northbourne Avenue, Dickson, 2602, Canberra
Australian Capital Territory

© 2020 The Responsible Tourism Partnership 
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