HPU Visiting Assistant Professor in Hospitality and Travel Management Rojan Baniya, Ph.D., recently co-authored a research article in the journal Tourism Review entitled “Green hotel selection: the effects of social learning and eco-labels.”
The term “green hotel” or “eco hotel” is defined as an environmentally sustainable hotel that has made environmental improvements to its structure to minimize its impact on the natural environment. Characteristics include non-toxic cleaning agents and detergent, renewable energy sources, recycling bins, and guests reusing their towels and sheets for another day to reduce water consumption.
The article explains that since the entire world has turned to sustainable development, the tourism and hospitality sector has also moved into the path of sustainability. Sustainability consumption is a crucial route to sustainable tourism; therefore, the study investigates the individual and combined effects of social learning and eco-labels on green hotel selection.
“The methodology of this study was a between-subject online experimental method with 199 respondents,” says Baniya, “which is used only in around 15% of published tourism articles. This method also provided reliability and control features.”
The article’s finding shows that social learning and eco-labels individually could not influence tourists to select green hotels. However, positive performance social learning with eco-labels could influence tourists’ green hotel selection. Therefore, internalizing green hotel performance from trusted sources and external validation bring behavioral changes among tourists to select green hotels.
“Green hotel selection is a complex phenomenon,” said Baniya. “It is hard to sway visitors to these green behaviors from their regular habits during vacation. However, this study shows that if visitors see eco-labels and are fueled by positive reviews from their near and dear ones, they are likely inclined to select green hotels.”
According to Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Hawai’i hotel room revenues statewide totaled $494.2 million in June 2022. At the same time, the room demand was 1.3 million room nights, and the room supply was 1.7 million room nights. With these significant figures, the hospitality industry's impact on the sustainability of Hawai’i is high, whether economic, environmental, or socio-cultural. Despite increasing awareness among visitors about green products and services, it still remains only a niche market. The challenge of today’s world is to make it a mainstream product, which can happen only if customers themselves demand green products and services like green hotels.
The accommodation sector is one of the largest sectors within the tourism and hospitality industry. One plausible way to harness the accommodation industry's positive impact and lessen its negative impact on tourism is to push them toward the agenda of sustainability. This shift is possible only when the visitors themselves demand green hotels. This study offers a new social learning-based model for understanding sustainable consumption. In addition, this study provides policy and promotion formulation insights to hotel managers and sustainable tourism promoters to market green hotels. This study has important insight for the Hawaiian hotel industry and other similar industries around the world.
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