Know any good rain dances?
It’s now official: California is in a major drought, and all users have been asked to cut back by at least 20%. This reduction should be embraced by the local tourism industry ASAP. If not, it is easy to imagine that even greater reductions will be demanded in future and / or penalty rates for “excess” water usage implemented.
Hotels and restaurants should implement the following ASAP:
• Place stickers on the mirrors of bathrooms, asking people to be avoid wasting water, and mentioning the current drought as cause. (I remember seeing these while staying at a local hotel during the last drought.)
• Ask that guests only leave towels on the floor if they want them replaced with fresh ones. It may also help to give give guests staying more than one night an incentive to do so – e.g. discount coupon from local restaurant etc.
Note: I have stayed at places heat claimed they would only replace the towels if left on the floor, but then they replaced them with fresh ones in any case. Another hotel promised a discount if not replaced, but then made the coupon almost impossible to redeem. AVOID!
• Only provide paper cups in rooms, instead of glass or plastic. (Yes, plastic can be thrown away, but they are not recyclable.) These are safer in any case.
• Review the toiletries provided, so that they do not take a long time for the shampoo, conditioner or soap to come out. I once stayed at a local hotel whose bottles were impossible to squeeze, and the shampoo and conditioner took FOREVER to flow out. In the meantime, the water in the shower was being going down the drain as I waited, waited, waited. This water emergency may be a good time to implement the shampoo / soap / conditioner dispensers used in a growing number of hotels.
• Investigate if newer low-water usage toilets would be advisable. If so, start replacing now, before the number of visitors start increasing in April. (I’m assuming shower heads have already been updated.)
• Investigate if water use by hotel pools could be reduced. Perhaps cover at night to reduce evaporation? (This would also reduce heat loss, BTW.)
• Look at ways to reduce water used for landscaping. Hardscape some areas? Reduce watering times? Use more drought-tolerant plants? Review and see if “gray water” recycling may be an economical option for water used in the laundry.
• Review if it would be economical to implement rain water harvesting from roofs for landscaping use. This may pay off if the property has appropriate space for the storage tanks and significant water use for landscaping.
• Gather suggestions from staff on ways to reduce water usage. Provide a simple fun bonus if monthly goals water reduction goals are met. (Monthly pizza party for staff?)
• Test using recyclable dishes, explaining the reason in signage and menus.
• Review your marginal cost of an extra guest. Is the extra $___ worth it, if your property starts having to pay surcharges for higher water use?
• Come to know and love your water meter. “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be controlled” as the old management adage indicates. Make water use one of your key tracked metrics, up there with RevPAR and ADR! Your monthly water bill should NOT come as a surprise when you open your monthly bill!