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All the Sun and Starwood

July 27th, 2013

Now you have one more reason to hope for a sunny vacation!

This spring, Starwood Hotels announced that it would be partnering with NRG Solar, one of the largest developers of solar power in the U.S., to install renewable energy systems at Starwood properties around the world. The undertaking will begin with a 1.3 megawatt solar array at the Westin St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This partnership and solar initiative is part of Starwood’s larger “30/20” sustainability goal, which aims to reduce energy consumption by 30% and water consumption by 20% by the year 2020. Ambitious? Perhaps. Green? Definitely. But it’s also smart business.

Partnerships like these illustrate how going green is not just an environmentally responsible choice; if done strategically, sustainability initiatives can also be good for the bottom line. In the case of Starwood’s solar energy initiative, NRG will own the solar arrays, while Starwood will enter into an agreement to purchase electricity at fixed costs.

Starwood will benefit directly by receiving reduced, more predictable energy costs. The hotel group will also benefit indirectly through the positive PR that comes with a reduced ecological footprint. As a highly visible global company, it’s important for Starwood to pay attention to sustainability (and CSR in general) and its impact on target market perception.

Green initiatives are more important than ever for Starwood’s target market (vacationers), which is increasingly environmentally-conscious. A TripAdvisor survey found that 57% of travelers “often” consider environmental concerns when making travel decisions—including when choosing a hotel. A further 71% said they “planned to consider” the environment when making future travel plans.

Starwood’s solar initiative responds to the market demand for a greener travel experience. Meanwhile, NRG is selling more of its systems and locking in future revenue. From luxury hotel, to solar company, to traveler, everyone wins—including the environment.

We applaud Starwood’s efforts at making their hotels more sustainable. Knightsbridge Branding can help with the next step: that is, building awareness about these efforts, incorporating “green” measures into the brand identity, and conveying these elements to the target market to increase sales.

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