Towel reuse – herd mentality

Hotel guests are no different to most others when it comes to going with the herd according to a study to be published next month by the Journal of Consumer Research.

The study found that hotel guests paid less heed to signs that pointed to the environmental benefits of reusing towels during their stay in the hotel. However, signs such as “Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping to Save the Environment.” proved to be better at stimulating towel reuse with as much as a 9 point increase in guest participation. Interestingly, in a follow up study, the researchers were able to further boost towel re-use by placing a sign in the room that said 75 percent of guests in that specific room re-used their towels.

The study’s authors noted that “the results of our studies have clear implications for marketers, managers, and policymakers. It is worth noting that the normative messages, which were messages that we have never seen utilized by hotel chains, fared significantly better at spurring participation in the hotel’s environmental conservation program than did the type of message most commonly utilized by hotel chains—messages that focus on the importance of environmental protection.”

Assuming the study’s findings have validity in other areas, hotels could arguably effect significant cost savings by inducing guest behavior in a direction that maximizes benefits to consumers and producers alike.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.