What are barriers to effective green marketing for hotels?

“Green is for others”

Many consumers see green claims as being marketed to people not like them (e.g. hippies, snobs, etc.).

The guilt factor

Doom and gloom messages or confusing media coverage hinders positive change: half of Americans claim to feel guiltier the more they know about green issues. Research shows that guilt make us want to retreat to the comfort of ignorance. So current messages about our actions damaging the environment are not working and can actually be self-defeating.

The male gap

Surveys show that men see green issues as feminine issues, which is holding them back from adopting green behaviors.

The cost of being green

The perception is that being green costs money: hotel guests are often willing to stay in a green hotel but not willing to pay more for it.

The green sacrifice

Green implies a sacrifice that the guests will have to make. Green hotels may be perceived as not as comfortable as regular hotels. This is particularly true for individual hotels or small chains as customers expect larger chains to offer a certain level of comfort and service, whether they are green or not.

Long term, unquantifiable benefits

Our instant-gratification society defines value as cheap. Green products (from healthier cleaning products to food) can provide a different kind of value to guests: greater well-being, lower healthcare costs and longer life expectancy. However, these benefits are hard to measure, abstract, and long term. There is a huge opportunity for hotels who can reclaim the notion of value.


There are around 600 green labels worldwide, with 90 sustainable food labels alone.

Cynical guests

For years, hotels have gently asked guests to be more green (e.g. re-using towels). However guests have become cynical about the hotels’ motivations.