If you live in North America, you have heard those ads on the radio for Motel 6, which since 1988 have featured NPR commentator Tom Bodett saying that the 50-year old chain will “leave the light on for you.” Despite the competitive hotel industry, travel consolidator web sites and growing interest in services like AirBnB, Motel 6 still thrives. In 2009, the chain, now owned by the French hotel group Accor, opened its 1000th property in Biloxi.
For those who live on the other side of the pond, Accor is a leading brand that owns a bevy of chains. From the large discount hotel brand Ibis to the more posh Sofitel, the US$7.7 billion (€6 billion) company shows no sign of slowing down.
Credit hotel companies like Accor for having an important role in reinventing old properties: abandoned banks and apartment buildings over the last 20 years have been renovated into hotels and inns. But that smart reuse also means increased energy and water consumption.
With all those properties, the environmental and social impact of the hospitality industry is enormous. More companies like Marriott are working on improving their performance, but the challenge of inspiring thousands of managers, tens of thousands of employees and franchisees is like forcing an aircraft carrier to turn around on a dime. Even the most conscious hotel employee faces a huge hurdle: guests.