Customers' Perceptions and Expectations of Green Hotels in China: A Case Study
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Hotel operations consume a great deal of energy and resources that negatively influence the natural environment (Bohdanowicz, 2006; Kim & Jiang, 2015; Shen & Zheng, 2009). Perhaps as a result, hotels? environmental image can affect customers? decision-making when they choose which hotel to stay in (Gustin & Weaver, 1996; Lee, Hsu, Han, & Kim, 2010). However, there are few studies of green hotels in underdeveloped areas of China, especially from customers? perspectives, so it is not yet known how much influence hotels? image have on potential customers. This study was therefore conducted in an underdeveloped city of China?Suzhou, Anhui Province - with two main objectives: (1) to identify customers? perceptions of what a ?green hotel? is; and (2) to explore the extent to which customers expect hotels to make green efforts. The study focused on customers? expectations in a Chinese context, and aims to provide guidance for hoteliers to develop appropriate environmentally friendly strategies, and therefore make a positive contribution to the environment. A quantitative survey questionnaire was administered in two hotels in Suzhou, from December 2015 to January 2016, to solicit data from hotel customers. In total, 204 valid questionnaires were collected: 103 from a budget hotel and 101 from an upscale hotel. As illustrated in Chapter Four, respondents had concerns and specific expectations related to hotels? energy-saving and resource-saving initiatives. However, over half still expected hotels to provide disposable chopsticks and disposable amenities (e.g. toothbrush). This study produced unique findings in that respondents particularly expressed concern about food safety and cleanliness in a hotel living environment in the context of sustainability. They also showed willingness to get involved in environmental activities and expected hotels? green activities to be practical. No significant correlation was found between the demographic factors of respondents and their environmental expectations. The results were successful in fulfilling the objectives of the study, as they added new knowledge to the existing literature of customers? attitudes towards green hotels. The findings can provide assistance to hoteliers to better understand customers? needs and make changes to environmental practices accordingly.