Customers' expectations of hotel green marketing: a New Zealand quantitative study
Tourists’ perceptions of destination impacts and environmental consequences of their visits to destinations likely play a central role in travel decision-making (Lee, Hsu, Han, & Kim, 2010) . Their demands for environmentally friendly products encourage hotels to react accordingly by participating in the ‘green movement’ and committing to green marketing strategies that require both financial and non-financial support. With a developing demand for environmentally friendly products and hotels, the purchasing of green products by customers should be increasing, but recently the actual purchasing of these products seems to have declined. Green marketing is proposed to neutralise negative perceptions towards green practices (Rex & Bauman 2007) This study therefore investigates customer perceptions of green marketing strategies and activities.
Particularly, this study examines green marketing related activities with two main objectives: (1) explore hotel customers’ opinions of green marketing strategies and (2) explore hotel customer expectations of environmental best practices within green hotels. Focusing on the New Zealand context, this study aims to assist green hoteliers to better develop green marketing to improve such initiatives in the hotel industry. Customer perceptions are explored utilising the four Ps of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion and place.
A quantitative case study approach to the research is used. In particular, a self-administered questionnaire was given to delegates who attended an environmental-related conference in Auckland in 2014. Respondents were expected to have informed knowledge about the environment and hotel green marketing programmes. This knowledge was expected to provide insights to help marketers develop better green marketing strategies.
As explained in the results chapter, respondents acknowledged certain green marketing strategies as effective, neutral or ineffective. Effective strategies were those in which green products were seen as special, those that used internet technology to disseminate green initiatives to customers, where green practices were undertaken at the premises, where appropriate business partners were used, where environmentally friendly distribution channels (from vendors to customers) were used, and where the overall image was believed to encourage customers to purchase green products at a green hotel. The functionality of eco-labels in green promotions was perceived neutrally. Some respondents acknowledged the importance of these eco-labels as quality assurance, while others perceived them as uninteresting promotional strategies. The ineffective green marketing strategy was pricing strategy; respondents expressed their particular dislike of being charged extra for green products. The results also produced a surprise finding; in spite of viewing green products as special, respondents also believed green products may harm human health. In terms of green practices, generally respondents favoured tangible practices. However, they mostly preferred practices in which they could participate (e.g. recycling programmes, linen and towel re-use programmes), those which they were involved with at home (e.g. recycling programmes, linen and towel re-use programmes, using green cleaning products) and those which were convenient for them while staying at a hotel.
These findings can assist hoteliers to review their current green marketing strategies and develop better ones to persuade green customers to purchase green products. In terms of the academic literature, results of this study were successful in their aim of adding new knowledge to the green marketing research area.