Restaurants providing local and organic foods are growing in popularity as worldwide consumers have responded favorably to sustainable options. Local foods are typically fresher, healthier, and have less of an impact on the environment. As this trend grows in popularity, the newest businesses to join the sustainable food bandwagon are actually in the Hospitality and Travel industry.
Large urban hotels are frequently growing gardens on rooftops to provide vegetables and herbs for their daily menus. Many are also keeping bees on their premises to provide a natural sweetener for a variety of dishes. Aside from the convenience of always having vegetables and honey on-hand when they are needed for the day’s menu items, hotels are aware of the favorable image that environmentally conscious behaviors give them with their guests.
The Chicago Marriott located on the Magnificent Mile has surpassed the “green” practices of most of its worldwide counterparts. In addition to gardening and keeping bees, the hotel also cures meat, makes cheese, and stomps grapes for wine. They are turning the variety and uniqueness of their menu items into a competitive advantage that differentiates them from others in the industry.
Hotel guests have proven that they will pay a premium for the comforts of healthy home-grown meals according to Bjorn Hanson of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University. In an industry where a positive image can have a dramatic impact on customer loyalty, this is one area in which several hotel businesses have chosen to stand out.
Where space limitations have prohibited certain hotels from growing their own vegetables or raising their own bees, hotel owners have turned to partnerships with local farmers that will allow them to find food products close to home.
Time will tell whether food is important enough in the hotel industry that it will impact the decisions of global customers, but when teamed up with other sustainable practices there is no doubt that sustainability is a popular trend in almost any industry.
Next time you decide where to stay while vacationing or doing business away from home, you may want to take a look at what is happening on the rooftop.