The Maryland Coastal Bays Program would like to applaud the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, which has chosen to not only embrace but also encourage environmental responsibility by focusing on conservation at its annual trade expo last weekend.
Conserve While You Serve was the theme at the 35th Spring Trade Expo, an annual event designed exclusively for the hospitality industry. This year the event featured innovative goods and services, from solar energy to biodegradable flatware.
The OCHMRA realizes that in today’s challenging economic climate, businesses owners must use every tool available to maximize value for expenses and return on investment. And while going green to save some green is not a new concept, this event took that idea a step further with Green is the New Gold, a conservation-minded training and educational clinic, presented by EcoVentures International, Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore, and Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experience. Additional funding came from the Maryland and Delaware USDA Rural Development Office with additional support from Delaware Sea Grant and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Experts from a variety of hospitality sectors provided information and insight on what going green means in the hospitality world. The National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association discussed conservation efforts adopted by restaurants and hotels around the nation and offered tools and resources for small and large businesses to save money but at the same time have positive environmental impacts.
Jim Rapp of Delmarva Low Impact Tourism Experiences, along with Helen Arthur of Boardwalk Hotel Group and Worcester County Tourism Director Lisa Challenger, partnered to discuss how to increase visitation through eco tourism – a concept that promotes recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities.
Other issues included the benefits of solar energy; as well rebates, incentives and financial strategies available for those want to use a solar power system. Business owners who want to learn how to clean with non-toxic chemicals learned about low cost, common sense methods that can do the job as well as harmful chemical cleaners.
By now most in the hospitality industry are already aware of energy saving measures, such as using fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards and lights out cards, as well as how low flow showerheads and toilets can conserve water. It’s a no-brainer that using less energy and water will save on utility bills.
But with the Conserve While You Serve concept, the OCHMRA has recognized that going green also means responding to conservation-minded patrons who are actively looking for environmentally sensitive hotels and restaurants. Tapping into this growing group of consumers is good for business, yes, but it’s also good for the planet. And that serves all of us.