Purpose – The green marketing concept emerged in the late 1980s, and many hotels have since implemented a variety of green marketing strategies, such as the use of the “green hotel” label to project a green image and attract potential customers. However, some companies that have launched environment‐based promotions have been accused of “green washing” by their customers. This study aims to investigate the gap between hotel manager and customer perceptions of the relative importance of green marketing‐related activities. Design/methodology/approach – Two sets of 30‐statement questionnaires designed for hotel managers and customers were used to gauge respondents' perceptions of a variety of hotel green marketing‐related activities. Independent samples t ‐tests and one‐way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to examine the significant differences between the ways in which hotel managers and customers rate the importance of these activities. Findings – The two statements that gained the highest level of agreement amongst both hotel managers and customers were: “The internet is an effective channel for marketing a hotel's green initiatives directly to customers”; and “Green hotels can elevate industry members' image and reputation to attract green tourists who demand green accommodation when travelling”. Both also perceived: “The environmental claims in advertisements are often met with criticism from competitors and consumer organisations”; “Hotel customers are willing to pay a higher price for eco‐facilities”; and “Customers are willing to pay a higher green price if part of the amount paid is donated to green activities” to be the three least important statements. The results also indicated ten over‐perceptions and three under‐perceptions amongst hotel managers, thus implying that they may require a better understanding of customer expectations. Several demographic differences were also identified. Female hotel managers and customers were found to be more concerned with green hotel products and a green image; hotel managers aged over 59 were found to have reservations about certain green marketing strategies probably because of service quality issues, although green supporters are in general older than average; younger customers aged between 20‐29 become more concerned about environmental issues; and customers with a Master degree level of education or above challenged whether hotels are truly innovative in their development of green products and services and had reservations about the use of eco‐labels. Research limitations/implications – The results of this study may not reflect the full picture of managerial perceptions of green hotel marketing, as the sample was restricted to hotels on the Hong Kong Hotels Association list. Researchers may thus wish to undertake further studies with larger hotel samples over a longer time period in future. Drawing on the foundations laid by this study, future researchers may also wish to investigate smaller, lower‐ranked hotels, which may experience greater challenges in implementing green marketing strategies than those considered here. Originality/value – Few studies to date have investigated green hotel marketing. The findings of this study can be viewed as a preliminary step towards greater understanding of green hotel marketing‐related activities.
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 27, 2013
Keywords: Green marketing; Hotels; Gap analysis; Perceptions; Marketing
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