SemaConnect Blog


November 27, 2013

How Hotels Can Benefit from Installing Charging Stations

 
 
 
How Hotels Can Benefit from Installing EV Charging Stations: Analyzing the Trends and Opportunities
With EV charging stations popping up all over the place these days, it should come as no surprise that the hotel industry has recently jumped on-board the EV bandwagon. In their constant desire to remain ahead of the needs of consumers, many hotels across the country have decided that tapping into the EV market is the smart thing to do.
Not only does it improve the public image of a particular hotel (or hotel chain), it provides a valuable amenity to a small segment of its customers and provides unique opportunities to market to a new consumer base.

This article will take an in-depth look at the construction of EV charging stations at hotels and discuss some contributing factors to the embrace of the EV economy by major players in the hotel industry. In particular, I will look at how demographics and shifting consumer values provide a sound economic argument for the construction of EV amenities at hotels. Finally, I will conclude with a few notes on “best practice” when constructing EV charging stations at hotels.
Hotels: Economics and the Provision of Amenities
There’s an old principle in hotel management that says in order to improve profitability, a hotel should increase value rather than cut rates. Although a hotel will sell more rooms by cutting its rates, the higher occupancy will not cover the associated loss in revenue per room. This is because prospective customers base their lodging decisions more on the value of a hotel room rather than its actual price.
A consumer will be more likely to select a hotel that provides better value at a particular price point than other hotels (e.g. it comes with a pool, free WiFi, a business center, etc.). One of the best ways of boosting value is by providing helpful amenities to guests. But since the needs of guests are always changing due to new technology/demographics, hotels need to be attuned to the needs of present day consumers.
Just like Wi-Fi was 5-10 years ago, EV charging stations are becoming the key “cutting edge” amenity hotels can provide to differentiate them from the competition. Although EV drivers are still a relatively small proportion of a hotel’s customers, savvy hotel managers are realizing that the current lack of charging locations in some places provides unique opportunities to capitalize on an emerging market – and establish loyal new customers.
While EV drivers often use their vehicles whenever they can (to work, to go shopping, for nearby leisure activities) they are often hesitant to take them on long trips due to the lack of practical charging opportunities. But if they have access to charging station at their hotel, then most of their charging needs will be taken care of while sleeping. Their cars can charge overnight in the parking lot and be good to go the next morning.
Since EV charging stations are relatively inexpensive to install and maintain – compared to many other hotel amenities like a pool or fitness center – constructing them at a hotel makes sense on an economic level.
Why Installing an EV Charging Station at a Hotel Makes Sense
This article has already alluded to the practicality of installing an EV charging station at a hotel: as an increasing share of lodgers drive EVs, they will need a place to charge their vehicles. Since hotels are a logical place to charge an EV while away from home on extended trips, constructing a charging location there makes sense.
However, there’s a whole raft of other benefits hotels can attain by providing EV amenities on their properties.
For one, it provides a unique opportunity to tap into a new form of cost-effective marketing: a hotel can market itself to EV drivers who are not staying at the hotel. When a hotel installs an EV charging station, it can connect the station to an online network such as PlugShare. This will advertise the location of the charging station to numerous EV drivers, who may decide to use the charging station at some point.
Whether the hotel institutes a small fee to use the station for non-guests or just keep charging free, it has established a relationship with a prospective customer. That person will remember that hotel (or hotel chain) and may be inclined to use it when in need of a room in the future.
Finally, installing a charging station helps add a green dimension to a hotel’s corporate image. Providing EV charging stations will show that a hotel cares about sustainability and clean transportation – values which are held in high regard by both EV and non-EV drivers.
A study conducted by the Center for Responsible Travel reveals that 74.5% of hotel lodgers say that the environmental practices of hotels influence their decision to stay there. This is a large percentage of customers that hotels can tap into when thinking of new ways to increase the value of their hotel services.
Best Practices when Installing EV Charging Stations at Hotels
Hotels considering the installation of EV charging stations at their properties should keep a few things in mind.
In order to maximize the marketing and branding benefit of an EV charging station, locate it in a highly visible location. Keeping it near the lobby or main entrance of a hotel will allow as many people to see it as possible. Even if they aren’t an EV driver, they will be reminded that “this” hotel supports green policies and clean transportation, and talk about it to other people who share similar values.
On a more technical level, keep in mind that charging hoses are typically 20 – 25 feet long. As such, try to locate the charging station as close to the point where a 220/240 volt, 40 amp circuit can be accessed. This will keep the initial construction costs low.
Finally, keep an eye out for subsidies and tax credits. From time to time states give out financial incentives for the construction of sustainable amenities, which can also lower the initial investment.
Conclusion
Hotels on the cutting edge of technology and sustainability have already been investing in EV charging stations in a big way. Hotel chains such as Marriot, Wyndham, Sheraton, and Hamptom have all been installing EV amenities over the past year (just to name a few), with many more hotels catching on to the trend.
Right now there is a unique opportunity for hotels to capture a new segment of the market and establish brand loyalty by tapping into the EV economy.
EV drivers are some of the most die-hard automobile enthusiasts out there, and they do talk amongst each other about new charging locations. Hotels ignoring the growing segment of EV drivers are missing out on great opportunities to forge new relationships, boost their corporate image, increase revenue, and establish themselves as leaders in their industry.
 
 
Joseph Tohill is a freelance writer and online communications specialist for organizations in the sustainability sector. He has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia and spent most of his academic career studying sustainable urban development; namely the interdisciplinary relationship between built form and natural environment.
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