‘My Green Butler’ aims to change tourist behaviour to help the environment

My Green Butler, a smart service for tourist accommodation that aims to help guests change their behaviour in order to promote conservation and was conceived by Griffith PhD candidate Mr Christopher Warren, has now launched online.

Mr Warren’s research findings showed that, contrary to popular belief, how much power, water and other resources guests consumed was not linked to their stay satisfaction.

In fact, when accommodation operators engaged directly with their guests about resource conservation, they experienced resource and cost savings as well as positive guest feedback.

This is because, he found, that the usefulness of resource-conserving technology such as solar panels and eco-friendly water systems is limited by guests’ wildly varied use of electricity and other utilities.

However, when guests were made aware of statistics such as average power consumption across a property — and when they were given useful advice and tools — they were more likely to bear in mind their own usage habits.

“My doctoral research found when tourist accommodation directly advised guests to conserve resources, they saved 38% firewood, 33% electricity, 21% water, and 20% gas,” Mr Warren said.

“In addition, 80% of guests found this experience significantly added to their stay.”

Mr Warren describes My Green Butler, which was acknowledged in 2017 as a worthy sustainable tourism project by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), as “a smart service innovation” that uses “meaningful eco-feedback and gamification that promotes resource-conserving behaviours”.

The service uses smart metering, Big Data and tailored professional development training in order to reduce resource use and carbon footprints, and increase positive community impacts, visitor satisfaction, service standards, and nature and wildlife conservation.

“Resource conserving offers tourism, and society at large, a new paradigm in sustainable lifestyles. It involves the deliberate act to consume less, which is both a more effective use of resources and self-rewarding for individuals who gain a sense of positive achievement, making it self-sustaining behaviour.”

Alongside several other organisations and providers, the Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) has partnered with My Green Butler to help the service deliver its behaviour-changing program.

GIFT Director Professor Susanne Becken says that partnering with My Green Butler was a natural decision.

“The work is quite revolutionary as it highlights that guests at tourist accommodation not only can be engaged, but want to be part of a ‘bigger idea’,” she said.

“They are very happy to learn about being comfortable — for example, opening windows rather than using air-conditioning — and supporting the accommodation host to conserve water and energy, to be rewarded by reconnecting with nature and having savings donated towards local non-profit organisations such as wildlife charities.”

In order to sign up for My Green Butler’s service, accommodation providers must, at minimum, spend a short time customising the service to fit their property’s features and attend a one day training professional development course.

They can also choose the option to install My Green Butler’s electricity, gas, water sensors to monitor their overall accommodation’s resource use or and monitor each guest room/apartment.

In addition, the providers receive a free guest sustainability experience audit to help craft the system’s advisory information, and analytics provide valuable insights into guest resource use and more.

“Participating accommodation providers offer My Green Butler to guests through a daily new sheet and web app, all of which are personalised to the property and their guests’ profile so it is truly, meaningfully, enhancing guests’ stay,” Mr Warren said.

“This pioneering research conducted at GIFT into resource conservation in tourism could also have broader implications for conserving resources and reducing waste in modern society, as it shows that individuals are prepared to adapt when innovative services, like My Green Butler, assist.”

Accommodation providers interested to find out more about My Green Butler can see its website.