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New-age guy gets results

Veteran hotelier John Dick happily calls himself a "SNAG" - sensitive new-age guy - as he believes being receptive to people's feelings and needs motivates them.

As vice-president of Eaton Hotels International, Dick applies his sensitivity and "can-do" spirit in the daily running of Eaton Smart, Hong Kong - which has 400 employees - and sees good results, especially in his efforts to promote the hotel's green initiatives.

"Getting people on board allows them to own the project, so they will do what you want them to do and do it more willingly," says Dick, managing director of Eaton Smart, who is responsible for developing the hotel's brand image and achieving the goal of delivering a smart and easy level of comfort.

"Instead of giving out orders to staff, you ask for their support. [You] will find that they will go above and beyond their responsibilities to help you out."

Dick points out that Eaton Smart recognises the impact its business, products and services have on the environment. As one of the key stakeholders in the industry, the hotel acknowledges its dependence on the environment and proactively manages potential environmental and social risks to reduce its environmental footprint.

"[We actively develop] programmes, policies and initiatives to ensure continual improvement in environmental and social sustainability and use annual benchmarking as a minimum level of performance," he says.

A series of training programmes has also been introduced to encourage hotel staff to be better environmental stewards, at work and at home.

Eaton Smart received the EarthCheck Benchmark Bronze award and Best Educational Presentation under the Communicating Sustainable Practices Competition by EarthCheck last year.

The EarthCheck Program, adopted by many travel and tourism organisations, validates the carbon claims of some of the largest accommodation providers in the world and guides them in their sustainability initiatives.

In achieving Benchmark Bronze status, Eaton Smart applied EarthCheck indicators to benchmark energy, water consumption, waste sent to landfill, paper products, chemicals and community commitment, along with an integrated environmental and social policy.

Stephen Lau, executive housekeeper of Eaton Smart, says it wasn't easy to change staff's mindset and make them more environmentally conscious.

"They didn't have a lot of experience in terms of green living. But once we showed them the way and made it convenient for them to adapt to green practices, it all became easy," he says.

Meanwhile, the hotel is also proactively educating guests.

"Most of our guests don't mind having their bed sheets changed every three days," Lau says.

"The compliance rate is almost 100 per cent. We know we must be doing something right when guests start complaining that we have changed their towels or bed sheets too soon."

Green principles

  • Think basics and go back to the fundamentals
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Remove the rubbish bin from the kitchen to encourage waste reduction