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Using social marketing to trigger water saving behaviour in hotels - a case study of a towel programme in Greece

Wischner, Stephanie LU (2014) In IIIEE Master thesis IMEN41 20141
The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics
Abstract
Water scarcity is one of the environmental issues, which societies face nowadays. The demand for water in popular tourist destinations, in areas that are already subject to limited natural water resources, compounds the problem. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to examine whether social marketing can be an effective method to increase the reuse rates of towels in hotels. The chosen research design is a single case study. To validate the findings, one hotel’s towel reuse programme was examined. The case study was based on a triangulation approach and included research methods, such as qualitative interviews and a field experiment. The social marketing theory serves as conceptual framework, with a focus on communication... (More)
Water scarcity is one of the environmental issues, which societies face nowadays. The demand for water in popular tourist destinations, in areas that are already subject to limited natural water resources, compounds the problem. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to examine whether social marketing can be an effective method to increase the reuse rates of towels in hotels. The chosen research design is a single case study. To validate the findings, one hotel’s towel reuse programme was examined. The case study was based on a triangulation approach and included research methods, such as qualitative interviews and a field experiment. The social marketing theory serves as conceptual framework, with a focus on communication measures, to design, implement, and evaluate the intervention.

The study finds that towel reuse programmes are widely accepted by hotel guests. However, three main barriers are identified in regard to credibility and communication. The first barrier noted is that housekeeping staff do not always follow guest requests in respect to towel reuse. The second concerns the other water-wasting activities. These two factors undermine the credibility of the towel reuse programme. The third barrier is a communication one – i.e. the placement (or lack) of individual signs in the bathroom regarding the programme to communicate the message to guests. Research outcomes suggest that the use of social marketing methods, underpinned by positive feedback (such as recognising individual water consumption) can trigger participation amongst guests. In contrast, statements about social norms and donations or give-aways evoke negative reactions among participants. The study further reveals that the design of signs can be optimized by adding pictures of water and visualisations.

The difficulty of conducting a social marketing approach within the tourism industry, where other activities consume high amounts of water, is discussed. On the basis of this study, it can be said that social marketing is only modestly effective in inducing behaviour change. Remaining knowledge gaps and uncertainties identified herein require further research and validation. In addition, the research has shown that social marketing as method can be too simplistic for such a multifaceted purpose as inducing behaviour change. (Less)
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author
Wischner, Stephanie LU
supervisor
organization
course
IMEN41 20141
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
social marketing, water reduction, towel reuse, sustainable hotel management
publication/series
IIIEE Master thesis
report number
28
ISSN
1401-9191
language
English
id
4732820
date added to LUP
2014-11-14 14:44:20
date last changed
2014-11-14 14:44:20
@misc{4732820,
  abstract     = {Water scarcity is one of the environmental issues, which societies face nowadays. The demand for water in popular tourist destinations, in areas that are already subject to limited natural water resources, compounds the problem. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to examine whether social marketing can be an effective method to increase the reuse rates of towels in hotels. The chosen research design is a single case study. To validate the findings, one hotel’s towel reuse programme was examined. The case study was based on a triangulation approach and included research methods, such as qualitative interviews and a field experiment. The social marketing theory serves as conceptual framework, with a focus on communication measures, to design, implement, and evaluate the intervention.

The study finds that towel reuse programmes are widely accepted by hotel guests. However, three main barriers are identified in regard to credibility and communication. The first barrier noted is that housekeeping staff do not always follow guest requests in respect to towel reuse. The second concerns the other water-wasting activities. These two factors undermine the credibility of the towel reuse programme. The third barrier is a communication one – i.e. the placement (or lack) of individual signs in the bathroom regarding the programme to communicate the message to guests. Research outcomes suggest that the use of social marketing methods, underpinned by positive feedback (such as recognising individual water consumption) can trigger participation amongst guests. In contrast, statements about social norms and donations or give-aways evoke negative reactions among participants. The study further reveals that the design of signs can be optimized by adding pictures of water and visualisations.

The difficulty of conducting a social marketing approach within the tourism industry, where other activities consume high amounts of water, is discussed. On the basis of this study, it can be said that social marketing is only modestly effective in inducing behaviour change. Remaining knowledge gaps and uncertainties identified herein require further research and validation. In addition, the research has shown that social marketing as method can be too simplistic for such a multifaceted purpose as inducing behaviour change.},
  author       = {Wischner, Stephanie},
  issn         = {1401-9191},
  keyword      = {social marketing,water reduction,towel reuse,sustainable hotel management},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {IIIEE Master thesis},
  title        = {Using social marketing to trigger water saving behaviour in hotels - a case study of a towel programme in Greece},
  year         = {2014},
}