Why Indoor Air Quality as an Amenity?
Each day a guest breathes about 2,000 gallons of air and expects healthy air. Better indoor air quality means happier customers, longer stays and increased revenues. The number one complaint in gaming environments is secondhand smoke. Embracing indoor air quality as a key amenity is the start of improving what your guests breathe.
Guests suffer because adequate solutions have not been available to significantly reduce secondhand smoke and odors. The good news is that new air treatment systems are incorporating proven technologies like activated carbon adsorption, germicidal UV disinfection with “nanotechnologies” such as photocatalytic oxidation in multi-stage systems for great results.
A good example of nanotechnology is the catalytic converters used on car exhaust systems. The catalytic converter turns toxic exhaust into benign byproducts of water and carbon dioxide on a microscopic level to reduce airborne pollution. This same nanotechnology is available for indoor air treatment systems.
Trending: Bottled Water, Organic Food, Air Quality
Remember buying that first bottled water? Today bottled water is the expected norm. Now the locally grown organic food revolution is well underway. Customers want the freshest, most sustainable, healthiest food available. A newer trend is for better air quality. Gaming properties are designating more non-smoking areas. A top complaint is 2nd hand smoke. Only 29% of gaming customers are smoking. How does a property cater to the 71% majority? Remember that 10% of the general population suffers from asthma or allergies. Your team members appreciate good air quality too. It shows investment in two sustainable resources: guests and employees.
Engaging: An Indoor Air Quality Initiative
Who is responsible for indoor air quality? Management? Facilities Director? EVS Director? Indoor air quality affects an entire property so everyone is a stake holder. Management should emphasize indoor air quality as an important part the amenity mix.
Start by creating “political will” to invest in improving indoor air quality. Talk about air quality as an important amenity for guests. The first step is to understand a property’s needs and write them down. Take time for discovery. Don’t neglect this step. It will guide the rest of the process for an Indoor Air Quality Initiative. Make a list of goals such as:
- Offer the best possible indoor quality air for guests and team members
- Add better indoor air quality to an existing Sustainability Program
- Set a goal to reduce secondhand smoke and odor complaints by 50%
- Offer in room air purifiers for guests with respiratory issues
- Be recognized as the property with the best air quality
- Devise a quick response plan for nuisance odors in public areas and hotel rooms
- Write a marketing plan to include indoor air quality as an amenity
Solutions: Improving Indoor Air Quality
Remember that “activity and occupancy” will affect indoor air quality. There are three basic solutions:
- Remove the Source: When possible, remove the source of the poor air quality. However, most air quality problems are generated by occupants and the building so we must look at other solutions.
- Ventilation – Natural and Mechanical: The safety and welfare of a building’s occupants is the reason for ventilation. Natural ventilation is air flow through windows, doors and unintentional openings. Mechanical ventilation is introduction of outside air though fans. Outside air minimum requirements are dictated by local building codes. The purpose of mechanical ventilation is to dilute the inside air with cleaner outside air. Why not use 100% outside air? Heating and cooling outside air consumes energy and drives up costs.
- Air Treatment Systems: Using an air treatment system that is integrated into the existing central air system is a solution. The right system can improve indoor air quality while reducing energy costs by recirculating more indoor air. This article will not discuss specific air cleaning technologies, but will outline the criteria for evaluating systems and technologies in the next section.
Evaluating Indoor Air Treatment Systems and Technologies
Indoor air quality is affected by particles, biological micro-organisms, odors and gaseous compounds. Research the air treatment systems offered to confirm they remove the specific contaminants of a property. Review the current system and evaluate air treatment systems to meet the goals of the Indoor Air Quality Initiative:
Current Air Handling System
- Current System: What is currently used? How is it failing?
- Coil Cleaning: What is the maintenance on the existing cooling coils? Biofilm build up on the coils can degrade indoor air quality.
New Air Treatment Systems:
- Efficiency: Is the system energy efficient? Can it retrofit to an existing system?
- Reliability: Call references. Has the air treatment system performed as advertised? How do the environmental factors affect its performance?
- Test Data: Is there scientific data to back up vendor claims? Who did the research?
- Durability: How long will it last? Will the system break down for costly repairs?
- Simplicity: Is it easy to understand, install and maintain for the desired results?
- Health and Safety: Are there any harmful byproducts?
- Maintainability: Can the system be maintained in-house or does it need a specialist? Does the system have to be calibrated often? What are the yearly maintenance costs?
- Acceptable ROI: What is the energy cost savings if more air can be recirculated so outside air doesn’t need to be heated or cooled?
- Vendor follow up: Will the vendor follow up with testing of the system to guarantee results? Is this service included in the system purchase?
The Dollars and Sense of Indoor Air Quality: Costs and ROI
Improved indoor air quality sounds great, but how to make the investment work?
Energy Savings: If an air treatment system can reduce the outside air from 100% to 50%, the energy savings can be significant. For example, with a $100,000 per month energy bill reduced by 15%, a savings of $180,000 can be realized toward a capital investment. ROI on a $250,000 air treatment system would be 17 months.
Cost per Guest per Day: If investing in a $250,000 air treatment system for a property averaging 1,600 guests per day, the cost per guest for improved indoor air quality is: 1,500 guests per day average x 365 days per year = 547,500 guest visits per year. $250,000/547,500 guests per year = $0.46 per guest per day for improved air quality.
Consider air quality a “consumable amenity” at low cost of $.0.46 per guest. For limited service hotels amenities may cost less than $1 per guest per room. For luxury hotels, that cost may be more than $20 per guest room night.
Market the Indoor Air Quality Amenity
The new air treatment system is working great. Customers are happy. Revenues are up. 2nd hand smoke and odor complaints are down. Success. Not done yet.
Include the renewable indoor air quality amenity in the marketing plan. Promote indoor air quality just like beautiful rooms, great gaming, fine restaurants and exciting nightlife. Emphasize information about superior air quality in conference and meeting proposals.
Every six months, re-evaluate your indoor air quality. Are the results as good as when the air system was first commissioned? Review maintenance costs for accuracy. Properties can have improved air quality, save money on energy and realize a great ROI. Start the process and be ahead of the trend offering indoor air quality as a revenue driving amenity.
Learn More about New Air Purification Technology for the Gaming and Hospitality to Reduce Smoke and Odors. Visit us at the NHLA Vendor Showcase on June 28 at the Orleans. Pictured below is the “VPAC” system using catalytic technology to remove secondhand smoke and odors from the gaming environment.
Article by NHLA member
Jim Kenney, Catalytic PURE AIR LLC