Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Consumers' Perceptions of Green Marketing in the Hotel Industry

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Consumers' Perceptions of Green Marketing in the Hotel Industry

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Sustainability is no longer an emerging business megatrend but has become a dominant movement that stands to revolutionize the way the world does business today. In a business context, sustainability does not only involve the adoption of green practices but also about how marketing meets the needs of its people in the midst of sustainable development. While this remains challenging for marketers, many companies have adopted the concept of green marketing as an integral part of their business strategies. At this point, green marketing is seen as a philosophy which largely advocates sustainable development. However, when topics such as green marketing and sustainable development are discussed, the product-based industry which involves manufacturing (e.g., consumer goods and household products) is given greater attention and concern (Punitha & Rasdi, 2013). The reason behind this is because the usage of raw materials and the effects of waste produced in relation to the environment are more obvious compared to the service-based industry. Moreover, services by their very nature are physically intangible (Berry, 1980; Zeithaml, Parasuraman, & Berry, 1985) and may not be visible to the naked eye. According to Shieh (2012, p. 536), the service industry is known as "the silent destroyer of the environment."

Looking at the major service sector, the tourism industry in Malaysia has been experiencing a resilient phase of development while becoming the country's major source of income and a catalyst to the Malaysian economic renaissance. It is expected to grow continuously in the coming years due to the rising promotional activities undertaken by the government and also the increasing status of the country as a potential tourist destination. On the other hand, this development often corresponds with unsustainable consumption practices thereby jeopardising the environments and natural riches. Since the hotel industry is at the heart of the tourism industry, the need to "Go Green" is essential for both service sectors. Also, due to the rising need to fulfil one's corporate social responsibilitiy (CSR), hoteliers are using this concept in operating their businesses (Shafaat & Sultan, 2012). In the past two decades, the global hotel industry has basically increased its involvement with the environment (Fernández-Alles & Cuadrado-Marqués, 2012). The adoption of green practices and technologies in the operation are major parts of the hotels' involvement and it is growing gradually with the need to gain a competitive advantage over the other lodging services. This provides a trend among all hoteliers to necessitate their service delivery with the green marketing concept.

While these efforts are being embraced, the level of understanding among consumers towards this green marketing concept is still questionable. On the whole, Joel Makower, who writes on green marketing (as cited in Shafaat & Sultan, 2012, p. 184) states that one of the challenges that green marketing encounters is "lack of standards or public consensus about what constitutes green." Correspondingly, Myung, McClaren and Li (2012) also mention that the green marketing concept within the hotel industry is still at its infancy phase and more developments of literature and theoretical supports are necessary. Other than that, a more rigorous level of understanding among local and international tourists seems important to better comprehend the evolution of green marketing within the industry. This is because both local and international tourists have been contributing significantly to the development of the hotel industry in Malaysia. Despite the industry's strong historical growth of local tourist appearance, Malaysia's ecological attractiveness has contributed to the substantial growth in international visitors received every year. Due to the different acceptance and exposure level of the green marketing concept in different countries, the tourists will probably have different perspectives and these may affect their readiness to go environmentally friendly when they travel. …

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