Tourism and hospitality are one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Because of this, there is a threat that it will grow to fast for environmental safeguards to be put in place.
We have already seen what negative impact tourism can have when it gets out of control. Just some examples are:
- Destruction or deterioration of natural habitats from overcrowding
- Impact on climate change and air quality as a result of increased transportation usage
One area that gets less attention is visual merchandising. In this article, we’ll discuss what it is and what hospitality businesses can do to minimize the environmental impact it has.
What is visual merchandising?
Visual merchandising is the technique of arranging your business’ customer spaces to create a particular atmosphere or experience. It’s used as a tool to meet or exceed customer expectations, highlight products, and improve overall sales.
Typically, this involves creating or modifying window displays, floor displays, floor layouts, merchandise bundles, etc. It can consist of anything from lighting to props to decorations. The most obvious examples are decorating your lobby or gift store fro holidays like Halloween, Xmas, or a specific season.
How to improve the environmental sustainability of visual merchandising?
Use energy-saving technologies
Sure, that warm light display may give your space that perfect cozy feeling, but just think of how many watts of electricity it’s burning through hour after hour. That’s what power-saving bulbs are for. At a little extra upfront cost, they can even help you save in the long run.
In fact, you can find energy-efficient versions of most appliances, even air-conditioning. In many cases, merely replacing outdated appliances will already help you improve your energy usage.
So, next time you want to light up that jolly Xmas display, make sure you’re using green lighting. The ideal would be to start investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. This could be implemented and expanded slowly with time.
Use recyclable materials
The hospitality industry is a significant generator of waste. You might be surprised to know that many of your visual props may not be recyclable, which means they turn into permanent waste when you no longer need them.
One example is mannequins, which used to be made of unrecyclable fiberglass. Nowadays, you can buy recyclable mannequins made of polypropylene foam. Once you start digging, you’ll find plenty of other non-recyclables with recyclable alternatives.
Just think seasonal decorations, display cases, ribbons, etc. When you take apart a display, make sure to sort the trash and dispose of them in a way that they can be recycled. Even better, sort through what you can repurpose or may use again and save it.
Avoid chemical waste
It may surprise you how many everyday items contain chemical waste. You are probably already using some of them in your displays or physical locations. This waste may leak and pollute the environment when they’re disposed of. Some lamps, cleaning products, paint, and even electronics contain chemical waste.
Most products should contain a warning if this is the case. To play your part, try to purchase alternatives as much as possible. However, it can’t always be avoided, so just be sure to track which items contain harmful chemicals and treat and dispose of them appropriately.
Reduce wasted inventory
Old inventory can be reused either as decorations, bundled with newer products, or highlighted for sales. Not only can this reduce waste, but it’s always best to get something for your merchandise instead of tossing it away for nothing.
With clever visual merchandising, you can give old products a new lease on life. Combined with customer analytics, marketing tweaks my improve their “sellability.” Sometimes, simply changing an item’s position concerning other items in the store can have a positive effect.
It’s just another reason to be more purposeful about how you use visual merchandising and to think it through.
Be a voice for change
Finally, businesses in the hospitality industry need to drive change from within. Setting standards for the industry as a whole will result in a more fair system, lower environmental impact, and a better reputation in the eyes of consumers.
Implement environmentally-sustainable practices and use that as an advertisement to advocate for change. Sustainability is a hot-button topic right now, and you might be surprised how much support you receive.
Be the change you want to see in the world
With so many human activities affecting the environment, we don’t need the hospitality industry to be one of them. It’s up to responsible hospitality businesses to look at and improve the way they do things from the inside.
Using visual merchandising is a superb way to create fantastic customer experiences. However, it can be done in an environmentally friendly way that will, in turn, foster goodwill for your brand.