"What a Hotel. The Towels were so Big and Fluffy;

I could Hardly close My Suitcase"

- Henny Youngman

Hotels used to have to deter guests from stealing towels.

Now, hotels need to compel their guests to reuse or recycle their towels during their stay.

Daily washing of towels uses too much water, too many detergents and is very heavy work. If hotel guests would treat the laundry as if it was their own, hotels could conserve water, use less pollutants and minimize back injuries & so lower worker's compensation claims.

The hotel usually has only one chance to persuade their guests to recycle or reuse - a simple card in the room requesting that the guest recycle the towels or laundry.

But, the effectiveness of these cards varies greatly.

Science, or the repeated testing of these messages, has discovered which messages are more persuasive than others.

Most standard messages stress only the importance of protecting the environment. These message are accompanied with tantalizing pictures of the pristine wilderness. These messages do work.

However, science allows us to do better. We can track who is reading what message and what the result is. We can design an effective compliance recycling program - which gets more guests to recycle their towels at least one during their stay.

Noah Goldstein describes how he, Robert Cialdini and V. Griskevicius implemented an effective green Hotel Towel program.

By making one small change in the messaging, Goldstein et. al, were able to get an increase in compliance of over 25%!

Think about the cost savings to the hotel in getting a 25% increase in a laundry recycling program. Now, that is much more tantalizing than pristine wilderness.

How did Goldstein do it?

Think of an Army Barracks and all those neat cots. What do you see? [Ignore the barking NCO]

Everyone can see what needs to be done, so most people do it. The cots get made up. Perfect. Simple. Compliant.


(Copyright: Vintage Post Cards.)

But in a hotel, thank heavens, the rooms are private. You cannot see what needs to be done, so most people don't do it.

How do you break the walls down?

Goldstein hit upon a brilliant solution:

Tell the "guests that the majority at the hotel recycled their towels at least once during the course of their stay."

(From page 12 of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive I recommend reading the entire book.)

Paint a picture of the social part of nature.

Goldstein report this one simple change in messaging produced a 26% increase in the number of guests who recycled their towels at least once during their stay!

Imagine the overall savings because of such voluntary compliance!

By paying attention to the science of messaging.

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