Eco-Innovation in Coastal Hotels: Is there a Match With Tourist Perspectives?

Eco-Innovation in Coastal Hotels: Is there a Match With Tourist Perspectives?

Álvaro Lopes Dias (Instituto Superior de Gestão, Portugal), Ricardo Lopes Ferro (Instituto Superior de Gestão, Portugal) and Francisco Espasandín Bustelo (Universidad de Sevilla, Spain)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1522-8.ch005


The discussion on coastal hotels' green products is usually one-sided, with a focus on supply or on demand. In this investigation, authors perceive the way both sides think concerning to green products and to what extent exists a correspondence. Supported in a quantitative study in a coastal hotel sample and in another qualitative and quantitative study on a sample of tourists, two models are tested. The results suggest that coastal hotel green strategies should be more market-centric than just complying with regulations. The tourist model permitted to perceive that tourists who are more sensitive to environmental issues are willing to pay more and recommend green hotels, but this relationship should be better understood by coastal hotel decision makers to align their green strategy and communication.
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News on climate change has been the subject of debate inside and outside the academic forum. As in most subjects, there’s a divergence of opinion also in the field of eco-innovation. It’s not within the aim of this article to cover all the points of discussion about this matter. We will focus on two topics: the conceptual issue and the divergence of what a hotel means to be eco-innovative and what tourist’s value as a green product.

The very concept of eco-innovation is not clear (Díaz-García et al., 2015). Fussler firstly introduced in 1996 the concept of eco-innovation (Fussler, 1996; Fussler & James, 1996). They defined eco-innovation as the development of new products, processes or services with significantly decrease environmental impact (Fussler & James, 1996). The conceptual debate involved a semantic discussion about what should be considered within the concept. The importance of business performance oriented some definitions which considered basically the improvement of environmental performance (Carrillo-Hermosilla et al. 2010) or the attraction of green rents (Andersen, 2008).

Other authors emphasized what seems to be the aim of eco-innovation – the environment protection. For example, Del Río, et al. (2016) underlined its role on the reduction of the environmental impact of consumption and production activities. In the same vein, the European Union recognized that eco-innovation should lead to a significant and demonstrable progress towards the goal of sustainable development by reducing the impact on the environment (European Commission, 2007).

Another perspective is centered in products and organizational processes which should be novel to the firm and contribute to reduce environmental burdens (Horbach et al. 2012; Kemp & Pearson, 2008).

In relation to tourism and more specifically in hotels, the environmental harmful impact of hotels has attracted tourists’ attention (Han & Yoon, 2015), and sustainability is considered one of the most important topic in accommodation industry (Jones et al., 2016). On this industry it is also not clear that the companies in the accommodation industry and tourists perceive eco-innovative products from the same point of view. The discussion of the reason why firm management adopts eco-innovation introduces several drivers and triggers (Bossle et al., 2016) ranging from external to internal factors external and internal. (Agan et al., 2013; Del Río, 2009; Gadenne et al., 2009; Horbach et al., 2012). Most of them lead to the so-called double externalities that distinguish innovation from eco-innovation (Hojnik & Ruzzier, 2016) which emphasizes the role of environmental policy instruments and market pull as drivers of eco-innovation. Double externalities places eco-innovation in a multidisciplinary field including technological, organizational, social, or institutional dimensions (Rennings, 2000).

However, in spite of recent studies emphasize the role of customer demand (Horbach, et al., 2012) which includes his environmental friendly attitudes and behaviors and green procurement (Hojnik & Ruzzier, 2016) the way firms and specifically hotels respond to these demand pull drivers in order to match specific customer and tourists demands isn’t sufficiently explored. As discussed Hjalager (1997) there is a slow pace in adopting innovation by the tourism industry, which is predominantly launched as part of defensive strategies. Thus, this research intends to bring empirical evidence on this subject. As such, the main objective is to perceive if priorities match, to see if in fact the options taken by hotels are in line with the tourists’ intentions of staying, recommending or paying more for a green hotel.

On the supply side, the aim is also to understand whether market focus and eco-product innovation strategy contributes to firm’s environmental performance in the market. On the demand side, it seeks to assess their preferences in the context of green hotel products and how this relates to the intentions of staying or recommending a hotel.

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