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Hotels: It’s Time To Start Offering EV Charging For Guests

Carolyn Fortuna

Jul 1, 2023

What are they waiting for? Hotels are missing out on an opportunity to build their customer base with loyal EV drivers who are road-tripping.

We expect a lot from our hotels. Efficient and welcoming customer service. Spacious and clean rooms. Amenities like an indoor pool and sauna, cafe and gift shop. And now EV charging for guests is in demand.

There’s just one problem: While most EV drivers want to charge overnight at their hotel, only about a quarter of hotels offer EV charging on site.

Hotels have generally embraced initiatives to encourage the adoption of sustainable transportation by staff and guests. More than half of all hotels plan and implement carbon reduction initiatives. Over 40% of all hotels measure carbon emissions, and most measure their level of success on a quarterly basis.

Yet only 26.6% of all hotels install electric vehicle charging stations on their property. That’s according to a recent survey of 17,000 hotels in the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Even hotels that are EV-compatible may have just a spot for a single car or only for certain models. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Hyatt Hotels Corp. are slightly stronger, with chargers at less than a third of their US properties — that’s still too low to fulfill demand.

It’s not enough to meet the needs of EV drivers on road trips. When are hotels going to step up and provide EV charging for guests?

During the first few months in which we owned our Tesla Model Y, we took a road trip north to St. Augustine for a conference. We were confident about being able to plug in overnight, as our luxurious beachfront hotel listed charging as an amenity.

Surprise! When we attempted to turn our EV over to the valet, we learned that they’d be plugging it into a wall socket. It would take more hours than the entire conference to replenish the charge. Disappointed, we headed back out toward the highway and to a Tesla Supercharger.

At a time in which EV drivers are yearning for more charging options, hotels are falling short. Survey results were revealing.

  • Full service hotels (58.1%) are three times more likely to include EV charging amenities compared to limited service hotels (20.4%).

  • EV charging options are established practice for most property types except for non-resorts, where it is an innovative practice.

  • The practice of providing EV charging is between 30% to 40% for most location types and below 20% for hotels located at motorways and small metro and town areas.

  • Luxury hotels have the highest charging uptake rate of 89.6%, and this decreases down the STR chain scale segments.

  • The top three metropolitan areas with the highest uptake rates are San Jose, CA (66.1%), Albany, NY (56.8%), and Portland, OR (56.3%)

One of the biggest benefits of installing EV charging stations in hotels is the ability to attract EV owners. Charging shouldn’t be a special privilege for the wealthiest of guests. In fact, because a hotel that provides EV charging for guests sets itself apart from others, that hotel becomes a magnet for EV drivers and creates a whole new niche market. Brand loyalty from eco-conscious guests means increased guest satisfaction, positive publicity, and increased media coverage, which can enhance the hotel’s visibility and create gestalt in which more guests select the brand.

There’s also an element of boosting profitability through charging, as hotels can set up a rate structure that generates revenue. While there are upfront costs and ongoing network fees associated with installing a charging station, the fees paid by EV drivers can offset that investment and generate some revenue from the station’s location. Both parties benefit.

Moreover, rental companies have responded to the growing demand for EVs by expanding their fleets, with the expectation that appropriate charging infrastructure is available for short- and long-term drivers. When these EV rental car vacationers and business travelers are looking for accommodations, they’ll want a hotel where they can plug in and charge up comfortably and without hassle.

Additionally, because so many hotels profess to have sustainability goals, it makes sense to offer EV charging for guests. LEED or GreenPoint certifications are a good start, but installing charging stations can boost hotel cumulative low-carbon performance quickly.

Importantly, by supporting EV adoption in the local community, hotels reduce air pollution, show allegiance with local businesses, and build stronger relationships with the people who live and work in the area. Installing EV charging stations as part of a sustainability and guest satisfaction strategy is a win-win situation.

Travel booking website Expedia has a special filter where potential travelers can locate hotels with EV charging. Airbnb is another site that has an EV charging filter, too, and representatives there said over 850,000 properties included it as an amenity in 2022. Tesla owners can also search the company’s website for Destination Charging stations at hotels across North America.

PlugShare — which has become my go-to charging station locator now that my family has added a non-Tesla EV to our fleet — has a hotel charging custom view.

ChargePoint has a plea on its site for the hospitality industry to consider adding EV charging to their list of amenities. They say such a service:

  • appeals to desirable guests who spend more, as EV drivers’ income is 2X the national average;

  • will bring frequent visits if your business gives EV drivers a place to charge;

  • establishes your brand as a sustainability leader because, by installing EV charging at your business, you signal to potential guests that you are ahead of your competitors; and,

  • has an excellent ROI, because networked EV charging lets drivers find you at no cost, and incentives and subscription pricing make it affordable for any business.

Even the US DOT offers a rationale why tourist destinations, too, should become site hosts for EV charging.

Is there hope for exponentially improved EV charging for guests at hotels? Sure. In fact, EV charging provider LNG Electric announced in May that it is partnering with design firm MD7 to place Level 2 and Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) EV charging stations at over 13,000 hotels and 40+ multi-family communities across the US. The planned installations will make LNG Electric one of the top 3 owner-operators of EV charging stations in the country.

Additionally, the AHLA has an initiative called Responsible Stay that asks members to adopt sustainable practices, including access to EV ports. They say that, from waste reduction and water conservation to energy efficiency and responsible sourcing, their members are working to provide employees, guests, and communities a responsible stay. Unfortunately, the program is voluntary and doesn’t track industry progress.

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