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About the author

Caravelle HotelSince early 2007, John Gardner has been general manager of the Caravelle. A Kiwi from Christchurch, his career includes years of general management in China, as well as stints in Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore and Australia. Saigon is his best post yet.

A Series of Firsts

Post by John Gardner, General Manager, the Caravelle Hotel

In Hotel, Travel 

 | On 30-08-2012
Lobby of Caravelle Hotel

Back when the Caravelle opened its doors on Christmas Eve of 1959, it was not only the tallest hotel the city, it was the only one boasting bulletproof glass windows, a backup generator and air-conditioning. All very avant-garde inventions at the time.

Last month, the Caravelle brought another first to Vietnam.

If you check into the hotel today, you’ll see we’ve abandoned the old “sign-here-and-here” sheet for a digital tablet and stylus. As well, there are no more passport photocopies. We scan those straight into our computer. And when you leave, your invoice is more likely to be a file in your inbox than two sheets of paper stapled together.

In short, we’ve launched the first paperless check-in and checkout system in the country’s hospitality industry.

Just how much paper are we saving? Each month the hotel processes some 3,500 arrivals, on average. With the entire system of registration, copying, receipts and envelopes that’s at least five pieces of paper per guest (or 17,500 sheets a month) that are no longer being consumed by our reception desk.

That’s not an overwhelming number in itself, but after only one month of paperless check-ins, we’re already seeing a significant drop in our paper waste. Ultimately, we’d like to implement this system not only at the reception desk but in all our F&B outlets, as well.

I’ve always looked at environmental protection as a series of steps. Several years ago the hotel decided to take that first step. Since then, each move we’ve made –- like this paperless system -- has led to where we are now: One of only three hotels in the country with Silver Certification from the internationally recognised EarthCheck Program, and gaining ground every day. 

In fact, when the EarthCheck benchmarking team visited the hotel earlier this year to review that rating, they found nine out of 11 of the hotel’s key indicators at best practice levels or above.

What’s more, and this came as a surprise even to me, the report for 2011 revealed that the hotel had managed to cut back on its consumption of diesel oil, water and electricity per guest night, even while room occupancy grew. In 2011 the Caravelle managed an 8% reduction in diesel oil, an 8% reduction in water consumption, and a 2% reduction in electricity, while occupancy was 8% higher than 2010.

I find these numbers heartening. To me they are proof that a hospitality property can be at once fashionable and responsible, cutting-edge and conscientious.