GTI: What’s the role of an energy consultant?
Kathie Bozzone: As an energy consultant specializing in the hospitality industry since 2003, my work usually begins with helping hotels manage their energy procurement needs. The challenge with hotels is that they often feel they can "handle" the energy procurement process themselves or by listening to the multitude of ‘sales’ people that approach them every day.
GTI: What do you mean by ‘sales’ people?
Kathie Bozzone: ‘Sales’ people usually represent a single provider and will do everything they can to try and convince hoteliers that the provider they represent is the best option for them, even if it isn’t. They’re not really invested in the best interests of their client; they’re just looking to earn their commission. In order to really get the best options available, a hotel needs to put their portfolio out to bid with an independent agent.
GTI: Why is having an independent consultant so important?
Kathie Bozzone: With an independent consultant, there’s no bias towards any one supplier. As an independent consultant, I’m able to bid out to multiple suppliers. And I don’t just look at the price – but the fine print as well. This provides my clients with an apples-to-apples price and terms comparison that delivers a clear picture as to which offer really is the best one to meet their needs. Because ultimately, my role as an energy consultant is to make sure clients are fully informed so they can make the right choice.
GTI: Is energy procurement your main driver?
Kathie Bozzone: Energy procurement is the common denominator. After all, energy is a tremendous part of a hotel’s annual budget and what business doesn’t want to lower those costs. With the property’s best interest at heart, I always go the extra mile – preparing my property management groups and individual hotel sites with not only an RFP, but also a recommendation specific to their needs, for their consideration.
The typical ‘sales’ person off the street isn’t really invested in a hotel’s overall best interest. They usually represent a single provider and will do everything they can to try and convince a hotelier that the provider they represent is the best option for them, even if it isn’t. But that’s also the end of the line – they have nothing else to offer. An energy consultant can look at the bigger picture and access a hotel’s complete energy picture, meaning opportunities for additional savings.
GTI: In your experience, what do hoteliers commonly overlook in their search for energy savings opportunities?
Kathie Bozzone: Fact is, most hoteliers focus on lowering the cost of their electricity alone to achieve an overall cost reduction in their utility bills. In doing this, they overlook other real opportunities to lower consumption. For example; solar, automatic room controls and lighting retrofits are a just a few areas that could also be part of their overall strategy.
GTI: So in your opinion, what is one of the biggest opportunities for hotels today in regards to energy?
Kathie Bozzone: Top on my list is energy efficiency (EE). Sometimes, hoteliers are hesitant to look into EE. They’re obviously concerned with the possibility of a significant capital outlay. But there are many options that will allow a hotel to gain greater energy efficiency, lower their bottom line utility costs and require only a limited capital outlay. The possibilities can start with a basic lighting upgrade, participating in their utility’s Demand Response program or putting in a variable frequency drive (VFD) for their elevators. There are so many options available – but if you don’t know about them, you can’t participate.
GTI: As an energy consultant, what is the most important message you’d like to deliver to hoteliers?
Kathie Bozzone: That an energy consultant is continually on the alert, looking for new technology and market opportunities that can help lower their costs; information that they may not be aware of from their vantage point. I work with a back office that is continually researching and staying ahead of the marketplace. For example, one of my clients is a large property management group with a number of very large facilities in several states, including Ohio. When Ohio, historically closed to electric options, suddenly re-opened in 2009, my support staff kept me informed, enabling me to be one of the first to notify clients. As a result, I was able to get pricing that saved them over 25% of their electric costs in the first year.
GTI: Are there any specific challenges you might face working with hotels?
Kathie Bozzone: One challenge that I often come across is when a hotel changes ownership. In a lot of instances, a new owner neglects to set up a D&B number for their new legal entity name. Suppliers are willing to provide lower pricing, more options and basically take a "risk" if the client has a good credit rating. So, it’s always recommended that the D&B number you are assigned has adequate credit/financial information. Then when providers look this up, they see that you are not a credit risk. And credit is a huge part of how energy suppliers do business.
Kathie Bozzone is an energy consultant with Alternative Utility Services, Inc., a licensed nationwide energy consulting company. In business since 1993, AUS provides energy brokerage and aggregation services. The company also offers a wide range of professional procurement and consulting services including electric, gas, energy efficiency, lighting retrofits, water conservation and onsite energy distributed generation on a no-investment basis.
This article first appeared on GreeningtheInn.com.
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