Whenever we speak to hotels and restaurants about bottling their own water, the two most frequent responses are that guests might not be confident with the taste, quality or hygiene of the water and that the business will lose an important income stream. Depending on the circumstances of the business, neither of these need to be a concern.
Not all businesses sell bottled water to their guests, hotels in particular may provide bottled water free of charge on arrival in guest rooms, bottles may even be replaced free of charge throughout the guests' stay and be offered as part of an all-inclusive service. Where this is the case, businesses can quickly see a return on investment from not having to continue to purchase bottled water in order to fulfill these requirements.
It is illegal in most countries in the Eurozone to charge customers for tap water, however some brands of ultra-purified water that work with their own filtering system can guarantee a water with its own identity, often equal to or better quality than the water brands that we find in supermarkets. Of course, when companies install systems like these, they are allowed to charge for water.
It can often be difficult for people to grasp the logic behind this, we recommend thinking of it in this way: Many of the water brands that you know and trust have patented filter technology that allows them to achieve the same taste and quality no matter the original source of the water. The difference is that the innovative new water brands such as Vero Water have created their own patented filter technology at a size that enables it to fit easily into an operational area of a hotel or restaurant business.
This approach brings significant benefits including cost savings, energy saving spaces and environmental benefits, a positive reputation and where necessary, it enables your business to maintain its revenue stream.
We've highlighted our Top 8 benefits of bottling your own water on site with Vero Water (in no particular order) here:
Eliminate single-use plastic bottles
It is estimated that the world's population consumes around 1 million plastic bottles every single minute, and whilst these bottles are made from materials that are generally easy to recycle, only 9% of the plastic that has ever been produced has actually been recycled in practice. Serving purified water in bottles made from glass or reusable plastic eliminates the need for single-use plastic bottles altogether.
Avoid transport emissions
Significant amounts of fossil fuels are used to transport goods around the planet. Bottled water needs to be transported from the bottling plant to the customer, and depending on the material, plastic bottles will be transported to waste management sites if they haven't already become pollution, and glass bottles may be returned to the supplier for refill. Whilst glass bottles avoid plastic pollution, they are heavier and their constant back and forth between the customer and the supplier generates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.
Maintain an income stream
When mains water is filtered through specialist technology as is the case with Vero Water, it can be sold to customers. It is no different to stocking a high street brand of bottled water. The retail price can be decided by the hotel or restaurant business, although the water company will generally suggest what they believe to be a fair retail price depending on their own positioning within the bottled water market.
Save space and avoid refrigeration
Cool still and sparkling water can be served upon request directly from the machine which means no additional refrigeration is required, in turn saving on costs and emissions. In businesses with a high turnover it may be wise to pre-fill bottles before a meal service and refrigerate those, but this will be a small number in comparison to the number of plastic bottles that would usually be in refrigerators. Bear in mind that sparkling water should be pre-filled no more than 4 hours before it is intended to be used. Additional space savings are gained due to not having to store large volumes of bottled water or empty bottles that may be waiting return to the supplier or collection by a waste management company.
Easy for staff
In the beginning, staff may be concerned that bottling water on site will be time consuming however, hotels and restaurants working with the system often find it is a more efficient use of time. Whereas staff would previously need to fetch bottled water from stores, unpacking and loading them into refrigerators, this is no longer necessary. Most systems deliver water quickly, taking only a few seconds to fill a bottle, and probably the same time as it would take to retrieve a bottle from the fridge.
Some hotels achieve time efficiencies by involved the night teams in the filling of bottles (although this may require subsequent refrigeration to keep water cool before service). Similarly, the night team can take responsibility for ensuring bottles are placed into dishwashers, dried and stored ready for the following day.
If plastic bottles were previously used, time is also saved by not having to collect and separate them for recycling.
Where water is provided free of charge to customers, cost savings are generated from no longer having to purchase bottled water, and in the event of plastic bottles being used previously, cost savings should also be generated from not having to pay for so much plastic waste to be removed from the premises. It is important to bear in mind that cost savings are not likely for businesses serving less than 24 bottles of water per day, however that business will still enjoy the environmental and reputational benefits associated with the switch.
In our experience it is true to say that there is higher customer confidence in a "brand" of bottled water than there is in a bottle that bears the name of the establishment where it is being served. Filtration companies whose business model is more centered on being a water brand are unlikely to allow businesses to use their own logos on the bottles for this very reason, although co-branding may be an option. The logic behind is that customers come to trust a brand, they know what taste profile to expect, and they know they are guaranteed a good quality of water, this creates increased confidence in accepting water that is bottled on site and helps to drive a more conscious choice.
It is also worth highlighting the reputational risk if branded plastic bottles are littered. It creates a very poor image of the hotel and may even be picked up by the press.
You don't have to stop working with other water brands
Just because you bottle your own water on site doesn't mean that you have to stop working with other water brands, you can include the water that is bottled on site on the menu and price it accordingly. This is particularly useful for premises who work with suppliers whose beer and water brands are interlinked. Depending on how you promote the water, cost savings and return on investment may be quicker or slower, but what is clear is that it doesn't have to be an either/or situation. Some hotels and restaurants use economic strategies such as the so-called 'Decoy Effect' in their menus to guide their customers to the most sustainable choice, for example, making the ultra-purified water more appealing in price.