Towel reuse in hotels: Importance of normative appeal designs

Tourism Management

Stefan Gössling, Jorge E. Araña, J. Teresa Aguiar-Quintana (2018): Towel reuse in hotels: Importance of normative appeal designs.  In: Tourism Management, volum 70 (2019) p. 273-283


Laundry is a major factor in hotel fresh water use. Pro-environmental appeals to encourage tourists to reuse towels and bed linen have received much attention in the literature, though findings have remained inconclusive. This paper presents the results of a large field experiment with 21,000 observations in seven hotels catering to the sun, sand & sea leisure tourism market in Gran Canaria, Spain. Findings suggest that comprehensive message designs can increase towel reuse by 6.8% and bed linen reuse by 1.2%, compared to existing inroom messages. Results also show that nationality, age, length of stay, repeat visits, temperature, and hotel standard influence participation levels. The field experiment confirms that normative appeals can trigger significant behavioural change. Evidence suggests, however, that social norm generation may be a more promising avenue to changing behaviour than norm adherence.