BFW picWe do a lot of traveling for our speaking engagements, and lately, no matter what hotel we stay in, we get a notice in the bathroom that says something like, “Please help us conserve water by hanging up the towels you wish to reuse. If you would like them replaced, leave them on the floor.” Then there’s usually another notice in the bedroom that says we can save even more water by keeping the same sheets for the length of our stay, or we can get them changed daily if we want.

These are great opportunities for guests to do their part to reduce the need for water by basically doing what they do at home anyway, use the same towel and sheets for several days instead of getting clean sheets and towels every day. Some hotels say simply that sheets will be changed only if you ask, making the assumption that you don’t mind not having clean sheets every day.

In the restaurants, we are seeing more signs that say drinking water will only be provided upon request. This is an attempt to save the water not only in the glass, but the water necessary to clean the glasses.

We are avid conservationists and laud those guests that make the choice to stick with the same linens for several days and customers who don’t order water if they don’t intend to drink it. But we believe even more folks would make the right choice if the cost of the room was reduced by at least a percentage of the savings to the hotel. After all, it’s not just water that being saved, its labor, power, and maintenance. All these savings now benefit only the hotel. So in effect, when you opt to save water, the hotel saves more money due to your decision than a guest that does not.

We think this is not only unfair, but misses a real opportunity to make a bigger difference in water conservation. For instance, if there was a discount on a room if guests opted to use the same towels and linens for the duration of their stay, would more guests take advantage of the discount? We think so. “Water Conservation Rooms” would reward the guest for doing the right thing instead of charging them the same as heavier water users.

Likewise, discounting for not ordering water at restaurants would give customers a consideration especially when they get water they don’t order and don’t touch. Do you think hotels and restaurants should make money on conservationists, or should they share the dollar savings to really promote good conservation habits?

We are firm believers that if you want to get something done, put a buck on it. In the west where we live we are in the midst of a 4-year drought. If it continues, fines will be levied for water wasters. Already there are restrictions being put in place to regulate water usage. These restrictions and fines are like the “stick.” Isn’t it time we also offered a “carrot?” Folks want to save a buck when they do the right thing. They want their purchase to makes dollars and sense!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

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