Raquel Noboa from Fifty Shades Greener has worked in the Hospitality industry for the past 21 years, working in hotels around the world since the age of 17. She knows the industry well, the challenges it faces and the mind-set barriers to greening a Hospitality business.
Raquel Started her own Green Journey at Hotel Doolin, in Ireland. She was working there as the Sales & Marketing manager in 2012 when the Hotel decided to start a Green Hospitality programme and Raquel was chosen as the new Hotel Green Manager. Within 2 years implementing Raquel’s green actions, they reduced their Energy by 30%, waste by 40% and water by 25%. They also won every win award in Ireland and she positioned the Hotel as a leader in the Sustainable travel market.
“This is when the idea started forming in my head, if I could achieve those results at Hotel Doolin, how about teaching others how to get started just like I did? And that’s how Fifty Shades Greener was born.”
Raquel has an Ecotourism Diploma from the University of Washington, but her approach to greening and sustainability is a very different way than what other Green programmes might offer. Her training is based on simple actions that will reduce the use of Energy, Water and Waste in a business, a festival or a community group.
Raquel believes in small wins, and going at your own pace, because Greening should not make people jump through hoops, it is about knowing the environmentally sound options that are available, and applying those actions that make sense to each business. Starting small, get the big wins, and then look at possible investment projects to become even greener.
Contrary to the perception of many business owners, Raquel firmly believes that Greening a business will not only reduce its Carbon Footprint, but it will also reduce their Utility bills, therefore saving money directly off the bottom line of a business.
"I try to make sustainability make sense to business owners. The road to Greening a business can be quite daunting. I firmly believe businesses can be encouraged to take small steps that can generate big results. Society is changing, an sustainability in the industry is now a must. The Hospitality Industry needs to align itself to the values of their customers. Greening your Hotel or Restaurant is easier than you think, it will give you more exposure, more clients and therefore more profit. "
Raquel has completed the Female High Flyers Entrepreneurs programme with the DCU Ryan Academy, an Enterprise Ireland funded programme to accelerate the growth of high potential start ups in Ireland.
"When I studied Hotel Management, I learned how to control my staff wages and how to set budgets and forecasts for my business. Nobody ever told me that I would find myself managing the actual building that my business sits in! Aside from wages, Energy, Water and Waste account for the biggest expenses over the calendar year. By reducing your energy consumption by just 10%, the €€ savings can be huge. If you don't believe me, get all your energy bills for last year and add them up. Now imagine you could take back just 10% of that. Worth it? The 50 Shades Greener Programme assumes you do not know anything about running a green business. It is the starting point for anyone looking to improve the management of their resources. By itself, it will not save the world or the polar bears but it is a stepping stone towards green certification programmes and it is an easy -to-follow guide that everyone can apply to their business."
"As the initiator of the EPA “Green Hospitality Programme”, which was one of Europe’s best performing responsible tourism marques, I had special interest in properties that were not only engaging with the programme, but exceeding some elements of the scheme and always involved in innovation and developing new offerings that increased business at their properties, but also minimised the environmental impact. Certainly the Hotel Doolin fell into this category. The hotel has reached Platinum level which is outstanding. Much of the good work carried out there is due to the vision, and innovation of Ms Raquel Noboa, The Green Manager at Doolin, backed by a supportive management team and dedicated, and well-motivated staff. The hotel had nominated Raquel twice for the Irish Hospitality Institute “Environmental Manager of the Year”, of which I also judge, and after narrowly missing out at the first time of asking, we were delighted when she was successful the following year. The work being done at Doolin, including holding her own environmentally friendly wedding there, was again excellent. "