Hello real estate investors, hoteliers, and owners, Let’s have open dialogue on whether it’s worth your time and expense installing electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE), more commonly known as car charging stations at hotels, motels, and lodging properties.
Full Service Hotels:
Full Service hotels are notoriously known to offer extra amenities that go above and beyond to cover just about any guest’s needs or wants, so why is electric fuel for a guest’s vehicle the exception? Some examples of full service hotels would be Intercontinental, Ritz Carlton, and Hilton. And while full service hotels have giant payrolls and several of the amenities are quite burdensome on owners—financially, full service hotels are also notorious to charge extra money for just about everything. The typical guest profile that chooses to stay at full service hotels are not price conscious, rather they are seeking accommodations that offers luxury beyond basic lodging, and they are willing to pay for it.
Some of the benefits of having electric car charging stations at full service hotels is primarily the ability to serve a guest that requires overnight lodging. However, it can also serve and attract guest that would otherwise be there for day purposes, eg.) conference, lunch meeting, dinner reception, etc. It gives the general public a tempting reason to meet a visitor, colleague, or client at the hotel restaurant/bar. A non-lodging guest is able to have their car battery charge while they host a meeting or business lunch. Obviously, the availability of car charging stations is a good reason for a family or individual to pick that property for their overnight accommodations. The main thing to realize is that car charging stations indirectly help bring revenue into all departments including food & beverage, conference rooms, and overnight lodging.
Limited Service Hotels:
Limited Service hotels seem to be the most perfect solution for small business travelers. Examples of limited service hotels are; Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Fairfield Inn. These efficient rectangle boxes are well packaged with all the necessary modern elements of business travel. These hotels typically offer fitness rooms, 24-hour business centers, free hot breakfast, free wi-fi, and free parking! Electric vehicle car charging becomes a very attractive value proposition for anyone that is driving an electric vehicle. If limited service hotels are investing in better fitness centers and better computers for their business center, it certainly makes a lot of sense to offer car charging stations to stand apart from competitors. The amount of electricity consumed is often negligible, and yet it brings tremendous revenue potential and competitive advantage to the hotel.
Extended Stay Hotels:
Extended Stay hotels are typically for corporate travelers on assignment for more than 30+ days. It’s also a great hotel product for a family that’s in between homes because the guest suites are larger and they have kitchenettes for basic cooking ability. Typically, corporate travelers treat these properties more like an apartment rather than a hotel stay, it becomes their home away from home. Having the ability to charge their electric car battery during an extended stay becomes paramount. An extended stay traveler that drives an electric car will almost have to pick a hotel based on the availability of electric car charging stations. It makes a lot of sense for Staybridge, Residence Inn, and Home2 branded hotels to offer EVSE on premises.
Some hotels have started to gravitate towards very special niche markets, eg.) Marriott Moxy, Hilton’s Curio Collection, and Kimpton hotels are all excellent boutique properties. These swanky hotels typically attract very forward thinking and higher income folks. These are the same folks who are most likely to already own electric vehicles, and many of them are likely to rally behind the environmental cause, but also the fact that they can afford electric cars which typically range from $60k – $150k. Electric vehicles are still quite costly compared to normal gasoline powered cars, for now. Boutique properties tend to charge more money than most other hotels, so hopefully you can see where I’m going with this. Electric car charging stations is very fitting for boutique and lifestyle hotels.
What are common problems at hotels that purchase and install car charging stations without consulting a professional firm like National Car Charging?
Problem #1: Often times, a hotel owner or management team installs the biggest, fastest, and strongest electric car charging equipment that they can find. This is a major problem because they’re missing the point. If the vehicle charges up too quickly, the driver will likely lose their motivation to rent a room for overnight accommodations. Remember, the goal is to bring revenue into the hotel, not to let people charge up their cars and leave quickly. We recommend installing car charging stations that offer a maximum of 32amps of power. This amount of power supply tends to satisfy EV drivers and also encourages them to check-into the hotel and rest up while the car is fully charged late into the night.
Problem #2: Larger and medium-sized hotels have a hard time distinguishing between a guest car and some random car from the local town trying to get free electricity at the expense of the business owner. How do we prevent abuse from non-hotel guest? There are manufacturers and specific type of car charging stations that offer some form of authorization, whether it’s through a mobile app, internet software, or swiping an RFID card, the hotel management staff needs some form of control over who can use the car charging stations, and who cannot.
Are there Solutions to the Problems?
Yes, contact a professional retailer like National Car Charging that can review the number of parking spots/guest rooms that your hotel offers and we can make a thoughtful recommendation on the perfect type of car charging station that fits your guest needs and keeps the owner’s equipment cost low. We can also help you get your property listed on federal directories/GPS.
Top recommendations to the Hotelier Community:
Load Management Software & Construction
- This terminology simply means allowing two cars to charge simultaneously with the same infrastructure cost. Typically, each car charging station requires 6 guage wire and a connection to a 40amp circuit breaker inside your circuit panel. Older properties sometimes do not have enough empty slots in their circuit panel, or they don’t want to tie up so many circuits in their panel. Therefore, specific car charging stations offer load management software, which allows two ports to connect to the same circuit breaker/panel and the software is intelligent enough to realize when two cars are trying to charge at the same time. If that happens, the software will reduce the power by half to each port.
Not too strong!
- Charging station manufacturers have been offering stronger and faster charging capabilities and sometimes hotel owners fall into the trap of thinking that faster and stronger charging will reflect better on the quality of their property. While most electric vehicle drivers will appreciate the faster charging times, this will not lead to additional revenue at your property. If the charging times are too fast, the electric car driver will likely charge up and leave. The primary goal of offering electric vehicle car charging at your hotel property is to get the driver to become a hotel guest and capture guestroom/restaurant revenue.
Tesla Destination Charging gives car chargers away for free, should I install them?
- This is a bad idea for two primary reasons. First, these chargers typically distribute 40amps of power, which is generally too strong for capturing hotel revenue purposes. Second, these chargers are exclusively designed for Tesla vehicles, cutting out several dozen other auto manufacturers like BMW, Lexus, Chevrolet, and Range Rover from being able to use the equipment. Lastly, these chargers will never allow you to charge money for distributing electricity, should you choose to embrace that strategy in the future.
Offer free electricity to guest only!
- Specific car charging stations enable the owner to set rates and charge money for dispensing electricity. The cost of electricity is much cheaper than gasoline and therefore we typically recommend hotel owners to offer free charging and try to capture room revenue or bar/restaurant revenue. It’s best to offer it like another free amenity to set yourself apart from the competition and you’ll get great reviews. Many car charging stations offer mobile app control or RFID cards that can be managed by the front desk to ensure only someone that rents a room receives access to the charging station. You can also set special rates, often higher price than rack rate for a guest that is staying at your property because you offer electric car charging. Please keep in mind that most electric car drivers will make a reservation by calling the property directly instead of booking on an OTA, which subsequently saves the hotel owner from having to pay hefty commissions.
How much does it cost to purchase and install car charging stations at my hotel?
- The equipment cost varies between $1,500 – $3,000 per port. The installation cost varies depending on the location and distance of your parking lot to your circuit panel which is usually located inside your hotel. Obviously, longer distance runs will cost more because it requires more wire and trenching. But as of today, there are approximately eleven states that offer some form of subsidy or economic incentive to purchase and install this technology at your hotel. These incentives can sometimes reduce your cost by as much as 80%. Contact us now to find out if your hotel is eligible for any type of economic incentives to reduce your cost.
This blog article was written by Bhavik Dani, Director of Business Development for National Car Charging, LLC with a focus on hospitality/hotel applications. Bhavik has years of experience with hotel development with brands like Hilton, IHG, and Marriott and is familiar with appropriate product selection from various charging station manufacturers. If you have any questions about your hotel property or State/Federal incentive funding to install this technology at your hotel, feel free to call him at (866) 996-6387-extension 708.