Can you imagine going to a library without internet access? Or to a theme park without snacks and refreshments? While there are ways that you could still enjoy your time there—you would likely walk away with a lasting impression of how lacking the facilities were. In fact, you might not even go there at all, knowing such services are missing.
Same. Thing. With. Hotel. Customers.
The reality is that customers across Europe are already starting to expect EV chargers everywhere they go. And as the number of EVs on our roads is rapidly growing, so will the expectations to find EV charging stations.
In fact, we recently ran a survey with Kantar and asked EV drivers about the importance of charging point availability in hotels, and only 5% said it doesn’t impact their booking decision.
Source: Kantar & Virta Survey 2022
To keep thriving in an ever more competitive space, professionals in the hospitality industry need to at least meet their customers’ minimum expectations.
A century ago, the minimum requirement probably was electricity.
Fifty years ago, it might have been accessing to TV.
Today, as EV sales are on the rise, offering EV charging services is becoming the new norm for hotel chains.
1.What EV charging is all about
We are well aware that EV charging is filled with complex terms and abbreviations. So, let us begin by covering key concepts and realities of the EV charging industry as we speak.
A quick EV charging digest for hoteliers
What is smart EV charging (and why hoteliers should care)
A common argument against EVs is the potential strain on the energy grid. And while it’s a valid concern, it’s (fortunately) not one that’s likely to materialise. And we have smart charging to thank for that.
Smart charging uses data-enabled cloud-based technology to adjust the way energy is being used based on the state of the energy grid. This means that when electric vehicles are plugged in, they only charge when it’s most efficient in terms of both cost and demand.
- For vehicle owners, this thoughtful timing means that they can benefit from lower-cost off-peak energy consumption.
- For the general public, this means that they don’t have to worry about grid vulnerabilities. The simultaneous charging of electric vehicles at once would otherwise threaten the dexterity of the electrical grid of both the UK and the European Union. Thankfully, with smart charging, electric vehicles are a power grid asset—not a threat.
For charging station owners, smart EV charging is also a way to reduce the energy bill by using the energy stored in EV batteries, thanks to the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
A note on V2G
With vehicle-to-grid, smart charging makes it possible to make use of the energy that’s stored in EVs. After all, EVs are giant batteries on wheels. This makes them an energy source of their own.
Through V2G, energy from the electric vehicle can be used to power the grid, a capability that is particularly useful in times of extreme demand. Electricity always takes the shortest path possible to where it’s needed, which makes it easy to allocate energy from a car battery efficiently.
For hotel chains, the benefit is two-fold.
- Happier customers: Give customers the possibility to plug their vehicles and benefit from lower prices.
- No blackout: In case of a power outage, V2G gives the insurance to always have a source of power for customers.
3 million public charging stations by 2030
The most obvious opportunity from a business perspective is the installation of charging stations. We counted around 175,000 public EV chargers across Europe as of 2019. By 2030, we expect to count just under 3 million.
30-minute fast charging technology makes EV driving a reality
It’s not just the availability of chargers that’s increasing—it’s their quality too.
Over time, we expect rapid chargers to replace conventional chargers across Europe. This is an essential shift in the EV revolution:
A fast charger makes it easier to refill batteries on the go and helps to alleviate range anxiety — or the idea that EVs don’t pack enough power to get drivers where they need to go without running out of power. In reality, one can already easily cross Europe by driving an electric vehicle by relying on fast and ultra-fast charging points.
As charging station numbers increase, this scenario becomes more and more practical.
The current state of EV charging infrastructure
To make the experience of owning and operating an electric vehicle just as convenient as an ICE model, charging stations need to be more common and more accessible. An increase in EV charging stations will save the EV driver from long queues at public stations.
Now, how many EV charging stations do we need, exactly?
The European Union sets out standards for a maximum number of EVs per Public Charging Point (PCP). This guideline ensures that all EV drivers can comfortably charge their EV.
Right now, most of Europe hovers around 7.5 EVs per PCP, and we expect to be anywhere between 11 and 14 EVs per Public Charging Point by 2030.
2. The EV market is booming worldwide
More and more people across Europe and the world are turning their backs on conventional ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) automobiles in favour of electric vehicles (EVs). Not only are EVs the more environmentally sound choice, but they also make more financial sense than ever in the wake of sky-rocketing gas prices. It also helps that electric and conventional cars are expected to reach price parity within the next 2 to 3 years.
With more EVs on the roads, we as a society will see a significant increase in the need for EV-friendly infrastructure. If private at-home chargers certainly make up a big part of this market, there is also a pressing need for EV chargers in public places like shopping malls, community centres and, of course, hotels.
The EV market is growing (much) faster than anticipated
Electric vehicles are on an impressive growth trajectory. Their popularity is rising quicker than anticipated, and it's a success that’s still in its infancy.
It’s a shift you’ve likely noticed in your personal life. If owning an electric vehicle was once only the matter of a select handful, most people now know somebody driving an electric vehicle.
Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the registration of electric cars was up in 2020 across all major markets. It was also in 2020 that Europe overtook China as the world’s foremost electric vehicle market, where EVs accounted for 10% of the total market share.
The year 2021 saw electric vehicles reach a world record of 6.6 million units sold.
This means that there were more electric vehicles sold per week in 2021 than were sold in all of 2012. The appetite for electrification exists on a wide scale—so how do we build a world that accounts for it?
Higher gas prices mean faster EV sales
The latest geopolitical developments and the war raging on in Ukraine are creating unprecedented tensions on fossil fuel and gas prices. And we already see an upward trend in consumer intentions to purchase an electric vehicle to save money in the long run.
3. Why EV growth presents new opportunities for Hotel chains
First things first, your customers are most likely already asking for it.
Meet your customer's new needs and habits
No one will feel this expectation as acutely as hoteliers. In order to stay relevant among the competition, hotels across Europe and the United Kingdom already need to include EV infrastructure in their amenities.
Turn clients into returning clients
Though we predict a future where EV charging facilities are the norm across hotels of every calibre, there is still time to attract a loyal clientele through early implementation. Not only will the presence of EV chargers set you apart from the rest and allow you to attract more clients, but it will also help to increase customer loyalty which will result in repeat visitors.
One way to ensure the success of your return customer rate is to integrate EV charging services into your customer loyalty programs. By offering EV charging as part of your hotel services (the way you would a buffet breakfast or athletic centre), you offer your guests a seamless experience and ensure the blanket satiation of your guests’ needs.
Attract new customers
By definition, hotel guests tend to come from afar.
Fortunately, thanks to the power of roaming, their vehicle should still be able to connect to your hotel’s chargers. Much like cell phone roaming, which enables you to use your device when you’re outside of your home area by connecting to nearby cell towers, EV roaming relies on the cooperation of EV charging companies that allow customers from outside of their respective networks to connect.
It’s only the beginning.
Keep in mind that travellers who rent a car near your hotel will be more and more likely to rent an electric car in the near future. Hotels that lack electric vehicle charging facilities will miss out on these customers.
Generate new revenue streams
Smart EV charging won’t only increase the attractivity of your hospitality business, but it also presents an opportunity to create new revenue streams.
By offering what we can call a ‘charge while you stay’ package, you could attract guests who may have not otherwise stayed at your hotel.
In fact, some guests may plan their travels around where they know they have access to a reliable charging platform—if this includes you, you can easily include your charging stations in your Unique Selling Points (USPs).
Diversify your revenue sources
Even if your guests aren’t staying overnight, they will likely stay on your property and spend more money at your hotel (at the restaurant, bar, or spa) if they’re waiting for their vehicle to charge.
To make a long story short, we definitely expect to see an uptick in ‘while you wait’ activities that hotels with EV chargers can offer.
4. The world needs major industries to accelerate: that includes hospitality
Help stabilise the electricity grid
As we move towards electric mobility, we’ll ask for more from the electricity grid.
A congested grid is not simply a matter of convenience. Instead, it can have very real impacts, especially if it means large populations of people are without access to heating and cooling systems during extreme weather events (which are becoming more frequent due to climate change).
To understand how EVs could help stabilise the grid, you need to know that electricity always takes the shorter route to where it’s needed first. Now, remember: EVs are giant batteries on wheels. So, in the event of a power outage, or grid overload due to a higher demand, we could use EV batteries as local sources of power and, therefore, release the pressure on the electricity grid in periods of high demand.
Reduce the devastating effects of climate change
The UN’s latest message to policymakers is clear: the clock is ticking quicker than expected, and we need to take action now, before it’s too late. In other words, we must achieve decarbonisation to fight climate change.
However, in order to achieve decarbonisation, we need to develop enough infrastructure to support an increase in environmentally-friendly electric vehicles. See where the predicament lies?
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. And if you own or manage a hotel (or even a hotel chain), you have more power to make a difference than you may realise. You’re already making eco-conscious choices in the way you run your hotel operations. But you can make an even bigger impact by enabling the electric vehicle revolution. ICE cars, after all, contribute to 71.1% of transportation pollution in Europe.
Reduce your carbon footprint
Finally, by investing in electric vehicle infrastructure, you could establish your brand as a sustainability leader in an industry that is in need of guidance. The hotel industry already accounts for 1% of all worldwide carbon emissions, and this is a number that’s set to increase with time.
As a player in the industry, you have the power to shape attitudes and standards at a time when it matters most.
5. EV Charging for hoteliers: how to get started?
Sold on the idea of offering EV charging at your hotel, but unsure of where to begin? Here’s a big-picture overview of how you could start.
Installing EV chargers
At a minimum, you’ll want to choose a provider who follows the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). This will ensure that you have a symbiosis between software and hardware and will help your charging equipment stay relevant in the future.
You’ll also want to make sure that your partner allows you to brand your EV charging services (stations and app) as you see fit. If you lack this option, you won’t be able to get as much brand awareness out of the product as you had initially hoped.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that your partner is a part of an open roaming network so that drivers from far and wide will have access to your chargers.
Responsibilities and maintenance of EV charger operators
Both EMSP (e-Mobility Service Provider) and CPO (Charge Point Operators) are fundamental parts of the charging network. EMSPs offer EV charging to EV drivers, and CPOs offer charging points to EMSPs. They have different customer bases, which means that they have slightly different responsibilities.
EMSPs are responsible for guiding EV drivers to charging stations and processing their payments. They can also connect drivers to outside networks when roaming.
CPOs, on the other hand, ensure that the entire EV charger network is operational. They are also responsible for making sure that their network is taking advantage of all of the latest smart charging and bidirectional capabilities. In other words, they need to make sure that their EV charging network is scalable.
Virta Charging Business as a Service
Offering an electric charging service from the ground up is a costly and overwhelming endeavour. Virta is a subscription-based model, which means that you don’t need to worry about expensive startup costs. We offer turnkey solutions that include hardware delivery, installation, and maintenance. Of course, we’ll give you the necessary software too.
Virta’s end-to-end charging solutions make it easier than ever to offer EV charging as a guest amenity. Hoteliers don’t need to worry about anything except how they’re going to integrate EV charging in their current service ecosystem to meet and exceed their customers’ new needs.