As the United States and the rest of the world transitions to electric vehicles (EVs), businesses must accommodate EV charging to remain competitive. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company expects EV sales to grow by 25% annually through 2030, when about 120 million EVs will be sold. To support these millions of electric vehicles, residential, workplace, on-the-go, and destination charging stations are needed to support EV drivers wherever they may go. Here’s what hotel and resort owners and managers need to know about planning electric vehicle charging for hospitality.
Why Drivers Need EV Charging at Hotels and Resorts
While 80% of all charging takes place at home, drivers need on-the-go and destination charging when traveling for work or recreation. Mostly served by Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) which can typically charge a fully-electric vehicle in under an hour, on-the-go charging can be compared to stopping at the gas station to fill up an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. This type of charging would likely be found at retailers, truck stops, and roadside convenience stores, where EV drivers will exit the highway for a meal or rest stop before continuing their journey.
Conversely, destination charging is needed at a traveler’s final destination, such as a hotel, resort, or conference center. EV drivers at these locations will charge while they sleep, attend a business meeting, or join a conference. All kinds of guests may stay at a hotel, meaning that Level 2 charging stations that are compatible with first generation plug-in hybrids and the newest battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are needed at destinations.
Step 1: Gauge Demand
Eventually every hotel room may require a Level 2 charger, but a staged approach to your EV charging infrastructure installation will help you save money. It can be difficult to determine the correct number of charging stations you’ll need this year, and that’s where conducting market research with your guests will pay off.
According to the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), these are the top 10 states for BEV registrations as of December 2022.
- New Jersey
- New York
Especially if you are located in or near these states, your guests are likely already bringing electric vehicles to your destination. But these are not the only states with EV drivers. Gauge your property’s demand with a guest survey that includes questions such as: whether they own an EV, if they plan on purchasing one within the next five or 10 years, and how important it is to them that a hotel provides EV charging options.
Remember that even if guests don’t own an EV now, they may still prefer hotels that provide sustainable amenities such as EV charging. In fact, 78% of luxury travelers say they prefer doing business with companies with strong sustainability policies, and 75% of travelers say they would be willing to pay more for eco-friendly options if they knew how the funds were being used.
Surveying your guests can help you determine how many chargers you need now and in the future.
Step 2: Assess Your Site
Once you know how many charging stations your hotel needs now, you’ll want to schedule a site assessment with your preferred EV charging station provider, electrical contractor, and facilities director. In this meeting, your team will discuss your goals with EV charging, current electrical capabilities, the ideal locations for your EV chargers, and permitting. The best EV charging stations for hotels will include a cloud-based management software, like the Blink Charging Network, that allows you to manage station access and pricing via wifi or 4G cellular connection. Depending on your parking structure, you may need to install a cellular repeater or include electrical upgrades in your site work budget. Remember: ask your electrician if your electrical infrastructure can support all of the Level 2 chargers that you wish to install. Note that the National Electrical Code (NEC), Section 625 requires dedicated circuits for charging stations.
Need more charging stations than your electrical supply allows? Consider using local load management, which allows several chargers to use the same electrical circuit. The available power on the circuit is divided among all the chargers in use on that circuit.
Step 3: Choose Charging Locations
Based on the results of your site walk, your facilities manager and electrical contractor will decide the specific charging station location that meets your charging needs and keeps costs as low as possible.
There are several ways to reduce costs, such as placing your chargers as close as possible to a power source, such as an electrical room. Parking spaces that are closest to the building, such as those next to your accessible parking spaces, are usually the most cost-effective charging spaces because they are closer to the electrical panel. While parking spaces further from the building may be more visible from a highway, the longer distance means more trenching, more wiring, and more conduits.
When selecting a charging station location, it’s also important to consider the data communications. For locations that cannot utilize a wifi connection due to internal IT policies or practical wifi reach, 4G cellular connections are standard for networked charging. Parking garages and locations with obstructed signals may require a cellular booster to ensure adequate cell signal for the charging stations.
Step 4: Select Your Charging Stations
Each business is different, and your hotel or resort will have its own unique needs for EV charging. Some resorts or vacation homes may prefer to assign a charging station to each guest bedroom, but it is more likely that your managers will instead add charging stations to a valet or general parking lot.
With assigned or valet parking, your business would include EV charging as a room fee or valet service. EV drivers (or valet drivers) could authorize a charging session at a Level 2 charger like the Blink Series 7 using an RFID card or mobile application. If your hotel offers an airport shuttle service, your electric shuttle bus could also use the same charging stations.
For public or general guest parking, your team needs the ability to set pricing, manage access, and view session analytics. The Blink Series 8, a Level 2 charging station with a physical credit card reader, is designed for businesses where EV drivers might pay with a credit card. While guests can also charge with an RFID card or mobile app, the credit card reader creates a more seamless charging experience. Guests can use them as needed and pay whatever fees you set for their use.
For your own hotel/resort fleet charging, you may want to consider having at least one DCFC, like the Blink Series 9 30kW DC Fast Charging Station, to ensure your fleet vehicles can get charged quickly when they are needed. The Blink 60kW-360kW DC Fast Charging Stations are excellent public-use DCFCs. Note that while you can charge a premium fee for DCFC usage, they also require a greater investment and will almost certainly require electrical upgrades to your site.
Step 5: Join the Network
Once you have selected the right charging station, make sure you have selected a Blink Network subscription, which gives you control over access, pricing, and usage reports. With the Blink Network, you can create groups of users and assign different pricing to those groups. For example, you may offer discounted charging fees to members of your loyalty program, then have a separate group for public users.
Blink also allows you to customize your pricing. In addition to kWh energy and duration-based pricing, you can also customize your plan with time-of-day and hybrid options. With time-of-day pricing, you can encourage charging during off-peak utility hours when electricity is cheapest.
Being connected to the Blink Network also means your chargers will show up in the Blink Charging Mobile App and other popular EV charging apps such as PlugShare.
Step 6: Procure Funding
The US federal government has various funding programs to help businesses install chargers, and your Blink sales manager can help you identify any federal or state funding you may be eligible for. To get a headstart, you can use the Blink Commercial Incentives tool, which will show you federal or state funding based on your zip code. If your hotel is located within one mile of a highway, you may also qualify for the federal NEVI program.
Getting started with EV charging for your hotel or resort need not be complicated. With an experienced electrification company like Blink Charging, you can minimize the complexity and be prepared for the future with as little disruption to your business as possible. Ready to get started? Contact the Blink Charging team to schedule a meeting with your electrification expert.