Prioritizing our Planet: Make a Difference with these 4 Sustainable Hotel Practices
After being put on the back burner for a bit, sustainability is back on the travelers’ agenda. Read our suggestions on how to make sustainable hotel practices a priority.
A hot topic even before the pandemic, sustainability had to make space for more pressing and immediate challenges. During the thick of COVID-19, the number one priority for travelers and hoteliers alike shifted to health & safety. More single-use items were incorporated into the hotels’ daily operations to ensure effective prevention and to comply with unprecedented regulations. Cups, plates, sanitizing wipes, and masks were among the things that facilitated the disinfection process.
Now that many regions are recovering, COVID-19 is no longer the number one concern for travelers and hoteliers alike. Efforts can now be put back into sustainable practices and how small changes can make a big impact.
More People Are Looking for Ways to Travel Sustainably
90% of travelers search for sustainable options for their trips.
According to Expedia, the most popular options are those with a low environmental impact, those that promote local communities and cultures, and those who are offering support to local businesses.
5 out of 10 travelers are willing to pay more for sustainable travel options.
Consumers are open to allocating more budget for eco-friendly and sustainable options. 55% would spend more on food, 53% on activities and experiences, and 51% on transportation and lodging.
7 out of 10 consumers feel overwhelmed by the process of beginning to travel sustainably.
While there is an increasing interest in traveling sustainably, most consumers get stuck in the planning phase, unsure what to search, or how to distinguish between credible initiatives and beautifully wrapped-up marketing stories. You can make a difference as a hotelier - by committing to actions with real impact and showcasing your results, certifications, or badges since the booking phase.
The Topic of Sustainability in Guest Reviews
Sustainability is more than a criterion for selecting the next stay. Our analysis of English reviews from our global database shows that the topic of sustainability is also essential in the post-stay phase. After two pandemic years, sustainability slowly comes back and is mentioned more in guest reviews.
*data includes the number of mentions of the following keywords: eco, plastic, eco-friendly, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly. The yearly analysis includes the period between January to August, for a comparable dataset.
The Road Towards a More Sustainable Guest Experience
Implementing sustainable hotel practices is often an overwhelming process. Where do you start? And how can you measure the real impact of your green projects? Here are a few things you could consider:
1. Start with low-cost/no-cost initiatives.
Start with what’s easier to put into practice. Make sustainability part of your staff training and inform your guests how they can help by displaying information in private and common areas.
Also, you can think of a donation program for used towels and linens, or food waste donation programs.
Looking for a strategy to organize your initiatives? A detailed action plan for hotels was made available by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, with activities broken down based on difficulty, cost, and the specific area they cover.
2. Avoid greenwashing.
Think of greenwashing as a beautiful wrap that masks the lack of tangible environmental involvement. Greenwashing refers to marketing tactics aimed at attracting consumers by providing so-called “eco-friendly” options. For instance, you may come across a property that promotes itself as an ecohotel but doesn’t have the necessary certifications or programs to prove it.
Some of the greenwashing initiatives are difficult to spot. Thorough research is essential before implementing a sustainable project and promoting it through your channels. Thinking of switching to bio-plastic items? Make sure you have a supplier that can recycle this type of material. Although bioplastic production doesn’t use as much fossil fuel as traditional plastic, the recycling process isn’t widely available yet.
3. Earn a sustainability badge or certification.
Certifications and badges are a great way to show your commitment to sustainability initiatives. Consumers perceive them as a sign of transparency and credibility.
Almost 8 out of 10 people believe that sustainability labels should be mandatory for products.
You may find it difficult to choose from the multitude of certifications and badges available. First, focus on a single, feasible initiative, that won’t require too many additional resources. Implement it until the end, and measure its impact before jumping into another one.
Check the badges and programs launched by booking platforms. Booking.com has recently released a Travel Sustainability Badge. Google offers the option of showcasing your sustainability practices via your Google Business Profile.
Looking for a complete and comprehensive framework to manage your environmental responsibilities? ISO 140001 is the global standard for environmental management. Recognized worldwide, it will provide an A to Z guide on how to manage, improve, and monitor your environmental performance.
4. Measure your impact
Monitor consumption and cost
This is the difficult part, especially when it comes to Energy, Water, and Waste (EWW) consumption. The need to have it reported separately has been recognized by leading hospitality bodies. To help hotels monitor consumption more accurately, HFTP (Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals) has announced that the USALI 12th revised edition will include a new section dedicated to EWW. Scheduled for release at the beginning of 2023, this edition will include new EWW and updated metrics that will make it easier for hoteliers to distinguish the EWW cost and consumption from other operational costs from an accounting perspective.
Improve your online reputation
With TrustYou Analytics, you’ll get insights into how sustainability impacts your guest experience. We recently released a brand new sentiment category available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.
[NEW] Sustainability Category
Alongside this new category, hoteliers can use the already existing Eco-Friendly Hotel category to understand the impact of their environmental initiatives on the guest experience.
Today, sustainable practices are no longer a nice-to-have feature of the hospitality industry. When implementing sustainable initiatives, focus on making a real impact on the life of your guests and your community.