As we've entered a new decade, we find a world facing major climate change questions that will shape business over many years to come.
The year 2020 also symbolises the start of a new decade. Sustainability is one of the most important topics that will shape the next ten years and the impact will be far longer-lasting. Sustainability by definition means "the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level" but has primarily become synonymous with being environmentally friendly and terms such as “going green”. With progressive climate change activists and natural disasters becoming more recurring, there is a heightened awareness of the importance of sustainability in order to preserve our planet to the best of our ability. Today’s consumers are starting to raise their expectations from businesses around the world, demanding that they reduce their carbon footprint and reduce activities that may be harmful to the environment.
According to a study by the University of Cambridge, the tourism industry is responsible for approximately 5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure is expected to rise by 130% in the next 15 years unless drastic changes take place. The main challenge will be to manage to reduce the carbon footprint simultaneously as the industry continues to grow with thousands of new hotels opening up on a yearly basis.
Travellers and growing expectations
Travellers and guests in 2020 have growing expectations and set high standards for hotels to live up to. Being eco-friendly is shifting from being a nice added bonus to more of a requirement. According to Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report, nearly 90% of travelers desire to travel sustainably and nearly 40% can admit that they manage to do so. The same report details how over 40% of travellers are actively looking to reduce environmental impact when travelling, a number that keeps increasing on a yearly basis. 72% of travellers also believe that people need to act now and begin to make more sustainable travel choices. As reported by Deloitte, as many as 95% of business travellers believe that the hotel industry should be taking sustainability initiatives seriously.
There is clearly a growing desire from guests around the world to travel more sustainably. While transport represents a big part of the equation, the accommodation plays a large role, too, and travellers are actively looking at hotels to take initiatives that will reduce their carbon footprint.Points of action
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has created a GSTC Industry Criteria and Suggested Indicators that hotels should aspire to reach at a minimum. These indicators include demonstrating effective sustainable management, maximizing social and economic benefits to the local community, minimising negative impacts and more. Hotels that meet the requirements can apply for a certificate.
A lot of hotels are beginning to implement sustainability programmes. Topics such as reducing use of plastic, food waste and energy bills is a good start. For example, many hotels are beginning to eliminate plastic room keys as they are made from PVC and are instead looking at digital solutions or keycards made out of paper. Food waste can be cut down by establishing a sustainable food menu, using more local produce and also reducing food waste by measuring food that is thrown away.
Hotels can also attempt to reduce plastic material in general, such as for shampoos, have eco-friendly dishwashing and laundry systems, reduce unnecessary use of air conditioners, implement recycle programs and add water flow restrictors. These are just some of the many steps that hotels can take to signal to their guests that they are taking steps necessary in order to become more sustainable.
Opportunities for hotels
Sustainability is a topic that hotels should take seriously but it can also be seen as an opportunity. By becoming more sustainable, your hotel will also be more attractive to a large number of guests, making your hotel stand out in the crowd and gaining a competitive advantage. It will improve the hotel’s brand image and can also create more top talent and employees, building a strong company culture that extends to the guests.
Additionally, long-term becoming more sustainable will lead to cost savings through improved efficiency and lower water/energy bills. In certain countries hotels that demonstrate that they are pursuing sustainable initiatives can receive fiscal grants or economic incentives such as insurance discounts or tax write-offs.
Overall, hotels should see the task of becoming more sustainable as an opportunity. Developing a plan and setting clear and achievable goals will set-up the hotel for long-term success. Guests are showing a desire for hotels that demonstrate sustainable thinking and in many cases are even willing to pay a premium.
Loopon is a communication platform that unifies all digital guest communication a hotel needs into one beautiful and easy-to-use tool. Hotels that truly care about their guests use Loopon to provide outstanding service, which results in happy guests that return over and over again.