The world is constantly changing and so are we. A crucial reminder of this is rapid climate change. Climate change awareness and its impact on our planet has created changes and trends within various industries, as well as our daily lives. A more sustainable future is a topic of importance and has impacted the expectations we have towards ourselves and others. The increasing awareness has triggered global demand as consumer attitudes have shifted.
In a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey, 90% of those surveyed were equally or even more concerned about environmental issues since the beginning of the pandemic. Furthermore, 95% believe that their personal actions could help tackle climate change, reduce unsustainable waste and protect biodiversity.
Travellers want to be sustainable
Within the travel industry, consumer expectations are changing. More and more travellers are aware of their environmental impact and want to make more sustainable choices. Since the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to travel, it also made us rethink how and why we travel. One of the key points that surfaced is the interest in sustainable travel. Two-thirds of travellers thought about sustainability and the environmental impact of their travels. Guests see value in social and environmental practices and are asking for transparency to help their decision-making.
Hostels and hotels worldwide are participating in various sustainability programs—they follow responsible practices such as responsible waste management, using sustainable products, sourcing local produce and more. However, your hotel doesn’t need to participate in a program in order to proudly communicate the sustainable actions you’re taking. Communicating how your business is being more sustainable is highly relevant to your guests. Providing clarity helps ethically-minded guests make a conscious decision when travelling. It also creates a unique selling point—adding value from different angles and raising awareness.
Whether your hotel is starting to implement sustainable practices or you’re wanting to communicate your current efforts, we’ve collated a guide for you. Here are 5 ways that others in the hotel industry approach sustainability and how they share their practices with guests.
1. A climate neutral-stay
A long time ago, Stayokay made a conscious commitment to sustainable entrepreneurship. One of their core ambitions is to become the most sustainable ho(s)tel chain in the Netherlands and to be CO2-neutral! Stayokay takes pride in what they have achieved so far and the goals they have set for the future. This is reflected in their dedicated page Sustainable & Social on the website and in their monthly newsletter. Every guest can contribute to these efforts too. Among other initiatives, by paying €0.20 per night, guests can partner with Stayokay to invest in green energy.
2. Sustainability: A matter of the heart
Staudacherhof is a family-run hotel where sustainability and consistency are a matter of the heart. These independent entrepreneurs are continuously investing and innovating in areas wherever needed—never losing sight of their self-proclaimed duty of protecting the environment.
Here are just a few examples of what the Staudacher family has put into practice:
- The hotel runs on 100% eco-friendly energy and carbon-neutral gas
- The kitchen cooks with regional, seasonal & organic products
- Guests that arrive by electric car can charge this at their e-charging station
As sustainability is strongly intertwined with the hotel owner’s philosophy and therefore the guest experience, they decided to raise more awareness by implementing a Hotelchamp message that highlights some of the environmental measures.
3. Reducing environmental impact
Langham Hospitality Group has created their very own sustainability roadmap called CONNECT. A roadmap with the vision to be recognized as trustworthy and forward-thinking sustainability leaders within the hospitality world. It is their ambition to decrease their own environmental impact by 50%, to create a shared value community that operates with strong ethical business practices and provide a fair and equal environment for their employees. The Langham Hospitality Group has reinforced their commitment to their corporate social responsibility by partnering with the certification program EarthCheck. The program provides transparent reporting of the environmental and social performance of hotels & resorts. Sixteen of the Langham hotels have received the EarthCheck certification and four of the properties have achieved Platinum status. The Langham London is the first luxury hotel in Europe to achieve the Platinum Certification with EarthCheck.
4. Standing for green and conscious hospitality
Ecomama Hotel proudly stands for sustainability in everything they do. From their furniture to heating and water supply to recycling. Everything is designed to be green and conscious. They encourage guests to adopt this mission too. In 2020, 32% of travellers consider a brand’s social and environmental practices when booking. By 2023, 81% of travellers thought sustainable travel was important and 78% of travellers planned to stay in eco-friendly accommodations. Ecomama’s dedication to social and environmental practices reaches outside of their own doors too. For every night a guest stays at Ecomama, €1 is donated to Niños de Guatemala, an NGO located in Guatemala, that provides quality education for disadvantaged children and to Artis Zoo.
5. Making a real difference in the world
In 2020, Clink Hostels surveyed over 700 people from more than 36 countries and found that 86% of the survey respondents felt that companies should do more to challenge current social, political and environmental issues. To support volunteers wanting to make a difference, Clink launched their “Shut up & Listen” initiative. This program offers inspiration and beds for volunteers who are contributing to positive change. On their Shut up & Listen page, people who are interested can learn more about how they can get involved in these environmental and social causes.
Clink Hostels CEO, Mark Fenelon, shared on their website, “Our guests are clearly asking companies to have purpose as well as profit, and to move beyond faceless donations and self-servicing promotion. There is a whole generation out there that want to give back to their communities and the destinations they travel to. Although it is hard to travel right now, we still want to be able to support the younger generation. We encourage those keen to make a difference to either volunteer with their local registered charity to support community causes or take part in a digital fundraising event to assist an important global cause.”
It’s time for hotels to act
Consumer awareness and traveller expectations are changing. Research has shown that making sustainable improvements and communicating these will continue to be important in guest decision-making. The initiatives shared in this blog cover a wide range of causes and all help both hotels and guests make a positive impact. If your hotel has been considering incorporating sustainable changes, start planning these now. By joining a sustainability program or working with organisations in your community, your hotel can be a part of the positive change consumers are expecting.
To learn how you can highlight the environmental and social causes your hotel is a part of on your website, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2021 and has been refreshed and updated for accuracy and new best practices.