Hospitality & Sustainability – Trend Or Not?

Patricia PetrinjakTourism Marketing
7 min read

Due to significant expenses and slow return on investment, few have adopted sustainability measures.

According to a 2018 report by the European Travel Commission, Tourism and Climate Change Mitigation Embracing the Paris Agreement: Pathways to Decarbonization, hospitality is equally at risk of climate change as it is part of the solution. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, hospitality and the travel industry are expected to achieve the agreed guidelines through active participation and sustainable measures.

The introduction of green sustainable practices save costs and energy and provides a sense of the guest’s contribution to the community and the destination. These practices are becoming increasingly crucial for the overall impression and reputation of the destinations.

Green Is the New Black ♻️

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable tourism development requires the cooperation of all relevant participants in economic development, with strong political leadership.

Sustainable tourism development evenly distributes guests within all regions and types of accommodation.

Guests change

Unique experiences and active participation are becoming imperative for guests to come. Hoteliers and vacation rentals that support and act towards the preservation of the environment are desirable.

The flight shaming campaign, popularized by the young Greta Thunberg, caused flights in Sweden to fall by 4% in one year and increase the percentage of train travel – before the pandemic.

Also, ecological accommodation capacities and resorts are becoming the founders of trends and leaders in implementing new green directions in tourism.

Local advantage

Due to the pandemic, hospitality influence on the global economy has been emphasized more than before.

Consumers, guests and travellers alike are encouraged to notice the differences their spending makes for local businesses and communities in the destinations they visit.

Photo by Lucija Ros on Unsplash

Green Initiatives

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the body managing sustainable travel and tourism standards, has defined the GSTC criteria and proposed indicators for tourism. The idea is to harmonize all certification criteria, such as Green Key or Green Star certification.

Hoteliers and vacation rentals seeking official recognition for their environmental initiatives can consider one of the many certification bodies accredited to GSTC worldwide.

A complete list of GSTC standards and bodies for green hotel certification can be found here.

Renewable energy sources

Instalment of solar panels or combined heat and power cells to produce energy on-site, your apartment, hotel, hostel, or campsite can reduce dependence on non-renewable sources and reduce utility costs.

Also, an official certificate of sustainability appropriate for exactly your type of accommodation will be helpful.

Smart management

Smart energy management is equally beneficial for guests and accommodation providers.

As we have already mentioned, guests nowadays are more aware of the travel and tourism impact on the environment. Guests are more inclined to choose ecological accommodation and destination.

Using sensors can lead to savings in lighting costs. Sensors can provide information about the presence of a guest within the accommodation unit, adjust the heating, turn off the lights, and even notify the cleaning staff. In addition, sensors can also collect valuable data that you can use to identify patterns to personalize the service further.

An effective way to save energy is the application of LED bulbs.

They are known to consume approximately 75% less energy. In addition to energy savings, LED lights can enhance the guest experience through the ability to change light colour and adjust intensity.

Waste management

Smart trash bins in kitchens are already a standard solution, but collecting data can analyze dietary preferences for better menu definition. That way, the kitchens can order the right amount of food and avoid throwing away.

By offering more menus, including more local and seasonal foods, and providing more vegan and vegetarian options while removing plastic water bottles from mini bars, you will achieve a lot while reducing waste.

Efficient waste management does not only refer to food excess but also the remaining service segments.

For example, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a shared vision to address the root of plastic pollution.

The Initiative’s recommendations include ways to reduce the plastic footprint, increase supplier engagement, work more closely with waste collection service providers and ensure transparency in the activities that can significantly contribute to the responsible recovery of the tourism sector.

Three zeros of architecture

The use of local building materials and employees (zero-kilometre principle), prioritizing energy management and lower emissions (zero carbon dioxide principle) and the introduction of waste management in construction (zero waste principle) architecture, construction and design in tourism are also turning towards sustainability.

Using recycled and locally made materials saves transportation costs, resources and promote community participation.

Photo by Kam Idris on Unsplash

Smarter rooms

A few years ago, the idea of controlling all aspects of a room or accommodation unit with the help of a smartphone or similar device was just that – an idea.

However, allowing guests to pre-select room temperature, set lighting, turn on the TV, select music, raise or lower blinds and more is reality. This level of personalization has never been possible before and will transform the guest experience and optimize energy consumption to save, both on maintenance and on staff.

Sustainable Tech

Creatively used technology improves the quality of service.

In terms of convenience, online apps provide guests with an easy way to order room service or ask for extra towels.

Hilton’s Connected Room system allows guests to personalize and control every aspect of their stay from their smartphones. That means controlling energy consumption so that when guests are not physically in their rooms – usually around 70% of the time – hotels can turn off lights, televisions, heating and air conditioning, dramatically reducing energy consumption.

Using devices that guests already have, such as smartphones, can reduce (or even eliminate) the use of paper by saving tons of water and chemicals used in paper processing and lower (or eliminate) the use of plastic keyboards.

Not only that, to stay competitive, it is crucial to know how to use mobile technology for a more successful business of your hotel, apartment, camp or hostel in general.

According to Booking.com, more than 64% of travellers confirm that technology will play an essential role in controlling health risks during travel. Almost the same percentage of them, 63%, believe that hoteliers and vacation rentals will have to use technology to make guests feel safe.

Sustainable Future

After witnessing a drastic reduction in air pollution in India and China, the crystalline waters of the Venice Canal, the pandemic nevertheless proved how it is possible to reduce human impact on the environment.

Adopting sustainability practices supports the well-being of nature and guests in several ways. These efforts can save resources, promote community, reduce energy use, reduce waste, reduce rainwater runoff, save water, improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and stabilize climate.

Furthermore, hoteliers and vacation rentals will feel the financial benefit of implementing sustainable practices.

These elements can help meet the growing expectations of guests, attract environmentally conscious guests and conferences, achieve a competitive advantage, increase occupancy, reduce operating costs. Investing in green tourism and sustainability is primarily profitable – investing in energy efficiency reduces the costs of energy, water and waste disposal and increases biodiversity, ecosystem preservation and cultural heritage.

Moreover, turning to greener tourism will create a better tomorrow, but it will also make your business more resistant for years to come.

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Although she would love to read all day, Patricia enjoys writing. In addition to cultivating the wild yeast in her free time, she shares her living space with two dogs and one Dalmatian enjoying her first-class sea view which is why she moved from Zagreb in the first place.